August 2, 2011

Tale from Borneo : Sedihrela - Part 2

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

Seputeh opened her eyes but her vision was blurred from an intense bright light, the brightest she had ever seen but it wasn't painful to the eyes and she could sense the warmest warmth in it. A sense of peace, tranquility...enveloping her and she found herself unable to articulate what she was feeling for it was beyond human expression

About an hour ago she had given birth to a healthy baby girl and she had hold her baby in her arms lovingly before she felt herself slipping away, like she was falling asleep; She had passed on. 

"Welcome my child?", said a voice. Seputeh was mildly startled but she wasn't afraid. It seemed like this place that she was in was devoid of fear, pain, hatred and all other worldly woes. That voice, it neither sounded like a man nor a woman. No words to describe it but it was authoritative and yet gentle.  

"Seputeh, this is your home now", said the voice again. Seputeh squinted and squinted but yet she couldn't see past the intense bright light. "I can't see you my Lord??", said Seputeh.

"Not to worry my child. Soon you will be able to see everything. You have just passed from the world of the living into the world of the spirit. Your spirit has not yet fully forgotten memory of your earthly body. Hence, you are trying to see with your worldly eyes which is impossible here. Once the last remnants of the memory of your earthly body slips away, your spirit senses will take over. Come, let me guide you to your new home." Seputeh's whole being rejoiced when she felt Dia touched her shoulder. Oh that aura! “Indeed it is my Lord!” Seputeh thought to herself. From Dia's aura, she could sense that Dia was much ancient than what the Tulun had thought the seven spirits to be.

They walked quite a bit and along the way, she heard voices greeting Dia and herself. All of them sounded happy and contented. By the time they reached their destination, she had regained almost all of her sight. Lo and behold, she saw the most magnificent of a long house like she had never seen in the mortal world. And the landscape, it was heavenly! All around her, she's surrounded by soft and bright hues of colours! Next to the longhouse was a river teeming with fishes and the water was crystal clear. She saw children playing in the water without a care in the world. When the children saw them, they stopped playing and waved at them. Dia waved back and made a hand gesture, suddenly there appeared a tree next to the river. The children laughed with glee and ran towards the tree. Moments later, all of them took turn to jump off the tree into the river. “That tree looks familiar. Isn't that...?” asked Seputeh. “No, it's not Nunuk Ragang. I just created one that looks like it for the amusement of the children. Sometimes it seems, even the adults appreciate it.” replied Dia.

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Suddenly a voice called out to them. “My Lord! You are here! Why didn't you call me. Have you waited long?” asked a man. “Hello Nunuk. Yes we've been here quite a while but we were being entertained by the children.” replied Dia with a gentle smile.

Seputeh, this is Nunuk Ragang. Everyone calls him Aki here, in his previous mortal life, he was a Bobolizan (priest) but these days, he just spend his time playing with his grandchildren!” Dia said with endearment and laughing as he patted Aki's back.

My Lord....” greeted Seputeh but Aki interrupted her. “There are seven Lords in this realm and I'm not one of them. I'll be deeply offended if you equate me to our masters. Just call me Aki like everyone else. Forgive the child's ignorance my Lord” said Aki.

Please forgive me Aki, please forgive me my Lord!” Seputeh begged urgently.

Dia laughed reassuringly, “That was rather harsh, don't you think so Nunuk? There's nothing to be forgiven for I am not offended. Seputeh, your Aki is a stickler to protocols but he meant well but you'd do well to listen to him. He is one of many leaders I've rewarded a place in this longhouse.”

I'm sorry Seputeh my child. Please forgive me if I sounded harsh just now. Come! Come! Why are we standing here. Let me bring you to your home! We had a great time preparing it for you and I'll introduce you to the other womenfolks!” said Aki.

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Aki led the small party into the magnificent longhouse. “My Lord, I don't understand. Why do I deserve such an honour to be living amongst leaders?” asked Seputeh.

Setipun will go on to do great things Seputeh. The Tulun will make him their Huguon Siou (Paramount Leader) and he will do many good deeds. Just as long as he follows the path that I've laid before him and he chooses wisely. Even so, you are deserving of this honour because you had willingly sacrificed yourself for my cause. Don't feel out of place my child.” assured Dia.

Meanwhile, in the mortal world. Sixteen years had passed since Sedihrela was born. Setipun remained a widower and refused advances by womenfolks despite being urged by the Bobolian. “The child needs a mother Setipun!” how many times Setipun had heard this urging from the Bobolian over and over again.

Setipun had become rather wealthy from his enterprise. When the people heard what happened to his wife and how he had offered himself to avert catastrophe, they made him into an Orang Tua(Village Headman). Setipun turned out to be a natural born leader. He resettled his people farther inland and opened up a new settlement. The decision proved to be a wise one for the new land was fertile and the natural landscapes were ideal for defensive posts. Setipun organized his people and sentries were put to all defensive posts twenty four hours a day on shifts. Farmers were able to work without worrying about being attacked by Pangazou(head hunters) and pirates looking to loot and spirit them away to be sold as slaves. For a while, the Pangazou and pirates were baffled as to the sudden disappearance of their intended victims and eventually they found out their new location but they were gravely mistaken that Setipun and his people would be an easy pick as before. Setipun's warriors had repelled many raids by the Pangazou and pirates alike, taking many heads in the process.

Before long, words of the prestige of Setipun and his settlement spread far and wide. The Pangazou and pirates had less incentive to prey on Setipun's people. Setipun even sent out raiding parties to purge the land of pirates and captured many Pangazou on headhunting mission in the nearby villagers, earning the gratitude of villagers around the settlement. Eventually, there were calls from within Setipun's people and also people from the nearby villagers for Setipun to lead them as their Huguon Siou, essentially they wanted him to be their king.

Setipun was reluctant at first because he was reluctant to take on such an enormous responsibility. He was contented to just lead his Tulun. However, one day he was confronted and cornered by twelve Bobolian from nearby villages including the one from his own settlements. They told him that they were all visited by Dia and they all agreed that he was indisputably the one chosen to be the Huguon Siou and that it would greatly offend Dia if he were to deny his own destiny. With that said, Setipun had to yield to the people's wishes. Hence, he joined the ranks of many Huguon Siou that came before him.

With peace, security and blessed with fertile soil, their crops were in abundance. They also harvested jungle produce like rattan, bees wax etc. Soon they found that not only they had enough for themselves to consume and store, they had extra supply. Hence, they started trading with outsiders. This is the source of Setipun's wealth.

Not only was Setipun a great leader, he was equally great in business. When not dispensing judgment or intervening in disputes, he would be at his dusun(orchard) working alongside his workers. They said Setipun had two passion or two things he enjoyed doing, foremost, spending time with his daughter followed by working in his dusun.  

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