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Kumang and the Dragon - In Sarawak long ago, there was a beautiful girl called Kumang. She was very hard-working and use to fish from morning to night. One day, although it was nearly time to go home, she had still caught no fish. She tried once more. When she pulled up her net, she found there was a tiny snake in it. It looked so helpless that she decided to take it home with her. She placed it in a jar in the kitchen. Every day she gave it something to eat. As the weeks passed, the tiny snake grew into a large snake. Finally it changed into a dragon. As it was no longer possible to keep it in the jar, Kumang allowed to live in the house.

“Why do you eat so much? Asked Kumang. The dragon did not answer but only breathed fire from its mouth. “I’ve sold everything to buy food for you.” This was true. Kumang had sold all the valuable old Chinese jars which she kept in the house, as well as jewelry, clothes, and furniture. She had nothing left to sell. She wondered how she would be able to buy the dragon any more food.

Suddenly the dragon spoke, Kumang sat up. She had never heard the dragon speak before… “How big is your heart?” she thought it was a strange question. “It is only the size of a small leaf,” she answered. The next day, the dragon asked her the same question and received the same reply.

“I’ sorry,” the dragon said. “I haven’t had anything to eat for several days. I cannot wait any longer, I am so hungry. I must eat your heart.”

Kumang almost fainted. She lived alone. She did not know what to do. “Well” she said, “if you want to eat my heart, I shall have to give it to you. But first, please look for a piece of hollow bamboo. Then place my heart in it together with some rice and cook it over a fire. It will taste much better like that.”

As soon the dragon had left the house, Kumang said to her dog, “When the dragon returns, tell him I have gone out for a walk and won’t be back for an hour or so.”

She ran into the neighbouring rubber estate owned by her friend Danjal. She quickly climbed the tallest tree she could find. She sat on the highest branch and poured a bottle of cooking oil down the trunk of the tree.

Not long afterward, the dragon returned home with the bamboo. He had been running and was out of breath. He was angry when he heard what Kumang’s dog said. However, he soon followed Kumang’s footprints to the tall tree where she was hiding. He tried to climb the tree but it was too slippery. He decided to wait at the bottom of the tree. “she can’t stay up there for ever,” he thought.

Just a bout that time, Danjal’s friend Juara visited the estate. He heard a small voice calling out to him from the top of a tree. “Please tell Danjal to set fire to the estate. The trees are old and dry. Next year he can plant some young trees.”

Then he heard another sound, much deeper and very fierce, “don’t do anything of the sort. If Danjal sets fire to the trees, he’ll cause himself a lot of trouble and lose all his money.”

Juara was frightened. He had never heard voices like these before. One sounded like a fairy’s and the other like an evil spirit’s.

He ran to Danjal’s house. “What’s wrong?” asked Danjal. “You look as if you have seen a ghost.” Juara told him what had happened.

“If a fairy has asked me to burn down the old trees, I’m sure there must be a good reason. I always obey what fairies tell me.”

So they set fire to the trees. When they walked round the estate the next day, there were only burnt and blackened tree trunks to be seen. They became tired and sat down to rest on one of the tree trunks. Danjal took out his jungle knife to cut open a coconut he was carrying, as he wanted to drink the coconut juice inside. In doing so, he cut the trunk of the tree. He was surprised to see that some blood started to come out from the cut.

“What’s this?” he called out in fright. They soon found out that it was not a tree trunk at all but the dragon who had died in the fire!

Danjal then saw a strange-looking fruit shining on the top branch of s tree which was still standing. “How strange!” he cried. “A single fruit! I wonder why it was not burnt in the fire?

Juara tried to climb the tree. It was difficult as the tree trunk was covered in oil and very slippery.

At last, they got the fruit and took it home. “I’ve never seen a fruit like this before,” said Danjal. “It’s so soft and pink.”

He placed it on his bed while Juara and he had dinner. While they were eating their dinner, they heard someone singing a sweet song in the bedroom.
They crept in. there was a strange golden light coming from the fruit on the bed. “Close your eyes!” said a small timid voice. “And count to twenty.”

They did as they were told. When they opened their eyes again, the fruit had split into two. And Kumang was sitting on the bed smiling at them.
“Don’t be afraid!” she said. “Let me tell you what happened.”

After she had finished, Danbjal said to her, “You are really very lucky. It must have been a terrible nightmare for you. Anyway, now the wicked dargon is dead and won’t cause you any more trouble. But I don’t think you should live alone again. Why don’t you become my wife and live here with me?”

After a while, Kumang agreed to marry Danjal and they lived together happily even after.

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