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Genie Tales 1 - Mayang Sari

Updated on July 22, 2017

I am sure we’ve all read or at least heard of the Arabian Nights and to come degree or extent outside theological sources it is where most of us first come across this magical creature called the genie with the ability to grant boons and fulfil wishes. Most of us would have at some time or other wished that we had a genie on our side.

Religious canons and principles forbid us from consorting with the genie because any association with the genie will eventually, even if there are initial gains, bring about a turn of bad luck.

Tales of genies are not limited to the middle east and there are many myths and legends involving the genie that have become ingrained in the east.

Across the Straits of Malacca, in the Isle of Sumatra, in the eastern province of Riau, there is a legend called the legend of the seven princesses. According to folklore, the kingdom was once ruled by a queen who was gifted with seven beautiful daughters. The princesses were so pretty that all the other women in the kingdom paled in comparison to them.

The prettiest of the seven princesses was the queen’s last daughter. Her name was Mayang Sari, but she was more commonly known as Mayang Mengurai. One day, while the princesses were frolicking in the waters of a nearby river, they were spotted by a young prince called Pangeran Empang Kuala and his guards.

The prince and his companions, hid behind the bushes, unseen by the princesses and discreetly spied on the ladies, as they continued to bathe in the cool crisp waters of the river. The prince was taken in by the lovely Mayang Sari and a few days later the prince sent a courier bearing the gift of courtship to the princess. The gift was accepted by the young princess in the proper manner and in accordance with tradition.

The princess then replied with a gift of her own, acknowledging the gift of the prince but insisted that the eldest princess, her sister, was the first in line and that the prince’s proposal should be directed at her.

The prince’s courier returned to inform the prince that his offer had been indirectly spurned and the angry prince immediately ordered his generals to invade the queen’s kingdom.

The two opposing armies met on the shores of the Straits of Malacca and the queen’s armies were soon overwhelmed. The war continued for four months. Towards the end of the fourth month the queen’s army crumbled under insurmountable pressure and was on the verge of defeat.

The distraught queen fled into the jungle with her seven daughters and hid them in a large crater, covering the opening with leaves before returning to the scene of the battle.

Not wanting to surrender, the queen sought the help of a genie who was known to meditate on top of an isolated hill at the foot of a mangrove tree. She approached the genie for help and it agreed to help her.

That night, dark clouds shrouded the moon and the battle ground was covered in desolate darkness. The flames of fires and wickers that normally lit the tents were put to rest by a sudden unexpected wind.

An eerie silence filled the air, followed by the piercing sound of a mangrove fruit falling from the sky, landing smack in the middle of the enemy encampment.

The fruit shattered into a million bits and when fragments from the fruit touched the skin of the soldiers it seeped into the pores of their skin and released a dreadful toxin that precipitated instant death.

The prince was defeated in the space of a single night. Seeing the fortunes of war turn in her favor, the queen sent an emissary to the distraught prince to try and persuade him to return immediately to his kingdom.

The prince, his army decimated by the attack, conceded defeat and having thought things over, acknowledged that it was his own misdoing that had brought about the demise of his army and woefully returned to his kingdom. News of his departure was soon delivered to the queen.

Elated the queen rushed to the forest where she had left her seven daughters only to discover that the princesses had died from thirst and hunger. Shortly after the queen fell ill and she too followed in the footsteps of her daughters. The genie while it had granted the queen victory had claimed her life and the lives of her seven daughters.

© 2016 Kathiresan Ramachanderam and Dyarne Jessica Ward

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