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The Golden Watermelon (Sambas)

West Kalimantan - Indonesia
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“So many countries, so many customs”, (Even though people might have similarities physically, yet the characteristics, attitudes and hearts are different one another). The meaning of this saying is reflected in one of folklores from Sambas, West Kalimantan, Indonesia. It is a story of two brothers, Muzakir and Dermawan. Both were the sons of a prosperous merchant in that area. The story tells that the two brothers shared the same amount of inheritance as their parents passed away. However, since the two were contradictory in approaching life so they treated the inheritance in a different way. Muzakir was a greedy man that he was reluctant to share his belongings and also money to anyone for any reason.  Different to his brother, Dermawan (as is seen from the name, dermawan, which literally means a philanthropist), is a kind man. He sincerely shared his money or belongings to help the people in needs. It is told that one day Dermawan ran out of money for giving most of his money for charity that he left nothing more for himself. The brother Muzakir felt entertained by the fact that his brother was a fool sharing his money with others and was becoming poor.

The misfortune of Dermawan didn‘t last long; Muzakir came to know soon that his brother was no longer poor. Dermawan suddenly gained back his prosperity; owned a big house with a wide nice garden. This intrigued Muzakir that he wanted to know the secret behind his brother sudden fortune. What made Dermawan become suddenly rich? The answer is in the whole story of The Golden Watermelon as told below.

* * *

Once upon a time, there was a prosperous merchant lived in Sambas, West Kalimantan. He had two sons; Muzakir was the first and Dermawan was the youngest. The two brothers were so different in their attitudes. Muzakir was a selfish and greedy man. He minded only the materials. It was told that he was never willing to share even a small amount of his money to the poor. On contradictory, his brother Dermawan was a caring and attentive person and was a kind one. He would willingly share with those in needs. He was not a money-oriented man.

The two brothers were given the same amount of inheritance by their father before he died. By doing so, he hoped that his two sons would not argue and be jealous about each other part, especially after he passed away. The two then lived their own way as they got their own. Muzakir bought a luxurious house, and so did Dermawan.

Muzakir saved his money in a cash-box and locked the box tightly. When a poor came to his house begging for money, he would laugh at that person instead of giving something. He even would violently expel a poor who rejected to leave him. One day, an old woman came to him and begged for money, “Sir, please have mercy on me. I beg you for a cent”. He got out of his house when he heard the old woman‘s voice for mercy and laughed at her pity condition, “Ha ha ha…hey you ugly old woman, get out of here. I‘m sick of people like you. Your old wrinkled face disgusts me!” The poor old woman bended still on her knee. She kept asking for Muzakir‘s mercy, “But Sir, I haven‘t eaten anything for two days. Please, have mercy on me”. Feeling disturbed by her, Muzakir commanded two of his guards to force the old woman to leave. She finally left the house without anything but humiliation.

Many of the poor in that area had heard about Muzakir‘s rude attitude, therefore nobody dared to try to come to him anymore, including the previous old woman. They preferred to come to Dermawan who had different characteristics. People knew him as a friendly person who was always willing to welcome anyone. He would sincerely welcome people to his house for meals and undoubtedly shared money with those who needed it. He was so sorry for the poor. It was almost every day a poor came for his help that finally he ran out of money and turned to poverty. He was no longer able to pay for the daily needs, including the costs to pay the maids to take care of his big house. He then moved to a smaller house and looked for a job to pay for his life. His salary was not so much and was enough only for his daily meals. Yet he was always thankful for every single thing.

The brother, Muzakir, was so happy and laughed at his brother when he found out the misfortune condition of Dermawan. He always thought that Dermawan was a fool to share his money with people, thus it amused him when finally his brother became poor for doing so. “That is the consequence for someone who shares with the poor. You‘ll be one of them one day. Poor dumb Dermawan”, said him to himself. He was so proud that he could maintain his prosperity; he later bought a bigger and more luxurious house and a very wide coconut field. Still, Dermawan didn‘t response to his brother‘s mean attitude.

One day, Dermawan was sitting on a bench at his garden, trying to release his tiresome. A sparrow suddenly fell off in front of him. The poor sparrow twittered in pain, “Poor little one”, said Dermawan. “Are your wings broken?” he tried to talk to the bird. He gently took the sparrow into his lap and checked on it. And yes, its wings were terribly broken. “I‘ll try to fix you”, he muttered. After put on medicine on the wound, he slowly bandaged the wings. He took some rice and fed it. It gradually tamed and was no longer afraid of Dermawan. Its wings were at last completely healed few days later, and it flew and left.

The sparrow came to visit Dermawan the next day. It held a tiny seed with its beak, and later on put it in front of him. Dermawan smiled at the bird. It seemed to be just an ordinary seed, yet he was so happy receiving the gift from the bird. Dermawan later planted it at the back yard of his house. The seed started to grow the next three days. It was in fact a watermelon tree. Dermawan took care of it patiently that it grew so well. He thought in the beginning that it would bear many fruits since it was so blossomy. “If all of these flowers turn to good fruits, I shall have enough store of foods for my own and I can share the rest of them to the poor”, he hoped in his heart. However, it was so weird that after being taken care of carefully only one grew well. Even though it was the only single fruit from the tree, it grew bigger than the ordinary watermelon. Dermawan was so happy to see the fruit and couldn‘t wait to taste it. “It seems to taste wonderful. Hmmm…and it smells good”, he said to himself.

Harvesting time finally came and he decided to take the watermelon. “Oh my God, it is so heavy”, he uttered while trying hardly to carry it into the house to put on the table. He took a knife and started to cut and was shocked to his view. “What is this?” he anxiously asked when he saw a pile of something golden inside it. He thought it was just ordinary sand, but changed his mind as he observed the thing carefully and understood that it was a pile of pure golden sand. Happily he danced that failed to be aware of the presence of a bird that had been noticing him. He lastly realized what was going on as the bird twittered. It was the one he once helped which gave the gold. “Thank you! Thank you!” said him to it. The bird then flew and never appeared again.

Dermawan bought a big house with a very big nice garden the next day. All of the poor came to his house and were welcomed for meals. Though people kept coming to his house for help, he never ran out of money. He had so much that would never cease of it, and the fields produced plants with good fruits as well. The news about his fortune was finally spread all over. It was also heard by his brother Muzakir and turned him to jealousy. Muzakir fuelled with anxiety to know the secret of his brother‘s sudden fortune, and Dermawan honestly let his brother know the details.

Muzakir immediately commanded his servants to find a bird with a broken leg and broken wings as he heard the story from his brother. Nothing was found after one week attempt in searching such a bird. He was so angry and couldn‘t sleep during the nights. A seemed to be brilliant idea came to him one morning. He asked one of his servants to catch a bird using chopsticks. And of course, the chopsticks hurt a bird and broke its wings. He then on pretended to pity the poor bird and took care of it. The days passed and the bird was completely healed and let to fly. It took not a long time fort he bird to come back to Muzakir and brought a seed for him. He was very happy and hoped for rich in his heart,” I will be very rich soon, even richer than Dermawan”, dreamily he hoped.

Muzakir planted a seed, given by the bird, at the back yard of his house, and it grew to a fine tree after several days. It also bore only a single fruit, a watermelon which was even much bigger than that once owned by Dermawan. As the harvesting time approached, Muzakir asked his servants to take the fruit and immediately cut it. He couldn‘t wait to find a pile of golden sand inside. No longer able to wait, he rush cut it and was very shocked when black mud mixed with dirt flushed out to his face. It smelled very bad. Muzakir‘s clothes and also the rug in that room were terribly dirty because of it. In rage ran him to the street, couldn‘t stand the rotten smell from the watermelon. People on the street started at him and mockingly laughed at him for what they saw. He was so ashamed being laughed at and mocked by the people.

The story teaches us to be thankful for everything given to us. It is necessary to receive things with a sincere heart because even a small gift is so valuable. This is reflected in Dermawan‘s attitude in sincerely received the small seed from the sparrow. He didn‘t grumble and expect wonderful fortune. It also teaches us that to welcome people in our house and hearts requires sacrifice, the materials as well as the moral. And it can only be rewarded by the Divine. This is illustrated by Dermawan who liked to help the poor even though he would finally lose everything. But, his sacrifice was not for nothing since it was given back to him by Allah SWT thousands times that what he had shared before. On the contrary, when people are selfish and greedy and reluctant to share with others, Allah SWT will also be reluctant to reward them. It is seen through what Muzakir experienced. He preferred to keep his fortune to himself and didn‘t want to share, so he got humiliation in return. He was annihilated from the neighborhood. He got the mud with bad rotten smell instead of a pile of golden sand as he hoped.

Prosperity comes from the Divine who is faithful and merciful. People are trusted a part of it that they can learn to share sincerely. For this reason, those who are willing to share will gain hundreds times than the amount they share with others. This folklore invites everyone to open the heart for people especially those in needs, and to share with others especially the less fortunate. Surprises and fortune are for those who willing to share; life will be more beautiful and surely the world will smile at them.

Translated from Indonesian version by (MA)

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