The Story of the Insect
Storyteller: Arenla Subong
Translated by Arenla Subong
Once upon a time two daughters lived with their father and their stepmother. The stepmother did not like the elder daughter but she was fond of the younger one. The elder girl was the more beautiful of the two, and she was also very talented and could weave beautiful shawls and she excelled in whatever she did, so her stepmother became envious of her.
As the years passed the two girls matured both mentally and physically, and the elder girl realized the situation she was in. She knew that her stepmother did not like her and she wondered what to do about it. She told her sister “Look, our mother does not love me and she is not in favour of me and I feel bad about being here when she does not like me. The more I do to please her, the more she dislikes me. She is so rude to me that I know she does not love me nor will she ever love me, so I am think of leaving this home.” The younger girl replied, “Sister, don’t think that way! If she loves me, one day you can win her love too because you are so beautiful and you do everything so well. You are trying so hard to please her and to win her love so surely she will love you too and then we will both be so happy here, so don’t ever think of leaving, we will all stay together here”.
But the elder sister could not stop her thoughts because the harassment she was experiencing was really taking its toll on her and she had the deep conviction that she could be independent and manage on her own so she became more firm in her decision. So one day, when their parents had gone to work in the field she said, “Look, I want to leave this house before our parents return”. She then went over to the bamboo basket, we call it the “akat” and she looked through the cloth that she had woven, because she was a very accomplished weaver. She took out a “mekhla” (a wrap around) and a shawl and she wore one around her waist and the other around her shoulders, and then she said, “I am ready to leave home, I am going to leave this house forever!” The younger sister tried to stop her and even tried to grab her clothes as she was putting them on but she did not succeed. Then the elder girl announced, “I am leaving!” and she just took off. She walked so fast and the younger girl followed along, still trying to convince her to stay. “Come back, I know mother is going to love you too, I can’t live without you”, she said. “Please, I am going to miss you, don’t leave!” She begged. The sister replied, “If you want to come, follow me!” And she walked so fast that all of a sudden they were deep in the forest, with the sounds of the birds and animals. “Sister, lets go back home! We cannot go anywhere from here, we don’t know the place and we will be lost!” The elder girl replied, “I have decided! If you don’t want to come, then go back, that’s up to you but I know that from here I can go on somewhere and make a new life”. When they were shedding tears and arguing they heard voices, “Look! Look! I think they are over there!” When the girls looked to see where the voices were coming from they saw their father and stepmother who had come out looking for them as by now it had become dark. When they saw their parents the elder daughter ran, and as she went her mekhla and her shawl flew open like wings. The younger girl tried to grab her but the sister flew up and rested against the top of the tree trunk.
Fearing that she would be unable to escape, something supernatural occurred and the shawl and mekhla transformed into wings and she was able to fly right up to the top of the tallest tree. The younger daughter was astonished, “What happened to you?!” she exclaimed. At that moment the parents reached the spot and they demanded, “What happened? Where is your sister?” They were furious. “Come back home. What are you doing here, and where is your sister?” At that moment the other girl, who had become an insect – we call it the “atatangula” – started making this loud noise that it makes during daytime in the spring and summer.The younger daughter told her parents that her sister was up there at the top of the tree and had become an insect. The stepmother grabbed her hand and said, “Come come, no need to think about her. You come back home!” The insect up there on the tree started its call again, “Chang, chang, chang”. The stepmother pulled the younger daughter with her and then she turned and spat up at the elder daughter in the tree. At that moment a tiger sprang up from the jungle below them, growled at the stepmother and pounced on her and that was the end of her life. The father and the younger daughter traveled and went somewhere else where they met some villagers. They settled there and the girl got married to a rich man and every spring time when the warm weather starts this insect – the sister – would come outside her sister’s house and give that sound announcing her presence. The married sister would then say, “Ati! (This is the respectful way of addressing our elder sister), You are here at this time of year! I am going to give you something special”. And she would put something special that she had prepared on a plate for her sister, and the sister would open her wings to gesture thanks. So life went on like that without the stepmother. It was a new beginning