Indonesian Folktale: Everybody has his Burden
“Everybody has his burden but the heaviest burden is for the small and low”.
Once there was a mango tree. It had many large branches which gave generous shade and bore many luscious fruits. Everybody who saw the fine yield of fruit admired the tree and wished they owned a tree like it.
One day, a complaining voice was heard right under the bottom of the tree. “Poor me. What a burden I have to bear. I’ve got to carry such a load; the heavy trunk, all the huge branches, all the leaves and fruit. So heavy is my load that I’m buried alive in the soil. Never I am able to see the nice work of nature above earth. Never can I breathe fresh air or see the moon or the sun.
On contrary, people hurt me when they sometimes pull me out to plant me somewhere else. Oh, I can’t describe how I suffer all the time. Only God knows my sufferings. What a nice life the trunk has”.
When the trunk heard this sullen outburst, he answered:
“My Dear brother, don’t talk like that. Do you really think I have a nice life? You don’t know how I have to bear the weight of those great branches and all that load of fruit on me. I’m always frightened when there is a hard whirlwind shaking my body. The whirlwind turns and twist my body so badly. You don’t know how it hurts. I am fortunate if I don’t break into two. If I do, then everything is finished.”
“One thing I hate. Day after day, people who bring firewood to the market lean their heavy bundles of wood to me. Torture my flesh when they strike their axes on my body. I bleed them for hours. Besides this, even the people lean on me at the same time. No need to tell you what my suffering is all that weight to support. Do you think they are thankful to me? Not at all. Then only notice the leaves above their heads who gave them shade. Of what use are those leaves? They only have a nice life, dancing whenever there is the slightest breeze.”
The grumbling of the trunk was heard by the leaves. They fretted to hear these words of envy about themselves. So they said grumpily:
How sad we are to hear you both talking like that. How ungrateful you both you are. Isn’t it we who protect you from the burning rays of the sun? And what about the raining season? We always do our best to protect you from the harsh squalls that drench you. We protect you from the strong whirlwind with will uproot you. How much we suffer during these severe winds. We creak and rattle from their hand whippings and lacking. We are smacked down on earth and flung here and there and everywhere. Those of us who will still have the strength to hold onto a branch to avoid falling are solely scratched. Those of us who are scattered on the earth are collected by the people. For a moment, we are glad to be together again but the happiness does not last long. We realized this togetherness is until we are put to death by fire and turned into ash. How can you say that we have a nice life! It’s the fruit who have a nice life, hanging and swinging all day. It is the fruit that counts for everybody.”
The fruits were saddened to hear this talk. They said in a sulky voice:
“ My Dear brothers and sisters, how sad we are to hear your words. It is far from the truth of what we actually feel and what we have to face every time. We are the most to be pitied.”
We always live in fear. We have to keep up our good name all the time, to be famous throughout the world. If we are not sweet and delicious and pretty, people won’t buy us. They will cut us all off and you will become firewood.
“Besides that, how about the children who had stones at us when we are doing our best to take care ourselves and ripen into beauties that people will want to buy? And even when we are ripe we have to suffer when we are eaten by people. We are not complaining, After all, people like to grow us because we are delicious. And that means they respect us. The best of us seeds selected and replanted. We have pride seeing our descendants: seeds of our seeds.”
“ Stop! Stop talking!” The root said harshly again.”No need to talk anymore. All of you depend on me. If I don’t exist all of you will not be there. If I’m sick then there will no trunk, no leaves, no fruit. I have to work hard to all of you, looking for the food you all need. Have for no thought of me who has to do so much for all of us? Do you think only of your own feelings?
So it must be among people too, say the Bataks. Think what other feel before you take a step. The true balance of democracy is when the leaves, fruit, trunks and roots are all taken into the picture.