Joko Baru

Folktale from East Java

THERE was a village in East Java. The place' WAS SO beautiful and fertile. People lived happily and peacefully. Trees grew well and their rice fields always gave them lots of rice. They were happy to have lots of food.

More and more people came and stayed in the village. Slowly, the village was so full of people. The head of the village was Adipati Betak. He was so worried that soon the village could not hold enough people. He thought that the village would be so crowded and people could not live comfortably. He was thinking how to flnd a solution. Then he had an idea. In the village there was a big swamp.

"If I could dry the swamp, lots of people can have a new place to live. They can build their houses!" said Adipati Betak to himself. He was extremely happy! He just found a great solution for his crowded place.

Adipati Betak spoke to the all the villagers.

'You all know that our village is getting crowded. I have a solution. Let's dry this swamp and later you can build your houses here," said Adipati Betak to the villagers.

They all were gathered near the swamp and brought all the tools and equipment to dry the swamp.

All the villagers were so happy to hear their leader's plan.

"It was a great idea," they thought. Later, the villagers worked hard to dry the swamp.

The villagers had been working for days, but it seemed the swamp did not dry at all. Every time the swamp was almost dried, slowly water filled it.

What was the problem? There was a well in the bottom of the swamp. The villagers had tried to close it but still, water was flowing slowly. They had even used a very big and solid stone to close the well. Sadly, water was still flowing in the gap.

Adipati Betak made an announcement. "I will promote anyone who can close the well as my deputy!"

Yes, the head of the village had just held a competition and the reward was amazing, to be his deputy. It was a very great job! The reward made more people come and try their luck. Months passed by and still no one could close the well.

Meanwhile, there was a young man named Joko Baru. He lived very far away and he heard about the well and the problem of closing it.

Joko Baru talked to his father. His name was Ki Ageng Mangir. He was a wise man.

"Father, I want to help Adipati Betak and his people to close the well but I don't know how to do it. Would you please tell me how to close the well?" asked Joko Baru politely.

His father smiled. He asked "Do you really want to help or you just want to be his deputy?"

He already heard about the competition and its reward.

"I just want to help, Father. I feel sorry for the people because I heard their village is so crowded. If they can dry the swamp, they can build their houses there," said |oko Baru.

The father knew his son was honest. Then he told him how to close the well.

"Use the leaves ofsugar palm tree to close the well," said Ki Ageng Magir.

]oko Baru was so grateful. He said thank you to his father then left to help close the well.

When he arrived, Adipati Betakwas not sure that ]oko Baru could close the well. However he still gave him the chance.

Slowly, ]oko Baru closed the well with the leaves of sugar palm tree. Everybody was watching carefully. It worked! Water did not flow at all. The swamp was dried! Everybody cheered Joko Baru. They all were delighted to have a new place to live.

Though Joko Baru was not interested to be the deputy Adipati Betak still forced him. He wanted to keep his promise. Besides that, all the villagers also asked Joko Baru to accept the reward, it was to be the deputy. |oko Baru finally accepted to be the deputy. When Adipati Betak was old, he asked Joko Baru to replace him. |oko Baru became the new leader. He led wisely. ***

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