The Taunbird and the Ngulngulbird

(read: Ngoolngool-bird)

A story from Minahasa**)
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Many centuries ago all animals lived freely. They were very happy living in the universe. They were free of fright. They could go anyplace. On land,in the sea or in the air they could move safely. This was possible because their meat, their skin, or any part of their body was not taken for food, cladding or any decoration. They were just there for the enjoyment of beauty of nature to man. They felt protected by man and felt they were undestroyable

Among the many animals which were flying in the open air and blue skies were the taunbird and the bayanbird. The taunbird had a big black body. His wings were of black and white feathers. His tail was long. His beak was striped according to his age. His voice was loud but rather hoarse. On the other hand the bayanbird was small, had beautifull grey feathers. His upper beak was like a hat and hat a small crown on it. He had a beautiful voice, although it was not very loud.

Both birds were friends. They flew around in the forest, above the highlands and marshes. They used to squat in each others neighbourhood, they flew around and seek for food together. It was very nice to see them living that way.

One day they were again flying around across the blue skies viisiting big and small trees. They want to enjoy the beautiful green plants the reddish ones, the yellowish ones and also the beautifullly colored flowers. Dueing theit flight they were just singing their songs in different tones and rythms. How beautiful is the universe !

After flying a long way they finally squatted down in a tree. This was a beutifully grown tree with many green leaves. The name of the tree was the beringin tree. The taunbird asked the Bayanbird, "May I borrow your hat? Actually since a long time I have wished to have your crown hat. But each time that I want to ask you this question I feel a little ashamed. I will only borrow your hat for one day, and tomorrow I give it back to you."

"Where will you go, then?" asked the bayanbird.

"Oh, I just want to fly around a bit," answered the taunbird.

"If that is the case, I will agree with your request. Put your head closer," said the bayanbird. He pulled his crown off his head and adhered it neatly onthe head of the taunbird.

"Yes it looks good now," said the bayanbird, "you are sure very goodlooking now."

Suddenly the taunbird clapsed his wings and flew away. The bayanbird was left alone in the tree. A slight feeling of distrust came up on him. "Could it be possible that I am cheated by the taunbird ? No, of course not! Haven't we been good friends for a very long time?." However an uneasy feeling kept creeping into his heart.

Two days have passed, and the taunbird didnot return yet. This made the bayanbird very sad. And he couldnot help breaking into tears.

"Nguul .... nguul, nguul. Uuu! Uuu, my hat!" cried the bayanbird.

At last he saw no other way as to go to the the old wise man of the forest to report about the cause of his sadness. His head without a crown, the bayanbird flew deep into the forest, where the wise man was living. He saw many snakes creeping in the trees The bayanbird thought that because he was very able in flying, there surely would be no snake which would bite him. Among the snakes there were some which are very poisenous, but many others were not. In general the snakes move through contracting the muscles adjacent on both sides of his spine in turn and this causes that his body moves wavelike.

After flying a long way he came to the place where the old man was living. He reported everything which had happened to him. The old forest wise man was very angry about what the taunbird has done. Then , the taunbird was called upon by the old wise man of the forest. He instructed the naughty small kleakbird which is white or green coloured to go and call the taunbird. The kleakbird was not only naughty but also very noisy. He enjoyed very much to eat papaya or bananas.

Thus, flying around he sung, "Eak, eak, eak ...." After a while he arrived at the place of the taunbird.

The kleakbird said, "Hello, my friend, I am coming here to inform you that the old wise man of the forest calls you. You have to come now, and this may not be postponed."

The taun bird flew together with the kleakbird. When both arrived in front of the old wise man, the man asked, "Where is the crown of the bayanbird which you borrowed a few days ago?"

Pointing at the crown on his head he answered : "Here it is, dear old man, but it can not be removed anymore because it has already grown onto my beak. If it has to be removed by force, I will die." Various reasons did he bring forward, just to keep the crown.

The wise old man said, "We will leave the crown with you, but you must know that this is a most digustable thing what you have done. You cheated the bayanbird. He lend it to you hoping that you would return it, but you lied to him. The bayanbird is very sad for what you have done. The good deed which the bayan bird has done to you you returned with treason. Any loan should be returned."

The taunbird could only nod his head and say, "Forgive me old man, please forgive me. And also forgive me bayanbird. I will await and accept any decision which the old wise man will make. Actually I am also sad and regret it, but the crown can not be removed anymore now. I will await your decision, old man."

Then the old wise man said, "This crown we will leave to the taunbird because it is not suitable anymore for the bayanbird."

Upon hearing that the bayanbird started to cry heartbreakingly.

"Do not cry, bayan bird. Although you are not so beautiful anymore, we still respect you because of your good heart. And because you keep on crying, ngul ..,ngul ...,from now on we call you Ngulngul," said the old wise man. Then he said to the taunbird, "And you, taunbird, you are indeed more beautiful now, but you are an imposter, and you only thik of your own self, therefore I give you the name Koak."

*)Translated by Manda Ratulangi from "Burung Taun dan Burung Ngulngul", from the book "Cerita Rakyat dari Minahasa" by Aneke Sumarauw Pangkerego, published by Penerbit PT Grasindo, Jakarta, 1993

**)The Minahasa is the most northern part of Sulawesi (the Celebes island).