A Balinese Folktale: Golden Cucumber
Long time ago there was a widow who had a only daughter called Ketimun Mas (Golden Cucumber). She was a young and cute girl of about ten years of age. They lived in the western-most part of the village, close to a forest, called Dauh Yeh. There was a few neighbors who live nearby. Most of them were peasant and traders; and some raised cattle.
One day Golden Cucumber’s mother went to the market to buy food stuff as there was nothing left in the house. Before leaving she said to her daughter, “My dear Golden Cucumber, Mother will go to the market and you stay at home. Mother will buy you pancakes. Please don’t go out, stay inside in the house and lock the door. When someone come don’t open the door, except when Mother come back.”
Golden Cucumber was home alone locking herself inside the house. Suddenly a giant approached the house and called out her name in a heavy and scaring voice. “Golden Cucumber, my dear, Mama has returned home. Please open the door.” The giant spoke imitating her mother is voice. Golden Cucumber was suspicious and she knew that it was not her mother’s voice. Therefore she did not open the door. The giant waited for a long time for the door to open, and since she thought nobody was home she left.
Some moments afterwards Cucumber’s mother returned home and asked her to open the door. As Cucumber knew it was her mother’s voice she opened the door. She told her mother what had just happened. “I was really frightened, Mother,” she said. Her Mother tried to hide her fright by giving her daughter the pancakes she had promised. Then she asked: “do you know who called you?” She told her that it was the giant. Her mother then reminded her to be always inside the house locked when she was away. The giant intended to kidnap her. Golden Cucumber promised her mother to do so.
The giant came again when Cucumber’s mother went to the market. But before she arrived there the giant saw a young man who was herding his ducks. She approached him, and he was shocked when he saw she was coming near him. The giant asked him to accompany him to Cucumber’s house. He refused it, but when the giant threatened him he agreed to go.
To cut the story short, they found nobody at home. The young man was asked to call Cucumber by imitating her mother’s voice. As this time the voice seemed to be different one, Cucumber was not suspicious. As soon as she opened the door, the giant embraced him and took her away. She cried and shouted for help, but nobody heard her.
When Cucumber’s mother returned home, she found nobody home. She looked for Cucumber everywhere but it was useless. She called his name but nobody answered. She was sure that Cucumber had been kidnapped by the giant. “How can I get Cucumber back?” she thought. While she was wondering there were a cat and a rat approaching her. She then spoke to the animals: “Cat and Rat, could you help me to find my dear daughter, Cucumber? If you are successful I will give you a basket of dried fish and a sack of rice as the rewards.” Both were willing to help her, and they immediately went to the giant’s house. Cucumber was kept in a big wooden box guarded by the Blind and the Deaf. The giant herself was busy preparing the spices for cooking in the kitchen.
Knowing that Cucumber was inside the box Rat then made a hole and Cat sat at the top of the box. The noise made by the Rat was heard by the blind guard. He then said: “What noise is it over there?” The cat then mewed; and he mewed all the time. The deaf guard then said there was a cat at the top of the box. The blind guard then ordered him to scare the cat away but he was deaf he did not hear the order.
Now the hole was big enough for Cucumber to escape. Escorted by Rat and Cat, Cucumber hurriedly ran home. Her mother was anxious for her return, and when she saw Cucumber running followed by Cat and Rat she was relieved. As promised earlier by Cucumber’s mother, the two animals received their rewards, everyone was happy.