ITS–This folktale is very popular in Indonesia. It belongs to Melayu tribe living in Riau Province. As the story goes, in a small village, lived a widow with her two beautiful daughters, Bawang Merah (Red Onion) and Bawang Putih (White Garlic). Bawang Putih’s real father husband died long ago. Bawang Merah and Bawang Putih had opposite characters and personalities. Bawang Putih was a diligent, kind, honest and humble girl. Meanwhile, Bawang merah was a lazy, glamorous, proud and envious girl. Bawang Merah’s bad personality was worsened because her mother had spoiled her.
The widow always gave her everything she wanted. It was Bawang Putih who did all the work in the house:the laundry, cooking, and cleaning. Meanwhile, Bawang Merah and the widow just spent time making themselves pretty, and when they needed something they could just ask Bawang Putih.
Bawang Putih never complained about the bad fate she had to face. She always served her mother and sister happily. One day, Bawang Putih was doing her mother and sister’s laundry in the river and didn’t realize a piece of her mother’s cloth was washed away by the river. How sad was she, thinking that if the cloth couldn’t be found she would be blamed, and it wasn’t impossible that she would be punished and expelled from home.
Being afraid that her mother’s cloth could not be found, Bawang Putih kept looking and walked along the river with its strong current. Every time she saw someone by the river, she always asked him or her about her mother’s cloth, but no one knew where the cloth was. Eventually Bawang Putih came to a place where the river flowed into a cave. Surprisingly, there was a very old woman in the cave. Bawang Putih asked the old woman if she knew of the cloth’s whereabouts. The woman knew where the cloth was, but she made a condition before she handed it to Bawang Putih. The condition was that she had to work assisting the old woman. Bawang Putih was used to working hard so that her work pleased the old woman.
It was late afternoon and Bawang Putih was saying goodbye to the old woman. The woman handed the cloth to her. Because of her kindness, the old woman offered her a gift of pumpkins. There were two; one was larger than the other. Bawang Putih was asked to choose the gift she wanted. She wasn’t greedy, so she chose the smaller one.
Returning home, the Step-Mother and Bawang Merah were furious because Bawang Putih was late. She told them what had happened. Her step-mother was still furious because she was already late and only brought one small pumkin, so the mother smashed the pumpkin to the ground. But it was miraculous that in the pumpkin there were beautiful golden, jewel, and diamond ornaments. The widow and Bawang Merah were very schocked. They could get very rich with that much jewelry. But as greedy as they were, they yelled at Bawang Putih asking why she didn’t take the large pumkin instead. In the Widow and Bawang Merah’s minds, if the larger pumpkin was taken, they should get much more jewelry.
Following their greed, Bawang Merah followed the steps to meet the old woman again. She wilingly drifted her mother’s cloth, walked along the river, asked people and eventually came to the cave where the old woman lived. Unlike Bawang Putih, however, Bawang Merah refused the old woman’s order to work and she even arrogantly ordered the old woman to give her the larger pumpkin. And so the old woman gave it to Bawang Merah.
Bawang Merah happily brought home the pumpkin that the old woman gave, while imagining how much jewelry she would get. Returning home, the widow welcomed her beloved daughter. Before long, the pumpkin was smashed to the ground, but instead of the jewelry, appeared terrifying snakes. The widow and Bawang Merah finally realized what they did all this time was wrong and asked Bawang Putih to forgive them.