July 17, 2011

Tale from Borneo - Sedihrela : Part 1

Please note that this is a fiction based loosely on Dusun customs and folklores. The author, that is me, reserves all intellectual copyright.

Sedihrela was a happy child. Despite growing without a mother, whom passed away while giving birth to her, she was happy. Of course occasionally, she would ask her father, Setipun, about her mother. How she looked like, whether she would have loved her if she hadn't died. Setipun loved his daughter and it's not just because he promised his dying wife that he would cherish, love and protect their child, it was also because Sedihrela was a reminder of his wife and their love that brought Sedihrela to the world. 

Sedihrela's was not an easy birth. There were complications. The Bobolian (priestess) told Setipun that one of the seven spirits that are the guardian of North Borneo was unhappy with him because he had forgotten to offer thanksgiving sacrifice to Dia (HimHer - the spirit has no gender). For it was Dia who intervened and helped them to conceive after years of trying. Dia said that Tulun (people/human) must never forget that it was at the spirits' mercy and grace that the Tuluns are blessed with good fortune. Hence, Dia required sogit (restitution) less misfortune would befallen to the Tuluns. "Choose!" Dia said. "Should we spare your wife and child and curse all Tulun wth misfortune for a hundred years or should we spare the Tulun but take one that you love dearest!". 

When Setipun heard Dia's condition, his face turned ashen and he fell to the ground on his knees begging for forgiveness and mercy. Setipun turned to the Bobolian, "Please! Please! Please tell my Lord to take my life instead. I would gladly die for my wife and child and for our people! Don't punish them for my sin! PLEASE!". 

The Bobolian went into a trance for a few minutes and recovered. Calmly and sagely, she said to Setipun, "Setipun, you cannot become a replacement for any of them because this test is meant for you. Dia wants to see the extend of your faith and loyalty. Dia loves you but you have saddened Dia by only remembering to turn to Dia and the other guardians when in trouble but forsaking them when you are in good times. Dia wants you to pay this Sogit because he wants you to join him in paradise. Dia says that you are one of his favourite Tulun and he had seen all the good deeds that you have done and doesn't want you to be denied paradise just because of one mistake. Dia cannot make exceptions at the pain of incurring the wrath of the other guardians. Heed Dia's demand my son and choose wisely for this test will determine whether you enter paradise or not. Dia said all is not grim because Dia has prepared a good home for either one of your loved ones that you decide to offer as sogit. Dia will become your loved one's benefactor in paradise."

When Setipun heard this, he said, "I'm willing to become a rogon (ghost), tell my Lord that. I'm willing to forfeit my place in paradise just as long as my wife and child and my people do not perish! It's my sin! PLEASE punish me instead!". 

His wife, who had been listening to the exchanges between Setipun and the Bobolizan, all this while writhing in pain, called out to Setipun. 

Wife : Honey! Darling! Come here husband!

Setipun : Yes, yes, my love, what is it?!

Wife : I love you! I will always love you. You love me too right? (tears rolling down her cheeks).

Setipun : Of course I love you my wife! Have I not proven my love to you? (sobbing like a child)

Wife : (she placed her hands on Setipun's cheeks) Listen to me darling. Everything will turn out fine(she guided Setipun's head to her chest and cradled his head like a mother to a child). We cannot defy Dia's command. I am as much responsible to this sin as you. We have waited for this child for a very long time, haven't we? You have been a good husband to me, a good friend and I've been waiting for the day when I could repay the happiness that you have given me. This child is my gift to you. 

Setipun : What.. what... what are you trying to say.....(Setipun raised his head and looked at his wife)

Wife : Hush my sweet husband. You have carried us this far for a long time. I want to take over now. 

Setipun : Carry?! I never thought of it as a burden my wife! I would do it over and over again if you want me to... and...

Wife : Hush! Be a good boy. Listen to me(the wife stroke his hair gently). You will offer me as sacrifice for your sogit...        

Setipun : NOOOO!... (Setipun let out an eerie wail! Like an injured animal)

Wife : Shsh!Shsh!.... (still stroking Setipun's hair gently). It's okay! It's okay! (she mumbled some inaudible song that sounded like a lullaby). I'm at peace Setipun. Save our child and our people. 

Setipun : BUT...

Wife : Are you going to defy my last wishes? Have you no love and respect for me?

Setipun : Of course I do, darling...but...

Wife : No but! You will offer me to Dia and you will name our child Sedihrela because although you will be sad to offer this sacrifice, you are doing it voluntarily albeit that you are sad! Promise me that you will not harbor any resentment towards our child or Dia. Promise me! PROMISE ME! Unless you want me to become a Rogon!

Setipun : I promise.. I promise...I PROMISE!!!!!!

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