Wednesday, January 18, 2006

From The Gathering - An Excerpt

From The Gathering is a collection of the most popular folklores from around the world. Some familiar tales from Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Japan, Russia, India are featured. Lesser known Celtic folklore and Chinese myth are also included.

Panji Semirang

Hatta empunya cerita, tersebutlah perkataan didalam kayangan hendak membuat lelakon,
supaya menjadi cerita; kerana pada tatkala itu alam dunia pun
belum ramai dan belum banyak manusia,
bermuafakatlah penduduk kayangan itu hendak turun ke dalam dunia,
supaya menjadi panjang lelakon ceritanya.

Heavan was a place on earth. And it was called Java.

A very long time ago, when the island was mountainous and the sea filled with ferocious monsters, the world was all at once a beautiful but terrible place. Hugh and towering plants reached out to the sun. Streams, crystal clear, were where fairies came down to play and frolic. The Dewa residing in the heavens were always tempted to descend to this earthly Eden.

Three Dewa Kings and a Princess of kin did just that. The Kings founded the cities Kuripan, Daha and Gagelang and the princess, being divine, set off to Mountain Wilis. She was called Tuan Puteri Biku Gandasari and drew such immense power from her deep meditations, she possessed knowledge and sight of all.

Ratu Kuripan, the eldest, was a mighty King. On the day his first son, Raden Inu Kertapati was born, he was the most joyous of men. As was customary and fit for the young prince, the King chose four companions for him to grow up with, Jerude, Punta, Kartala and Persanta. The young regent was the pride and joy of not only his father, but the whole kingdom for the prince was beauteous in face, courteous in speech and a skillful warrior.

The royal household of Sang Ratu Daha was much more exciting. It was easy to see why. Sang Ratu had three wives. His queen, Tuan Puteri Ratu Ningrat gave birth to a beautiful daughter, Galuh Cendera Kirana. Mahadewi, though kind and grateful, was childless. The youngest wife, exotic as she was, was in a perpetual state of jealousy - so conscious she was of her status as the youngest wife, and a commoner at that. Her daughter, Galuh Ajeng followed in her mother’s footsteps in moral and character, envious of her stepsister, Galuh Chendera Kirana. Which was a pity, as the younger girl was quite sweet in her looks had she managed to smile a little from time to time. But her shrewish nature made her a very difficult girl to like.

The King of Gagelang had but one son, Singa Mentari. So favoured was he that the boy grew up to be spoilt and self centred.

As Raden Inu reached manhood, his parents decided to marry him off to his cousin, Galuh Chendera Kirana. A special envoy was sent to Daha. Ratu Daha was extremely pleased with the proposal and he invited his eldest daughter to sit next to him at the Banquet specially prepared to welcome the envoy from Kuripan.

At that very moment, Paduka Liku’s heart blackened with pure rage.

Immediately after, Paduka Liku rushed to her chambers, prepared a dish of poisoned tapioca sweets, tapioca being renowned as the Queen’s favourite dessert. She sent it as a gift to the Queen and Galuh Chendera on the princess’s betrothal. Her audacity was only matched by her fury. In her mind, should the queen or the princess fall victim to her poison, Galuh Ajeng would be able to marry Raden Inu Karpati. A solution no simpler.

As it was, Paduka Liku’s plan went like clockwork. The gracious Queen choked on her last breath after taking the delicious dessert. Galuh Chendera Kirana who was with her mother held her as if in a trance and fainted. Maidens screamed in terror. The palace was in chaos.

The King quickly arrived at the scene. His anger simmered like a lethal volcano. One of the Queen’s handmaidens gave an account of the day, including the arrival of the fateful dessert. The king immediately ordered the livestock in the palace grounds to be brought to him.

There was no doubt as to Paduka Liku’s guilt when the proud rooster pecked at the remnants of the ‘tapai’. The poor animal fell to the ground, stiff in a matter of seconds. The King’s eyes flashed red, muscles bulging, a fearful sight indeed. He grabbed his swords and strode in angry strides towards Paduka Liku’s mansion.

Meanwhile, Paduka Liku seemed to be excited beyond measure. Her life long dream to be Queen in the King’s eyes was soon to be reality. She ordered her servants to leave her palace. Draped only in jewellery and precious gems, she waited for the King in her chambers, the air heavily scented, sireh scattered everywhere. Even the plants and animals around her mansion seemed drugged by her charms and spells.

The King stepped onto her verandah. And all was lost.

He seemed changed, his steps lighter, a silly smile quivered on his lips.

Paduka Liku’s eyes flashed brilliant.

He found her upon her enormous bed, an exotic and wild flower. He asked her tenderly, ‘Where is Galuh Ajeng, my love?’ and all thoughts of the dead queen and Galuh Chendera Kirana flew out the open windows.

Paduka Liku had triumphed.

From that moment onwards, Galuh Chendera Kirana’s life took a turn for the very worst.


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