Rabu, 03 Maret 2021

A MINANGKABAU BOY - Cerita Rakyat Dalam Bahasa Inggris

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Hasril gave the ball made of newspaper a good kick, sending it flying off the dirt road into the wet mud of a freshly planted rice paddy. “Goal!” he cried to his friends, and ran down the small, grassy path to his home.

“Hey, Ma! I’m home!” Hasril shouted to his mother who was feeding the chickens behind the house. Quickly, he removed his shoes and ran inside, throwing his backpack full of books on the table. He was late coming home from school and his father had already left for the rice paddy. If he was going to have any time with the water buffalo, he would have to eat and finish his homework quickly.

The table was already set for the afternoon meal. Hasril grabbed an empty plate and filled it with rice from a large pot. He selected a piece of fish from one serving plate and spoonful of kangkung from another. Using his hands, he hungrily shoveled the spicy food into his mouth.

“I see you have found your lunch, Hasril,” his mother laughed, coming in from the back with a basket full of laundry. “Do your homework and then I have some food some food for you to take your father in the field.” Hasril’s mother set down had followed her inside out the door again.

Hasril is an 11 year old Minangkabau boy. The Minang live in a mountainous region of Western Sumatra, although many have moved to other parts of the country. They are a farming people who raise a large variety of crops in this fertile, volcanic highland. Everything from broccoli to onions, white potatoes, beans, lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, eggplant, cauliflower and cucumbers are grown in small family, patchwork-like squares of ground. But mostly, they are rice farmers with paddies planted up the mountainsides like wide stairs.

Hasril was anxious to help his father in the family rice paddy. Unlike his brother Achmal, who was studying to be a master wood carver in the nearby village of Pandai Sikat, Hasril had always wanted to be a farmer. He loved to feel the wet mud of the rice paddy oozing between his toes. He loved the smell of the fresh, new seedlings and the sight of waving fields of golden grain ready to be cut. But mostly Hasril loved his water buffalo, Rabu. He finished his homework, quickly changed from his school uniform into an old t-shirt and shorts, and ran out the door.

“Bye, Ma!” Hasril shouted, picking up the fried tapioca root his mother had carefully wrapped in banana leaves and the pot of hot coffee for his father. Then down the road he went, sometimes running, sometimes walking, his bare feet feeling each stone on the rough, dirt road.

At the family’s rice paddy, Hasril’s father had already started clearing out the rice plant roots to prepare the field for planting. Rice grows like grass and the roots become tangled in the wet mud that is left after the plants are cut. This work is done with a water buffalo pulling a bajak which looks and works like a giant comb to tug the stubborn roots loose from the soil.

“Hasril! How was school? Here, you take over. After all, Rabu loves you best,” Hasril’s father said, pulling the large water buffalo to a stop.

“Okay, Pak!” Hasril answered, taking the reins from his father. Hasril felt proud and grown-up standing behind this animal-five times size and many more times his weight.

Hasril moved his water buffalo up and down the muddy rice paddy. Then at one turn, the water buffalo slipped and fell on his side, plunging Hasril into the thick mud. The buffalo struggled to get up, kicking his leg and moving his head and horns back and forth to gather the momentum to haul his huge form from the sticky mud.  Hasril didn’t dare let go of the buffalo, and the bull’s  strong movements threw him in and out of the reins tightly to keep the scared bull from running away. In only a moment, both were again going up and down the paddy as though nothing had happened.

Father and son spent the afternoon clearing the padi and as the sun was setting, they unhitched the buffalo. Hasril climbed on the great bull and, holding onto Rabu’s back far from the buffalo’s sharp horns, he rode all the way home.

The next morning was Sunday, and Hasril’s family took the family bendi, a small brightly colored horse-cart, into the town of Bukittinggi.

Bukittinggi, the center of Minangkabau culture, is a small mountainous town surrounded by many villages of kampungs like Hasril’s. Two of these villages are famous throughout the world Pandai Sikat where amazing woodcarvers turn out intricate designs with simple tools, and weavers create the elaborate traditional songket cloth of the Minangkabau : cotton woven with spun silver. The other is the village of Koto Gadang where silversmiths twist and turn silver threads into the delicate filigree earrings, necklace chains and bracelets that have become treasures in many countries outside of Indonesia.

But today, Hasril’s family needed to buy a cangkul, a tool that looks like a hoe but functions as shovel, rake, and spade. While his father bargained for the tool and his mother bartered with another merchant for length of cloth, Hasrils wandered along the nearby street.

Everywhere Hasril looked he could see his proud Minangkabau heritage. The name Minangkabau means “winning buffalo” and refers to the ancient story bout the beginning of the Minang people. In the mid 1300’s, invaders from Java came to conquer the land. The strongly outnumbered and out armed Minang thought of a clever plan to maintain their independence without bloodshed.

As the story goes, the chiefs of both sides decided to settle the dispute with a fight between two water buffaloes. The Javanese produced a monster of creatures-the largest water buffalo that they could find. The Minang brought to the contest a hungry, half-starved nursing baby water buffalo with knives tied to his short horns. Baby ran towards the Javanese prized buffalo to find milk and nuzzled his adversary, wounding the huge beast with his sharp knives.

Out of their deep respect for this animal, the Minangkabau build their roofs in a sloping U-shape to represent the water buffalo’s horns. The market skyline where Hasril stood was a maze of buffalo horn roofs in all directional. His own home in the village had a metal roof in the traditional sloping U-shape.

“Time to go, Hasril. We don’t want to miss the beginning,” Hasril’s father called to him as he emerged from the store with his new cangkul.

How could he have forgotten? Today his father had promised to take him the buffalo! Quickly, he ran to catch up.

Hasril and his father went by cart to the arena in the neighboring village. Buffalo fight had been a part of Minang tradition since they first claimed their independence some 600 years ago. As father and son came closer, they became part of a mass of people heading towards the same place-an open field outside the village.

By the time they arrived, several hundred people had formed a large square with two water buffaloes in opposite corners, held tightly by their owners. Hasril’s father swung Hasril up on his. Shoulders and they watched as the water buffaloes came face to face in the ring.

The rope that each owner had wound securely around his arm was attached to the water buffalo through the bull’s pierced nose. Water buffaloes do not naturally want to fight, so the owners must make their bulls angry. First they cut the rope that goes through the water buffalo’s nose. Then they spit on the rope remaining in their hands while running around the bulls, yelling. This spitting in a way to control the animal’s spirit and sure enough, within second, the water buffaloes charged at each other. Then they drew back. More spitting and the bulls locked horns again.

Hasril and his father were cheering. The crowd was roaring advice, hoping that their favorite buffalo would win. Suddenly one water buffalo pulled away, stumbled back and charged out of the ring, sending the on-lookers running in every direction. The bull that remained within the square was the winner.

Hasril and his father stayed to watch one more match. Then they followed the hundreds of people heading home as they laughed and talked and played and argued about whose bull was best.

Today on their return, Hasril and his father came across a neighbor’s wedding ceremony. They entertainment had started with a wonderful plate dance. Hasril and his father stopped to watch the dancers in their traditional dress, including the women’s sloping U-shaped hats. A dukun or magic man stood behind the dancers and kept them from cutting their feet as they jumped and danced on sharp shards of glass while twirling two plates in their hands.

Although Minang people are strongly Moslem, they still believe in hidden spiritual forces. Hasril’s life will always include these magical forces: special rites for the planting of rice, for the carving of wood, for the weaving of cloth, for the ceremonial dances.

Even in modern times, the Minang people are tied to their adat, their customs, in ways that is difficult for even other Indonesians to understand. From morning until night, from birth until death, everything Hasril does must follow the adat, the ancient customs that have made the Minang life strong from generation to generation. According to Minang adat, Hasril’s mother is the owner of all family goods and land, not his father adapt tells Hasril what to wear, whom he should marry and how the girls will ask him, what foods are to be eaten and when. It is a set of strong unwritten rules that cannot be broken.

But for now Hasril was tired. He lay down on his rope bed with its kapok mattress and fell asleep-happy with his independent Minang heritage, his home and many blessings, happy for the strength to be a water buffalo boy.

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