A Balinese Folktale: Black Hen
Once there was siap selem, the Black Hen, looking for food in the forest with her chicks. They always wandered to places under big tress where they could find lots of food; such as termites, worms, insects and others. They went out of their nest early in the morning and went back home at dusk. They had to go and return home. Black Hen knew very well the place they had to cross in the creek for the safety of her young chicks.
One day, while they were busy looking for food they did not realize that is was already late. The chicks reminded their mother that is was late and the sky was overcast. Their mother replied “Don’t worry children, nothing will happen.” “But we are worried, Mother, when the rain does come. The creek will be flooded and we won’t be able to cross,” the chicks said. Black Hen responded that they did not have to worry has there would not be any rain at all. But, alas, the rain did fall and the creek was flooded. They could not cross it in order to get back home before it really got dark. Black Hen thought for a while. She then said to her chicks, “Let’s go and see Mrs. Kuwuk, the civet cat. Maybe we can spend the night at her house.” All agreed and to Mrs. Kuwuk’s house they went.
Black Hen knocked at the door several times. Suddenly she heard an answer from within, “Who’s there knocking at my door?” “It’s me, Black Hen with my children. I cannot pass the creek because it is flooded. Can I spend the night at your house?” asked Black Hen. Again, she and her chicks had to wait for a moment before they got answer, “Oh, what an unlucky day for you. You cannot go home because of the flood.” Then the door was opened, “please come in and spent the night here with us.” Mrs. Kuwuk said to Black Hen and her children, “You can sleep in the kitchen because it’s warm.” “Thank you.” Black hen said to her. All then went to the kitchen in which it was a bit dark.
To cut the story short, it was already late at night. Black Hen and her chicks were still wide awake. They could not sleep because that house was not the place they used to do so. But soon one by one the little chick fell as sleep as they were tired; but no their mother. She was suspicious whit the hospitality given to them by Mrs. Kuwuk. She was restless as morning time was very far away. While her mind was wandering she overheard Mrs. Kuwuk talking to her young children, “Tonight we are going to have delicious food. We’re going to have chicken” she said to her children. “Please give me the wing so that I can use it has a fan,” One of them said. And the other begged their mother to be given other parts. Their mother reminded them not to speak loudly; otherwise their guests could her them. Black Hen thought hard for a plan to escape. She woke all her children up. They were told that Meng Kuwuk and her young wanted to kill them for food.
As the rain had stopped and the level of water in the creek had resided, Black Hen asked he children to climb the tree next to the kitchen. From there they had to fly across the creek to get home. Every time the chick flew there was a big noise. “What’s that noise from the kitchen, Black Hen?” asked Mrs. Kuwuk. “Oh, it’s a big leaf falling from the trees,” Black Hen said. All the chicks had escaped except one. This one chick had not fully grown his feathers yet, so the mother talked to him, “You stay here until you have grown your feathers so you can fly to escape. When they catch you, tell them that you are still very young. Your flesh is not good when you are eaten since it still tastes bitter.” “All right, mother, I’ll remember all that, the chick said. Then the mother left him and she flew to escape. She produced a lot of noise when she flew across the creek from the tree. Mrs. Kuwuk was suspicious that Black Hen had escaped quietly.
She peeped through a hole on the wall. There was no sign of their presence, but she sensed something behind a black object. “That must be her and the chicks” she thought. The bald chick hid himself behind a black rock. Mrs. Kuwuk crawled quietly toward it. She suddenly sprang into it with her mouth open wide. Alas, she bit the rock and broke her teeth. Her mouth was full of blood. Her children were awoken by the loud noise and tried to find their mother. When they found her they were surprised to see her mouth was full of blood. One of them asked, “What has happened to your mouth, Mother? It’s full with blood.” “I slipped and fell. My mouth was hit by the rock and now it’s bleeding. Don’t you worry. I’ m all right,” Mrs. Kuwuk lied to her children.
The next morning they found the bald chick hiding the rock. “Now, we’ve got you. We’re going to kill you for our food,” They said. “Please don’t kill me now if you want to have a delicious meat of mine,” The chick responded calmly. “What do you mean?” one of Mrs. Kuwuk’s children asked.” “I’m still young, and my flesh will still taste bitter. Raise me until I’m a bit older, and only than you can kill and eat me. My meat will taste delicious,” The chick explained. “All right if it is so,” Mrs. Kuwuk said. The chick was kept then at their pulu, the place in which they kept the rice.
To again cut the story short the chick had grown his feathers. His mother always spied from the other side of the creek. One day she saw him with his fully grown feathers. The she gave a sign that it was the right time for him to escape. He then called Mrs. Kuwuk and said, “Now time for you to kill me; but before do you it cut the string which ties me. You’re not supposed to kill me while I’m tied.” Mrs. Kuwuk cut the string, and at once he flew swiftly across the creek. The hen and her chicks shouted happily when he landed. All of Black Hen’s chicks were again united as they used to be.