Creative Writings Flash Fiction

Sungu and His Given Tasks Part. 1



The story I am about to tell you is a tale of tragedy. 

A wise man once said that there is a thin line between loving and obsessing over someone. To this day, we still can’t figure out the difference between the two. I have seen too many people become insane because of love. A pure white-as-milk love became tainted with an obscure purple-as-Hyacinthus obsession.

How do you know if your love is pure or not? Unfortunately, I don’t have an accurate answer to that question. But, I think we could learn one or two things from Sungu’s story as he tried to prove how strong and deep his love was by doing tasks given by two mighty deities.


Once upon a time, in a faraway land called Batu Atos, lived a farmer named Sungu. Sungu lived alone in his poorly-made shack. He remained celibate even though he was about to hit 30. He might not be as handsome as a raden, but he knew his rugged looks wooed a few women a handful of times. He never spared a glance at those women because he wasn’t interested in any of them. The only thing they wanted was a quick fling. He wanted the real deal; true and everlasting love with a woman he truly adores.

Sungu stood barefoot in the muddy paddy field in the middle of the night, carrying a small bucket alongside him. The cold night air didn’t stop his courage to collect eels for tomorrow’s breakfast. Beneath his wet feet, he could feel the silver coins that were thrown by people who still believed in the tradition of throwing coins into the rice field to make their wishes come true.

Batu Atos was an old, small, and remote land. Traditions and myths were still going strong even if the land was already a thousand years old. The people who lived there believed in gods—deities who ruled over the earth, gods and goddesses who resided in the vast skies, spirits living in bodies of water, and many other powerful supernatural beings residing in the expanse of nature. A source told me that the land used to sink eons ago. But because of the goddess of the sea’s powerful rage that wrecked the ocean worldwide, the land resurfaced again. Another one was about a man who got abducted, never to be seen again, by the God of Boar because he tried to marry one of the sacred seven female boars.

Sungu was not a religious man, but he still attended a weekly prayer at the Nyi Ketan Ireng’s temple near the volcanic mount of Jengger once in a while. After all, he didn’t want the other neighbors to think poorly of him. It didn’t mean that he started to believe in deities and myths. That was about to change when a beautiful woman came into his life. Her name was Mangga Ranum. 

One day, while working with the other farmers, he heard the news about a beautiful great-granddaughter of a high-caste family from another land. She was to accompany her raden brother for a diplomatic matter at Batu Atos. What Sungu did not expect was how he fell in love with Mangga Ranum in such a religious place, which was ironic since he was not a religious person. 

He met her during the weekly prayer at Nyi Ketan Ireng’s temple. Her hair, darker than the midnight sky, was styled in a tight bun framed with a hair net made of jasmine flowers. She wore a traditional kemben, revealing her tan-as-longkong skin. Mangga Ranum’s beauty was otherworldly. Sungu even believed the volcano lava would never be as warm as Mangga Ranum’s smile. He knew every man in the temple also had the same thought as him. It was disrespectful of him to think of a woman that way in a sacred place, but he couldn’t help but admire her. He was only a man, after all.

The thought of Mangga Ranum’s beauty occupied his mind and dreams all the time after that day.

Sungu threw the last of the eels into the bucket. Inside, the eels were squirming around. He had to kill and clean the eels tonight, but his mind was distracted. The full moon above reminds him of Mangga Ranum’s round cheeks as she smiled the other day. He was sure his meeting with Mangga Ranum in a sacred place must had meant something. This was the time when Sungu started to have faith in deities.  He might be a peasant, but he knew he could win the heart of Mangga Ranum to get the perfect love he always dreamed of.

Sungu carried his legs through the muddy rice field. He started to run, but his slippery legs couldn’t support him. The bucket, full of eels that he tried to catch all night, scattered on the ground, squirming away as he fell. Sungu didn’t care. He stood and got back on running towards his shack.

He scrubbed the mud off of his body with clean water. He wore his best white clothes, even fancier than the ones he usually used for the weekly prayer. His kitchen didn’t have many foods, but he had a bunch of bananas and ripe mangos. Then, he went to his small shed to get a sack full of the best rice he had harvested. Plates, bowls, and four remaining candles he had left were placed inside his satchel.

In the small temple near his shack, he began to place the offerings on the plates and bowls. With the rice, Sungu started to draw a circle while chanting one or two traditional prayer songs he remembered. He set down the candles near the bananas and mangos as the final preparations.

As he knelt, he lifted his arms and said, “Hear me out, O mighty Mother Earth and thunderous Father of the Sky! One day the girl I love will love me back and we will live happily ever after!”

The earth grumbled and began to crack. Sungu winced as the temple’s roof began to fall upon his head. The Mountain spat out little bits of its molten lava. The trees seemed to move their roots. Up in the sky, the sky darkened. The clouds gathered around the temple, casting an enormous shadow over the temple. The rumbling of thunder shook the place. The strong winds flicked off the candles and knocked them down. Sungu screamed out loud as lightning struck down, almost blinding him.

When he opened his eyes, there stood in front of him were Mother Earth and the Father of the Sky themselves. His mouth gaped in reverence at the sight of the two deities. Around him, things that were flung across because of the winds were magically put back in place. Even the rice circle looked as if it was untouched.

Sungu hurriedly stood up and corrected himself. He knelt immediately before them, “

Please forgive your humble servant for this act of treason, O ruler of the sky, earth, and everything between,” he said.

The sky became thunderous when the Father of Sky began to talk,“Fear not, dear child. We are here because of your prayer.”

“We are interested in your tonight’s prayer.” The voice of Mother Earth reminded Sungu of a bird’s melodious chirp at the peak of dawn. “Love is an interesting thing, is it not?” she winked.

Sungu could only nod his head. His head was still working on the fact the most powerful deities had heard his prayer and stood before him. The Mother of Earth’s long-winded dark hair swept the floor and was frazzled like a tree’s roots. Right beside her, the night sky seemed to paint the Father of Sky. His grey beard seemed to move like clouds, swaying in a hypnotizing manner.

“I apologize for my inappropriateness again, but why are you here, O Mother Earth and Father of the Skies?” Sungu asked.

“We are here to grant your wish, dear child!” the Father of Sky boomed.

“Only if you’re willing to do the tasks we will give to you,” Mother Earth added, “Everyone deserves a chance to fall in love, don’t you agree?”

That caught Sungu’s attention, of course. Maybe there were reasons why Mother Earth and the Father of the Skies heard his prayer. Why would they listen to a poor low-caste farmer like him anyway, if they didn’t think of him as someone worthy of love? He nodded his head enthusiastically, “Without a doubt, I will do anything you ask of me. For my love, I shall do whatever it takes.”

Sungu’s fate was sealed that night. What a poor unfortunate soul.

To be continued.


Writer: Kenar Syalaisha Kanayana

Editor: Nanda Pratama Putera Tomasila & Vonna Meisya Saputra

Illustrator: Kenar Syalaisha Kanayan

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