The Salty River
Folklore from Central Kalimantan
A long time ago in Sepang Village, Central Kalimantan, lived a widow named Emas. Her husband died when her daughter was a baby. Her daughter’s name was Tumbai. The villagers in Sepang Village were poor.
Though they were poor, the villagers always worked hard. Fortunately there was a well in the village. So they always had enough water to live.
Tumbai was a very good daughter. She was diligent and obedient. She always helped her mother and listened to her mother’s advice. She also liked to help other people. That was why everybody knew her.
Tumbai was not only famous for her kindness, but she was also famous for her beauty. She was very beautiful! Many young men fell in love with her. One by one, they proposed her to be their wife. However, Tumbai always refused the marriage proposal. She was confused. So she prayed to God to give her guidance.
Finally she got the answer. In her dream, an old man asked her to marry a man who could change the well from fresh water into salt water. When she woke up, Tumbai was very confused.
She thought it was diffi cult for a man to change the fresh water into salt water. Fresh water did not have any taste. It was different from sea water which is salty.
When Tumbai told her mother about her dream, her mother was also confused. However, she knew that her daughter was very good and wouldnít lie to her. Her mother had a feeling, probably God was going to help t h e m from poverty.
Her mother then made an announcement that Tumbai would marry a man who could change the fresh water in the well into salt water. Everybody was laughing. They thought Tumbai and her mother were crazy.
But it did not stop those young men to try. They really wanted to marry Tumbai. So they all tried to change the fresh water into salt water. But they all failed.
One day a man came. He lived in the riverside of Barito River. He had supernatural
“Ma’am, I’m here to marry your daughter,” said the man to Emas, Tumbai’s mother.
“Do you know the test?” asked Emas.
“I do. I will change the fresh water into salt water,” said the man.
The man then sat down next to the well. He was meditating and prayed to God. All the villagers were circling the man. They all were curious.
After a while, the man finished meditating. He stood up and asked the villagers to taste the water from the well.
It worked! He succeeded in changing the water. Tumbai was happy. She fi nally found her dream husband.
And her mother was right. After the water was salty, the villagers were not poor anymore. They changed the salty water into salt. They sold it and they had money.
The salty water was flowing from the well to the Kahayan River. Until now people still taste the salty water in Kahayan River. They also think that the legend really happened.