(This is Tuesday Tales, where we highlight folklores and personal stories from indigenous peoples from all across Borneo. These are stories shared with us. We strive to edit it to the best of our capabilities for your enjoyment. We welcome your feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Origin: Jagoi Bidayuh, Bau
As told by: Chris Adam & Kedung Ballang
Translated by: Adrian Jo Milang
Edited by: Juvita Tatan Wan
Sketch by: Loretta Livan Milang
The story begins with Kaleng Buran – a charming, handsome and brave young man. Wherever he went, women would fall in love at the sight of him.
Nevertheless, his heart was owned by a beautiful maiden named Sipira. Not long after, they were bound together in marriage through the customs of the Bidayuh.
The beginning of their marriage was bliss. But then, again there was something strange about Kaleng Buran, as he would disappear every night, bringing up the suspicions of Sipira.
When the moon was not at its fullest or gleaming, Kaleng Buran would go out of the house and stay somewhere else and would only return home a few days later.
This strange behaviour of his made Sipira suspicious, and tension began to build in their relationship as Sipira began to feel jealous, thinking that he might be having an affair as he was a fine figure of a man adored by many.
Sipira could not help it and decided to investigate. One day when the moon was not gleaming, Kaleng Buran went out his usual ways. Without him noticing, Sipira tailed him.
As she pursued her husband, she saw that Kaleng had only been going to their hut in the forest nearby. Still her curiosity was not satisfied. She went closer to the hut and peeked through the walls.
To her surprise, she saw her handsome and gallant husband turning into a hideous man that reeked. His whole body stenched, and was covered with puss, and worms wiggling out.
Having witnessed the true nature of her husband, all the love and compassion she had, perished along with the awful sight. In her dismay, she rushed back home and locked herself in.
She intended to never see her husband ever again.
A few days later, Kaleng Buran returned, but Sipira refused to welcome him in. She was so furious and disgusted by the thought of having a husband like him, that she casted him away with hurtful words of insults. Telling him off for his dishonesty and for practicing self harming, black magic as such.
Having listened to Sipira, Kaleng Buran explained himself. For he is not what she thinks he is. He was born with this disease. For when the moon was not at its fullest or gleaming, he would turn into that hideous figure that she saw.
But his explanations fell onto deaf ears, Sipira insisted on not seeing him and asked for a divorce.
Kaleng Buran then left with a broken heart. Engulfed by his disappointment, he prayed to the gods to take him as far away from any human beings. In a blink of an eye, he ascended for the skies.
Watching her husband from below, she suddenly felt regret for what she had said and done to her poor husband’s apparent shortcomings. She rushed after him and begged for his forgiveness so that he would return to her.
But there’s no point in crying over spilt milk as Kaleng Buran’s heart had suffered so much hurt that he decided to live on the moon for eternity.
From then on, Kaleng Buran lived on the moon hence known as “Moon-Person”. Sipira who’s left on earth lived the rest of her days longing and crying for him, regretting the actions towards her husband.
With this, the gods punished her and turned her into an owl.
Therefore whence the phrase “bagai pungguk yang merindukan bulan” (Like an owl misses the moon) came to be.