The Weary Old Tree by villbeejay

Standing tall, proud and young was
a healthy Ironman tree; Belian is
its name. Overlooking the village, it
acted as a guard, protecting villagers from
unseen predators. Feeling tough and
mighty, it stood there long enough to
be home to flora and fauna.

‘Peace and quiet,’ said
Belian. It grew ever so slightly over
time, yet the peace of the village remains.

Alas, when Belian assumed peace was
forever, loud shouts were heard from the
outside. It stretched its vine to see
if the villagers were alright, and was disappointed to witness
such horrible decisions.

Belian gradually began to grow ill, as the Sun
seemed to enjoy the cruel life the villagers chose
to live. Draught came, and all Belian could
think of was, ‘Could this possibly be the end?’

Like a miracle, such higher beings exist;
down came the rain – with two charming
princesses! They descended, and they overcame
the wicked ways of men. Santubong; the
princess who contributed to weaving,
and Sejinjang, the other who conquered the
skill of rice pounding.

‘Finally, some peace
and quiet,’ Belian sighed in relief. Two
princesses of the same blood, chosen by
the King to resurrect the peace that was slayed
by men of the village. Together they worked,
played and ruled. Together they protected, cared
and were true.

But then came a day, Belian seemed to have
lost some words to say. Sejinjang fell
deep into her greed, letting envy consume
the deepest, darkest part of herself. Belian
tried to calm her down, to make her grasp
the consequences of her actions.

‘You are nothing but a tree, Belian. We brought
peace to the village, but the people decided to
hail Santubong, and Santubong only.’

Sejinjang wept at her fate – of being unable to be the finest.
Belian comforted her, but comfort was not what
she sought. Sejinjang was determined to act, to execute
Santubong in exchange for the best.

‘O King of the celestial heavens, here I beg
for the reconciliation of your princesses.
I cherish the peace and hard work
they have achieved, but not of their dire
disputes of fame and beauty.’

Belian stretched its vine out to the gloomy sky,
hoping that the King would hear its cry.

With rage and dissatisfaction, the King
descended from the heavens, and cursed both
of his dear offspring into mountains. The
villagers cried for such tragedy, but Belian could
only stand still while letting the breeze rustles
through its leaves.

The story of the legendary princesses went on
from generations to generation. Still standing
firm in its foundation – the living
proof of such situation, is Belian – the weary
old tree.

BIO: villbeejay is a full-time student who is currently pursuing her Bachelor Degree in English Language Studies. She is part of an indigenous group from Borneo and she is inspired to continue improving her writing skills. She also enjoys writing one-shots, fanfictions, and song lyrics whenever inspiration strikes.

Of the poem, villbeejay says, “Putting this little twist on the famous Borneon folklore is such a fun thing to do! The Belian tree is one of the strongest and long living trees in Borneo, therefore I thought to myself, “What if Belian was there when this incident happens? How would it tell the story from its point of view?” and voila, the poem was made. I genuinely had fun writing this, and I hope I can create something of the similar theme in the future.”

You may read Editorial Assistant Rebekah Siah Anggappan’s interview with villbeejay here.

Truancy 8, July 2020