Sunday, February 8, 2009

Reminiscing the Story of Puteri Santubong

I am about to share a legend-song told by my parents and grandparents, and sung again and again by my people.
This is a song entitled "Puteri Sentubung" (English: Princess Sentubung); it is a pride of my people:



The lyrics in Bahasa Sarawak with English translation:

O… Puteri Sentubung,
O… Princess Sentubung
Sejinjang sayang,
Beloved Sejinjang
Kesah lamak,
An old story
Jaman menseya mayang
Of forgotten time

Puteri Sentubung, Puteri Sejinjang,
Princess Sentubung, Princess Sejinjang
Penjaga gunung negeri Serawak,
Guardians of Sarawakian mountains
Manis sik ada dapat dilawan,
Beatiful they were, unmatched
Anak dak dewa turun kayangan
Daughers of gods descended from the heaven

O… Sentubung puteri,
O… Sentubung the princess
Bertenun kain malam,
Who weaves fabric at nightime
Ooo… Sejinjang puteri,
O… Sejinjang the princess
Menumbuk padi siang
Who thumps paddy at daytime

Satu hari nya duak kelaie,
One day they quarreled,
Beranok-anok sik henti-henti,
Exchanging words unrelentingly,
Sorang madah dirik bagus agi,
One said she was better
Sorang sik kalah walau sampe ke mati.
The other did not give in, even to death

Puteri Sentubung, Puteri Sejinjang,
Princess Sentubung, Princess Sejinjang
Penjaga gunung negeri Serawak,
Guardians of Sarawakian mountains
Manis sik ada dapat dilawan,
Beatiful they were, unmatched
Anak dak dewa turun kayangan.
Daughers of gods descended from the heaven

O… Puteri Sentubung,
O… Princess Sentubung
Sejinjang sayang,
Beloved Sejinjang
Udah bermusuh berpanjang-panjang,
Are now enemies for a long time
Sayang...
Pity...

Udah lejuk nya duak kelaie,
Endless altercations wore them out
Lalu bertukuk nya duak puteri,
Finally, fighting they were
Sejinjang mengayun aluk ke pipi,
Sejinjang swung a slap to her (Sentubung’s) face
Tebik sentubung sampe gitok ari.
Sentubung became dented, until today.

Tapi Sentubung membalas juak,
But Sentubung fought back,
Lalu ditikam batang belida,
A daggered pole she threw, then
Lalu terkenak sejinjang ke palak,
Right at Sejinjang’s head it went
Lalu bertabur jadi Pulo Kerak.
(Sejinjang) shattered and became the Isle of Monkey

Puteri Sentubung, Puteri Sejinjang,
Princess Sentubung, Princess Sejinjang
Penjaga gunung negeri Serawak,
Guardians of Sarawakian mountains
Manis sik ada dapat dilawan,
Beatiful they were, unmatched
Anak dak dewa turun kayangan.
Daughers of gods descended from the heaven

Kesah Sentubung kesah Sejinjang,
The story of Sentubung and the story of Sejinjang
Asal berkawan jadi musuhan
Once were close friends, then became bitter enemies
Kinek tok tinggal jadi kenangan,
Now are left to be memories
Pakey ingatan sepanjang jaman,
As a lesson for all time

Puteri Sentubung, Puteri Sejinjang,
Princess Sentubung, Princess Sejinjang
Penjaga gunung negeri Serawak,
Guardians of Sarawakian mountains
Manis sik ada dapat dilawan,
Beatiful they were, unmatched
Anak dak dewa turun kayangan.
Daughers of gods descended from the heaven

Puteri Sentubung, Puteri Sejinjang…
Princess Sentubung, Princess Sejinjang...


Legend about Puteri Sentubung and Puteri Sejinjang (as so it was passed to me and how I understand it):

Puteri Sentubung and Puteri Sejinjang were daughters of the King of heaven and were two most beautiful Princesses in the world. They were descended from their heavenly palaces to take care of mountains in Sarawak and people who lived there. On Earth, they worked just as normal people did: Puteri Sentubung worked as a weaver while Puteri Sejinjang worked as a paddy-thumper. Puteri Sentubung and Puteri Sejinjang were best friends. As best friends, they did many things together: they grow up together, eat together, played together etc. But their friendship did lost last forever...

One day, a handsome Prince from land afar came to Sarawak. His name was Putera Jaya (other version: Putera Serapi) [English: Prince Jaya/Prince Serapi]. Putera Jaya met both Puteri Sentubung and Puteri Sejinjang. Awed by the handsomeness and manly behavior of Putera Jaya, Puteri Sentubung and Puteri Sejinjang had a crush with him... in secret. As time went by, Putera Jaya fell in love with one of them; his heart preferred Puteri Sentubung over her best friend, Puteri Sejinjang.

At first, things were okay between Puteri Sentubung and Puteri Sejinjang. But eventually, things changed. Sentubung were deep in love with Putera Jaya. She cared nothing except Putera Jaya. Sejinjang, once her best friend, is now ignored just because of Putera Jaya. Not only that, Puteri Sentubung was also careless in her heavenly job as Warden of the mountain and its people and his earthly job as paddy-thumper. Her days and nights were spent with Putera Jaya and Putera Jaya alone.

Of course this did not bode well for Puteri Sejinjang. Not only she lost her bestfriend, she also has to shoulder extra responsibilities of guarding the mountain and its people alone! With Puteri Sentubung neglecting her paddy-thumping job, many paddies were not processed into rice. As a consequence, starvation reigned throughout the land. Morevover, Sejinjang had a heart for Putera Jaya. But knowing that he is her bestfriend's love, Puteri Sejinjang tried to ignore her inner feeling for her best friend's sake. But, love, when suppressed, is a hard thing to contain - it bursts! From suppression it becomes jealousy, from jealousy it becomes enmity.

Finally, Puteri Sejinjang lost her patience. Puteri Sejinjang then hurled words to Puteri Sentubung, accusing Sentubung for neglecting her jobs and her endless mingling with Putera Jaya. Dismayed, Puteri Sejinjang replied, "I am better than you!" and her claim was true.... until she uttered the very claim. Between the two, Puteri Sentubung was naturally more beautiful than Puteri Sejinjang. She was smarter and did many things better than Puteri Sejinjang. When they were child, the King of heaven favored Puteri Sentubung more than Puteri Sejinjang because of her superior beauty and skill. Perhaps this is a ground for Puteri Sentubung to claim her superiority over Puteri Sejinjang.

Now, they no longer talk to each other. The only time the two princesses talk were the time when they hurled curses and accusations over each other for each others' weaknesses and mistakes. But, it was not them who were hurt the most: it was the mountains and people who lived there that suffered the most! Once, people had little food and natural disasters because of Puteri Sentubung's neglect. Now, in addition to the former, they now live naked because Puteri Sejinjang no longer provided clothes for them. Furthermore, diseases as a result of heat and cold now ensue the people - thanks to Puteri Sejinjang.

Long time had passed. The once large, thriving and prosperous mountains and people under Puteri Sentubung and Puteri Sejinjang's protection are now almost reduced to nil. On one hand, Puteri Sentubung is blinded by excessive affection. Puteri Sejinjang, on the other hand, is bogged by excessive hatred. And one day, Puteri Sejinjang made her mind. Because of Puteri Sentubung, she becomes the way she right now: full of hatred, unproductive, and not having a lover. She no longer remember the sweet time when she and Puteri Sentubung were holding hands and singing together. The only thing she knows now that Puteri Sentubung is a thief of her soulmate, a betrayer of friendship, and an irresponsible ilk: it is time for REVENGE! And so she went to see Puteri Sentubung, for one last time...

At so they met and clashed. First, with words. But later, with hands. Puteri Sejinjang started the great fight - it was told that people suffered great thunderstorms lasted for days because of the fight. Puteri Sejinjang, due to her anger, swung her hand very hard and fast that it landed squarely on Puteri Sentubung's face and displaced Puteri Sentubung's jaw and bled Puteri Sentubung's mouth - a fatal blow to Puteri Sentubung's beauty. That is why when one sees the Santubong mountain today, one can see a dent on the higher part of the mountain - a physical manifestation of the "great slap" by Puteri Sejinjang on Puteri Sentubung's face, and so the legend tells.

Of course Puteri Sentubung did not stay silent. Now she had lost her eternal beauty. She did not want to be succumbed by what she perceived as inferior Sejinjang. In a flash, she took a daggered pole and threw it towards Puteri Sejinjang. The pole hit right at Puteri Sejinjang's head and shattered it subsequently. And this marked the end of Puteri Sejinjang's life. Today, if one passes by Mount Santubong, one can see a group of small islands right beside Mount Santubong. These are Pulo Kerak (Isles of Monkey), a remnant of Puteri Sejinjang. And so the legend tells.

Puteri Sentubung won the battle but it was not a sweet victory. Suddenly she regretted her misdeed - she killed her very own bestfriend and the only true friend she had. Putera Jaya, once he learned about the killing, soon deserted Puteri Sentubung. She then turned to the mountains to see the people but the people rejected her as she rejected the people. In great forlorn, she went to Puteri Sejinjang's dead body and cried over and over...

After many days of crying and neglecting herself, she is now weak, physically hurt, and ugly. At the brink of her death, she called to the heaven, a place she had long forgotten. The heaven King , who was her own father, she ignored simply because of a man. To her father then she begged for mercy. But as King, her father chose justice over mercy towards her. Because she had neglected her jobs, many lives were lost and nations destroyed; because she had abandoned her friends, she had sown hatred and enmity inside the heart of a sincere friend; because she chose blind andunrestrained affection towards Putera Jaya over genuine love of Puteri Sejinjang, she opened a way for Puteri Sejinjang's jealousy and feelings of loneliness that finally bred contempt and evil deed; because she failed to give love and friendship to Puteri Sejinjang, her beauty was stripped from her and her stripping the life of her best friend; most importantly, because of her arrogance, her thoughts that she is better than Puteri Sejinjang, had led her to do to all misdeeds and maladies mentioned.

In the end, she died a dishonorable death. The heaven cursed her to become a mountain - Mount Santubong, as a lesson for all people to see the dire consequence of arrogance and neglect of friendship. While Puteri Sejinjang was condemnable of her jealousy and hatred, her faults was not as great as Puteri Sentubung's. That is why Pulo Kerak (the Isles of Monkey) are relatively hidden from eyesights by towering Mount Santubong itself that can be seen many miles away, and so the legend tells.

Such is the sad story of Puteri Sentubung and Puteri Sejinjang; a story passed down for generations and shared by all people of Sarawak as a reminder for themselves and for others.

Lest we forget.

THE END

p/s: Although I do not subscribe to paganistic elements of the song, the moral behind the story is well worth taking note.

6 comments:

Michael said...

I've always wanted to know the whole legend/story of Santubong & Sejinjang ever since I heard the song first time on telly during my childhood.

Thank you for sharing the story.
It's very nice.

nova said...

You're welcome. :)

Isbjørn Fra Nord said...

I never know there's a story behind the song lol...

nana_heartilly said...

so this is the story behind the song.. can i share this? :) will giv crdt though.

nana_heartilly said...

wow. great! can i share the story? :)
will credit u of course. (^.^)v

nova said...

Nana: Sure, why not?