Si Kabayan and his wife went to Mount Gede for praying and fasting and meditating, so that their wish to become rich might be granted them. One day, in the midst of their meditations, a god appeared to them

“Kabayan,” said the god. “I granted you two wishes. But only two. You had better talk it over with your wife before you make them.”

Kabayan and his wife had a lengthy discussion about what they should wish for. It had simply impossible for them to agree. Kabayan wanted to wish for a great amount of money, but his wife thought they should wish for abundant supply of rice. Finally Kabayan become so annoyed with his wife that he said, “I wish the gods would turn you into a monkey !”

Immediately Kabayan’s wish was granted, and he saw his wife transformed into a monkey before his very eyes. This is he could not bear, and so he wished that his wife would become herself again. His wish was promptly granted.

But these two wishes Kabayan’s chance to ask for wealth was gone, and he and his wife remained poor as long as they lived. ***


Si Kabayan was so deeply in debt to an Arab usurer that it made him giddy even to think of it. How could he ever pay his debts when he no longer possessed a single thing that he could sell to obtain even a part of the amount he owed? He thought and thought, and at long last he hit upon a plan.

“Finally !” he said to his wife. “Now I know what to do !”

His wife agreed to his proposal, in fact welcomed it with great enthusiasm, and proceeded to help him carry it out. First she filled a washtub with palm wine and spread kapok all over the floor next to the tub. Si Kabayan bathed in the wine, and rolled his wet body around and around in the kapok until he was white an furry all over. Then he crawled into a large chicken coop.

Shortly afterwards the Arab came to Si Kabayan’s house to claim his due.

“Kabayan is not at home,” said his wife to the Arab.

“Where is he ?” asked the Arab.

“He’s gone to appear before the King.”

“The King ?” asked the Arab in great astonishment. “What has happened ?”

“He’s gone to report to the King that he has found and caught a very rare bird.”

“A rare bird ? What kind of bird?” The Arab indicated his desire to see the strange bird, but Si Kabayan’s wife refused. Kabayan was going to present this rare and wonderful specimen to the King, and if she let the Arab see it, she said, Kabayan would be very angry, because Kabayan had said specifically that no one else was to see the bird before the King himself.

This explanation merely increased the Arab’s desire to see Kabayan’s bird, and he prevailed upon Si Kabayan’s wife to show it to him.

Allowing herself to be persuaded, Kabayan’s wife took the Arab to the back of the house, where she pointed to a chicken coop covered with a piece of the cloth. Full of curiosity, the Arab lifted the edge of the cloth. As he raised it a little higher, Si Kabayan burst out of the cage, and crying ” ba-ra-ka-tak-tak; ba-ra-ka-tak-tak”, he ran out of sight.

Si Kabayan’s wife began to weep. “Oh, oh,” she sobbed. “Look what you’ve done! What will I tell Kabayan, and what will the King say. I’ll have to tell him that it’s all your fault that his bird got away. And then Kabayan will have to tell the King. Oh, oh!”

The Arab was frightened.

“Please don’t,” he pleaded. “Please don’t tell Kabayan and the King .”

And the exchange for her promise not to tell Kabayan, he cancelled all Kabayan’s debt. ***


Si Kabayan had been ordered by his father-in-law to collect the ripe corn from the garden and bring it in to the house. Too lazy to carry so many ears of corn himself, he tied them together and hung them on a bamboo pole which he slung across the back of his horse.

Then he himself mounted the beast and saw him approaching the house and called. “Kabayan, Kabayan, what in the name of heaven are you doing? Why are you carrying the corn that way, sitting on the horse with the pole over your shoulder?”

“Ah, Pa,” replied Kabayan, “otherwise it would be too heavy for my horse.” ***


It seemed to Si Kabayan that he had not anything really good to eat for a long time. He even had visions of a delicious chicken, aromatic in thick coconut sauce. One day he had an idea. He knew that his father-in-law always served the most excellent food if a haji paid him a visit, so he disguised himself as a haji, white robe, white fez, and flowing white scarf, and went to his father-in-law’s home.

As soon as si Kabayan’s father-in-law saw that he had a haji as guest he told his wife to prepare a chicken. Si Kabayan ate heartily of his father-in-law’s fare and after the meal revealed his identity. His father-in-law was very angry and decide to take revenge.

One afternoon he dressed himself up as a haji and went to Si Kabayan’s house. Si Kabayan called his wife.

“We have an honored guest, dear. Have our goat slaughtered at once.”

“Goat?!” exclaimed Si Kabayan’s wife. “Where do you expect me to get a goat? We haven’t so much as goat’s tail about the place !”

“Aren’t you ashamed talking such nonsense!” reproached Si Kabayan. “Just slaughter your father’s goat. It’s tied right in back of our house.”

Hearing Kabayan’s words, his guest the Haji said quickly. “No, no, Kabayan. That’s the only goat I own.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry,” said Kabayan. “I thought you were a guest from Southern Arabia.” ***


For a long time Si Kabayan and his father-in-law had entertained the idea of making a deer trap, but nothing had ever come of their intention. One day Kabayan called his father-in-law.

“Come, Pa,” he said. “Let’s dig a ditch. A deer is sure to fall into it, and then we’ll slaughter it together.”

“No,” replied Kabayan’s father-in-law. “You dig the ditch, Kabayan. I’d rather snare a bird.”

“Good,” said Kabayan. ” But when I catch my deer, I won’t give you any part of it.”

“Never mind,” replied the father-in-law. “When I snare my bird, you get no part of it either.”

The next very morning, very, very early. Kabayan’s father-in-law went outside to have a look at the trap he had set up. It was just as he had left it the night before. He walked over to Kabayan’s trap and there he saw a fine, large deer. He looked about him stealthily and seeing no one, he tied a rope around the deer’s neck, which he then fastened to his own trap. He quickly returned to the house and called his son-in-law.

“Kabayan, Kabayan, wake up!” he shoued. “Let’s go out and see whether there’s anything in our traps.”

Kabayan yawned and streched and joined his father-in-law.

“Alhamdullillah ! The Lord be praised!” exclaimed Kabayan’s father-in-law. “Look at that!” He pointed to the deer in his trap.

Si Kabayan walked away without saying a word.

A little later, when Si Kabayan’s wife called her father and husband for breakfast Kabayan did not appear. Kabayan’s wife was worried. “Where is he?” she asked her father. They waited , but he did not come. Kabayan’s wife began to cry.

“He’s been eaten by a tiger,” she sobbed, “or choked by a devil in the forest – or kidnapped!”

Her father tried to console her and said he would go out immediately to search for Kabayan.

It was not long before he found him, sitting by the bank of a river in an attitude of meditation, watching the water flow by.

“Kabayan!” called his father-in-law. “What are you doing ? Why didn’t you come to breakfast?”

“Look, Pa!” said Kabayan, glancing up at his father-in-law, but leaving his question unanswered. “Look at this water. If this isn’t strangest thing ……!”

“What is the matter?”

“Just look! The river is flowing upstream !”

“Ah, Kabayan, it is impossible, Kabayan! Water doesn’t flow upstream. It has to flow downstream!”

“Why does it have to?” said Kabayan, “if a deer can be caught in a bird snare?”

Kabayan father-in-law looked very sheepish. He admitted that he had deceived Kabayan and he returned the deer to his son-in-law. But Kabayan took revenge, and when the deer was slaughtered his father-in-law got nothing but its bones. ***

6. Kabayan Plants a Banana

One day Kabayan was digging a hole when Silah happened to come along.

Silah        : Why are you digging that hole?
Kabayan   : To plant a banana tree
Silah        : Why are you planting a banana tree?
Kabayan   : So I can eat the fruit.
Silah        : Why do you eat the fruit?
Kabayan   : So I can get energy.
Silah        : Why do you want energy?
Kabayan   : So I can dig the hole.***

7. Funny Si Kabayan

Long ago, in Indonesia, Si Kabayan loved to play with words. Once, his father-in-law said, “Sing me a song.”

So Si Kanayan droned,  “Sa-ri sa-r sari-”

“That’s no good,”moaned his father-in-law. “I want something gentle on the ears.”

“Try chicken feathers.” Said Si Kabayan.

“Forget singing then, you fool,” said his father-in-law. “Tell me a story

“Something long?” asked Si Kabayan.


“A road.”

“You useless fellow!” roared his father-in-law.

Something short, then?asked Si Kabayan.


“An ant,” grinned Si Kabayan.   And that was the last time that his father-in-law asked him to do anything at all, which made Si Kabayan very very glad!***


2 thoughts on “SI KABAYAN

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