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A Pouch of Grains Malaysia

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The 35.515 km2 Pahang Darul Makmur is the largest island in Malaysian Peninsula with Kuantan as its capital. It lies near Pahang River, the longest river in the Peninsula. Once, there lived a poor and lazy married couple. One day, they became suddenly rich. How did it happen? Read the following story to find out the answer.


Once upon a time, in a kampong in Pahang Island, Malay Peninsula, there lived a poor married couple. They were poor because they were lazy bones. They were lying and sitting about in their hut all day and night. They did not have anything to eat. They always blamed on destiny.

“It’s no use working, we were destined to be poor,” said the husband.

“I cannot agree more!” replied the wife.

One day, when they were sitting in front of their hut, a hunched old man stopped by.

“Excuse me, sir! Would you mind giving me some rice?” asked the old man politely.

“I am sorry, old man! We are poor people. We do not have anything to cook,” answered the wife.

Hearing the reply, the old man then observed the hut and entered.

“Pardon me! Now I see you are poor,” said the old man.

“What do you do for a living?” the old man asked.

“Nothing,” answered the husband.

“Why? This country has fertile land, doesn’t it?” asked the old man.

“It’s no use, old man! We were destined to be poor people,” answered the husband.

“Pardon me, sir! You must not give up to your destiny. You must work hard. Do you want to be rich?” asked the old man again.

“Sure, old man! We want to be rich. But how?” the couple replied.

The old man smiled. He believed that the couple would be willing to change their life. Then he took something out of his clothes. The couple observed the old man thoroughly. They were thinking that the old man was the transformation of an angel who was sent to give them diamonds.

“Alright then! If you really want to become rich, I will give you a pouch. This pouch contains precious things that will make you rich. On one condition, you must not open it before I leave this place,” explained the old man while handing the pouch to the couple.

“What is in the pouch, old man?” asked the husband, curious.

“Do not ask more! Just do as he said!” the wife told her husband.

“Tomorrow morning, spread the content of the pouch to an empty land at the back of your hut! You will get rich soon,” added the old man before leaving.

After the old man left, they opened the pouch hastily. They were disappointed. They thought that it contained diamonds, but they only got seeds of dried grains.

“I thought there were diamonds,” said the husband in disappointment.

“So did I. But we must not give up. Who knows these grains would bring us fortune,” replied the wife hopefully.

“You are right! Perhaps the old man was right,” answered the husband and then kept the grains.

On the next morning, they spread the grains on the empty land behind their hut. A few days later, the grains grew well. Since then, they became hard workers. They got rid the pests and weeds of their rice plants.

One morning, when they were getting rid of the weeds, they found their rice plants yielded much. Each plant yielded abundant crops. They were delighted to see them.

“Dear, we will be rich,” said the wife to her husband merrily.

“Yes! We won’t lack food anymore,” added the husband.

When the rice plants were rippening, they harvested them. They grew happier to have abundant yield. They were too much to eat so they kept them in the barn next to their hut.

On the next planting season, they cultivated their field again. They harvested as much as they did on the last season and the barn become fuller. After three to four months of planting and harvesting seasons, their barn could not take in more harvest. So they decided to sell some of the rice and kept the rest for their supply for the following planting season. Some were also given to poor people in the kampong.

One day, an old man in rags came to their house.

“Excuse, Sir! Would you give me some food, please? I haven’t eaten for two days!” said the old man.

The husband invited him in the house then asked his wife to cook for the old man. After everything was done, the wife served the meals to him. The old man ate heartily. Finishing his meal, the old man took leave.

“Not yet, old man!” said the husband to the old man.

“My husband is right! Stay here for couples of days,” his wife added.

“Pardon me, sir! I have to continue my journey,” said the old man. “Thank you so much for your kindness. May God bless you always,” he added.

Before leaving, the old man said something to them.

“Just so you know, sir! I am the one who gave you the pouch years ago,” said the old man.

The husband and wife were shocked to hear what the old man said. They did not expected that the old man they were having right now was the hunched who gave them a pouch of grains long time ago.

“Do forgive us, old man! We hardly recognized you,” answered the husband.

“That’s fine! I am glad with your life now. This is all because your hard work,” explained the old man while leaving.

They thanked the old man and praised the God for blessing them. At last, the couple became more industrious and prosperous. They never lacked food anymore.


That is the story of A Pouch of Grains from Pahang, Malaysian Peninsula, Malaysia. The story is categorized as exemplary folklore which contains moral messages which are useful in daily life. There are at least two moral messages conveyed; the consequence of laziness and the beneficence for working hard. The first message is shown by the laziness of both. They give their life to the destiny and refuse to work, thus they are poor. The second message is conveyed in their industriousness after the old man gives them a pouch of grains, and that makes them prosperous. Related to both attitudes, laziness and industriousness, Malay wisdom says:

Bekerja mengeluh,
Makan berkeluh.
Wahai ananda dengarkan pesan,
Terhadap bekerja janganlah segan
Supaya dapat melepaskan beban
Semoga hidupmu diberkahi Tuhan

(You work and you complain)
(You eat and still, you complain)
(Listen to this dear child,)
(To work you shall not be disinclined)
(For your living will not be short)
(and always be blessed by God)


Translation by Apri Widiastuti (trns/27/03-10)

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