Sunday, January 15, 2006


By Allan Dumbong

A strange thing happened
RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE of Keningau District high in the mountains, an pld hunter lived in his little house. He was very proud of his bamboo house and was nevertired of admiring the whiteness of his pandan mats and the pretty bamboo walls, which in warn weather slid back to allow the fraagrance of the trees and wild flowers to come in.
One day, he was standing looking at the mountain opposite his home, when he heard a rumbling noise in the room behind him. He turned around and in the corner he beheld an old jar which could not have seen the light of day for many many years. How the jar got there the old hunter did not know, but he took it up and looked it over carefully, and when he found that it into his kitchen. "That was a piece of luck," said the old hunter, smilling to himself. "A good jar costs money and it is always wel to have second one in case of need. My jar is nearly worn out now, and the water is already beginning to leak trough its bottom."
Then he took the old jar away, filled the new one with water and put it back its place. No sooner was the water filled in the jar, then a strange thing happened, and the old hunter who was standingneardy, thoughthe must be dreaming. First the neck of the jar gradually changed its shape and became a head, and the mouth grew into a tail, while out of the body sprang four paws and within a few minutes, the old hunter found himself watching, not a jar, but a living creature which the people of Keningau called a mangas.
It jumped off the spot and bounded about the room like a monkey, running up the walls and over the celling, till the old hunter wasin an agony lest his pretty room be spoiled. He cried to a neighbour for help, and between them they managed to catch the mangas and shut it up safely in a huge wooden box. Then, quite exhausted, they sat down and decided about what they should do with this troublesome animal. At lenght they agreed that it should be sold, and asked a farmer who was passing by to send them a certain village medicine man called Ragangkabang. When Ragangkabang arrived, the old hunter told him taht he had something which he wished to get rid of, and he lifted the lid off the huge wooden box where he had shut up the mangas.
But to his amazement, the mangas was not there! There was nothing but the jar he had found in the corner. It was certainly very strange, but the old hunter remembered what had taken place inside his kitchen and did not want had the jar in his house anymore. After a little bargaining about the price, Ragaangkabang went awany carring the jar with him.
Now Ragangkabang had not gone very far before he felt teh jar was getting heavier and heavier. By the time he reached home he was so tired that he was thankful to put it down in the corner of his room and then forget all about it. In the middle of the night, howerer, he was awakened by a loud noise in the corner where the jar stood and raised himseft up in bed to see what it was. But nothing was there except the jar, which seemed quiet enough. He throught he must have been dreaming and fell asleep again, onlyto be aroused a second time by the same disturbance.
He jumped up and went to the corner and, by the light of the lamp that he always kept burning, he saw that the jar had become the mangas which was running around after its tail. After it grew weary of taht, the mangas turned several somersaults on the balcony from pure gladness of heart. Ragangkabang was much troubled as to what to do with the creature, and it was almost morning before he opened his eyes, there was no mangas, only the old jar he had left in the corner the night before.
As soon as he had tidied his house, Ragangkabangset off to tell his story to a friend next door. The man listened quietly, and did not appear so surprised as Ragangkabang expceted, for he recollected that as a child, his fahter had mentioned something about a wonder jar. "Go and travel with it and display it," said Ragangkabang's friend, "and you will become a rich man. But be careful first to seek the mangas 's permission. It would be wise also to perform the "Modsurung" (Magical) ceremonies to prevent it from running awany at the sight of the people."
"Sazaw!" (Dance!) said Ragangkabang, and the mangas did its steps, moving first on one side and then on the other, till the people could not stand still any longer and began to dance, too. Gracefully the mangas led a lok dance and without a pause into a spring-floor dance, and it seemed as if it might go on dancing forever. And very likely it would have, if Ragangkabang had not declared that the mangas had danced enough and the booth must be closed.
Day after the booth was so full it was hardly possible to enter it. What the neighbour foretold came to pass, and Ragangkabang the medicine man was rich man. Yet he did not feel happy. He was an honest man and thought some of wealth he owned belonged to the old hunter from whom he had bought the jar.
One morning, he put two hundred gold pieces into the jar and hanging it on his shoulder, he turned to theold hunter who had soldit to him. "I have no right to keep it any longer," he added when he had told his story, "so i Have brought it back to you and inside, you will find two hundred gold pieces I have put there as the price for hiring it."
The old hunter thanked Ragangkabang, saying that very few people would have been as honest. And the magic jar brought them botg luck; everything went so well with them until their dying days.

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