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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Gondoruwo (English Version)

     In the earlier part of my postings in this blog, my father's house, like other houses in Kampung Batu 6 Bakri, was lighted by paraffin lamps, or sometimes gasoline lamps at night.  Those were the days when I was still so small.  I remember when I was in primary school, suddenly I found that there was a chinese man in the house, fitting electric wires all over the house.  Later, our house, like almost all other houses in the village was lighted up with electric bulbs at night.  We were very happy.  Our house looked different once dusk fall.

     Then once in a while, there was no electricity.  When this happened, our old paraffin lamp would come into view, giving its service once more.  Then, mother would lie down beside the dear old lamp, followed by her children, me included.  Some would sit on the wooden floor, eager to listen to any story that would come out of her mouth.  Yes!  Sometimes she would tell stories about her experiences when she was small, after she got married with father and stayed in Tanjong Pagar, Singapore, folk tales etc.  One of the stories that I remember now was 'Gondoruwo'.  Strangely, I remember hearing it from my father, not Mom.

     Gondoruwo is the name of a 'ghost' in the Malay (or rather Javanese; I am not sure) folk tales.  Then I enjoyed listening to Dad, but I didn't care whether the story was true or not.  Now I got to know that there was a horror film produced in Indonesia that used 'Gondoruwo' as its title, directed by Ratno Timoer with he himself as the leading actor with Farida Pasha as the heroine.

     According to Dad, "Gondoruwo' liked to play with his eyes.  If it happened that you met face to face with a gondoruwo, just follow whatever it said.  If you resist, you are lucky if you could see the sun the next day.

     "Once upon a time, there was a hut at the edge of the forest.  (Those days, there were so few houses and the forests were vast, of course, since there were not so many people as today).  A couple stayed in the house, the wife's name was Halimah and the husband, Halim.  One day, Halim told Halimah.  "I am going away tomorrow, dear.  Close and lock all doors and windows while I was away."

     "Don't worry, dear," Halimah answered.

     That night, Halimah heard a husky voice calling.

     "Halimah!  Halimah!  Open the door."

     "Come ini, Master," she said as she opened the door.  A ghost (gondoruwo) appeared and sat by the door.

     "Halimah, Halimah, I want to eat sugar cane," gondoruwo said in a big, gruff voice.

     "Go ahead, Master," Halimah answered.  (I am not sure where that monster got the sugarcane.)

     After he had finished eating, he said, "Halimah, Halimah, I want to play with my eyes."

     "Carry on, Master,"  Halimah answered.  So he played with his eyes.  He rolled his red eyes left and right, left and right.

     Then he said again, "Halimah, Halimah, I want to go home."

     "You're welcome, Master," answered Halimah.

     After he disappeared into the night, Halimah closed and locked the door.

     The next day, Halimah related what had happened to her husband.

     "Nonsense!  Gondoruwo is not that kind.  It would have killed you if it were him.," Halim retorted.

     "Alright!  If you're doubtful, you'll stay home tonight.  I'll go to Mom's,"  Halimah started to get angry.

     "I'll prove you wrong!"

     At dusk, after locking all doors and windows, Halim sat waiting for the said 'gondoruwo'.  He was confident that the creature wasn't what his wife had wanted him to believe and he would prove that she was wrong.

     Suddenly he heard a husky voice calling.  "Halimah, Halimah. Open the door."  Halim's face turned white as a sheet.  He froze.  The gruff voice called out again.  "Halimah! Halimah! Open the door," this time it was louder.  Halim became more frightened.  With his heart beating very fast, he sprinted into the bedroom, locking the door behind him.  He leaned on the door, shaking from head to foot.  The monster's loud voice called again, very near Halim, as if it was just behind the wooden wall of the house.  The urgent tone indicated that 'gondoruwo' had started get angry.

     "HALIMAH!  HALIMAH!  OPEN THE DOOR!"  Halim began to feel weak in the knees.  He crawled towards the mattress and wrapped himself with it, hoping 'gondoruwo' would not find him.

     Then, there was a loud bang.  Halim almost wet himself.  He couldn't do anything apart from keeping very still.

*     *     *

     When Halimah came home the next day, she saw that the house door was broken.  She called out to her husband but received no answer.  Halimah climbed into her house and found that everything was haywire.  Her 'kekabu' mattress was scratched to pieces.  'Kekabu' strewn all over the place.  Her husband was amongst the 'kekabu', without the head, hands and legs.

     "I told you so," she whispered softly.

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