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April's Borneo Legends & Myths


Text & Images Courtesy of SarawakAlive!


THIS  IS an old story about crocodiles.  It happened many, years ago in the Samarahan River.

There were lots of crocodiles living in that river.  The crocodiles were very friendly towards people then.  They never ate children.  They never took dogs.  But one day the crocodiles changed.  This is how it happened.

One night there was a gendang party in kampong near the Samarahan River.  This party was to celebrate the end of harvesting.  Many boys went to the gendang party.  Among them there were seven strange boys.  The people in the kampong wanted to know where they came from.  But when the gendang was over, the seven boys quickly left the kampong.

One old man thought that these seven boys might be crocodiles.  He was not sure about it and he wanted to find out.  Held a meeting with the other kampong people.  He told them of his plan to find out where the strangers came from.  So, one night, they held another gendang party in their kampong.

The gendang began and the seven boys came again.  The older men quietly left the house.  Some of them went to the foot of the hill because they thought the seven boys were from the hill.   Some of them went to the river.  Soon, they heard people running towards the river.  It was the seven boys.

The men hid and waited to see what the boys would do.  The seven boys quickly ran into the bushes and then jumped into the river.  The men saw them turning into crocodiles!  Now they knew who the seven boys were; they believed that the crocodiles could change themselves into people.

One man wanted to catch one of the crocodiles and make him stay human.  So he held a gendang party.   Then he hid near the river and waited.

A few minutes later the man saw the water in the river moving.

Seven crocodiles were swimming to the river bank.  There they changed themselves into seven boys.   They put their crocodiles skins on the branches of a tree.

Then they set off to the gendang party.  When they had gone, the man took one of the crocodiles' skin and hid it.

The six crocodiles jumped
into the river and swam away

Later the boys returned.   They picked up their skins and jumped into the river.  But one of them could not find it.  One of them saw a man's footprint on the muddy ground.  They knew then that  a man must have taken the skin.  The six crocodiles jumped into the river and swam away.

The last one cried when the others told him to stay as a boy.  He did not want to be a boy.  He wanted to be crocodile again.  He cried and cried.  He wanted to see his six brothers, his father and mother again.  At last he died of broken heart.

The six brothers were very angry.  They would revenge their brother's death.  From that night crocodiles began to catch and eat human beings.  But the six crocodiles only killed the relations of the man who had killed their brother.

Since then crocodiles became very dangerous.  People could not bathe any more in the river.  They could not take water from the river for cooking, drinking and washing.  They had to go away from the kampong.  But the six crocodiles still continued to take revenge for their brother's death.  They went everywhere seeking the great-great-grandchildren of the man who had killed their brother.  And even now, the crocodiles catch and eat people.

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