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( A Murut Folk Tale ) 

It was the tradition of the Murut tribe to select a chief from amongst them. There was an old man with a 'Titimbak' (Murut traditional head gear), who claimed that he was the chief of all chiefs. The folk accepted him as their righfful 'Orang Tua' (Chief) and followed his advise and instructions. This was probably because he was very practical, wise and kind-hearted.

One day he instructed all the villagers to cultivate as many 'Tabasan' (rice fields) as possible, which meant that they had to clear a lot of jungle and bushes for planting.

They obediently did what the old man instructed. Before the clearing began, the old man told them to spare the Nibong and Menggaris trees. After the massive and tiring job of clearing the sites. the villagers began to plant.

It did not take long and they were able to harvest quantities of rice like never before. There was enough to feed everyone for a very long time. However the storage space was not enough to accommodate the huge quantity of the rice harvest and the villagers began to worry. The old man calmed them down and promised to take care of the grain's storage. He used his magic power and stored all the harvest inside the Nibong and Menggaris trees.

The villagers were very happy and praised their chief for his good idea. However, the old man had to stand guard by the trees all the time in order to ensure a fair distribution of rice among the villagers.

As time went by, most of the villagers became greedy and hinted that the old man was misusing his power. They decided to protest and find a better solution for a fair distribution.

After a big argument and protest by the villagers, the old man said: "If you want to see all the grain, it can never be restored again as it is against the magic power". However, at this stage inquisitiveness was stronger than any other reason and the villagers demanded that the old man produces the rice stored in the trees.

In a fit of anger the old man threw his spear into the Menggaris and Nibong trees and all the golden grain came pouring out of the trees, until the ground was paved with rice. By now, the villagers started to realise that they were wrong about their chief. Howevec it was too late. They had misjudged the Orang Tua. The magic power of the old man worked only once. The old man felt very offended having his leadership doubted and laid o curse upon all of them.

He said: "Your generation shall meet a similar fate to that of the banana trees. When the old tree dies it will leave the young to fend for itself." So it was to be with the villagers. The young had to fend for themselves ffom this date onwards.

Since they were cursed, the villagers begged the old man to impose a lesser punishment upon them. They preferred to be like the moon. When the full moon disappears the young moon will immediately appear again. The old man agreed but he caused the tribe to inherit both punishments. Unlike before with an unending supply of rice from the old man, they had to work very hard for a living even till this day.


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