Tuesday, June 19, 2007

THE STORY OF SI ULUBALANG SOBA

In the Urat region of Pulau Samosir, Tuan Sipallat 1) lived happily with his wife from the Manurung clan, which held sway over the Sibisa highlands on the west side of Lake Toba at the foot of Mt Simanukmanuk. Tuan Sipallat was the third son of Ompu Tuan Situmorang, a personal name that later became the marga name of his descendants. Tuan Sipallat lived in the village of Suhut ni Huta.

At one point war broke out with a neighboring marga. Tuan Sipallat invited his six brothers 2) to lead their group against the enemy. But not a single one of the brothers stirred himself to advance to the battlefield.

Tuan Sipallat alone faced the enemy. He lost the fight, was captured and his head was severed and buried by his enemies at the foundation stone of the steps to the house of the head of the triumphant lineage. Si Boru Sodalahi, his widow, not long afterwards caused a commotion in the state with actions that contravened the customary law and status of the marga and brought disgrace on her people. She fell in love with the head of the lineage (suku) who had decapitated her beloved, and then married him.

To defeat in battle was added this second shame. The marga united and prepared to await the right time to redeem its honor.

Si Boru Sangkar Sodalahi dearly loved her new husband. Daily she carried on with her weaving, more industriously than usual, making ever more beautiful ritual cloths [ulos or blessing shawls]. She had her husband help prepare the rarest dyes from the natural products of the surrounding area, to the point that he too was busy far into the night, working for love of this pretty woman, the former wife of his enemy. When at night he was tired, he stretched out on her lap to receive her caresses and gentle blandishments as his reward. One night he was invited by his wife to rest his head on her lap and enjoy the tender touch of her soft hand. He then slept soundly.

His wife said: "Are you asleep already, my love? You seem so tired that there is no chance for you to talk to me," while she stroked her husband's hair with her hand. Her husband snored—Si Boru Sangkar Sodalahi touched his neck with natural desire. She turned her head while reaching for something under the sleeping mat. The village was quiet. In the dim glow of the lamp, Si Boru Sangkar Sodalahi took an unsheathed sword from under the mat. The glow bounced off the blade of the sharp sword. Si Boru Sangkar Sodalahi raised the sword, observing her husband's neck intently. As quick as lightning, the sword swung, cleanly cutting the lineage leader's neck.
The head was detached, blood gushed red in all directions. Si Boru Sangkar Sodalahi then stood, lifting a blessing shawl with the "pattern of life" design from the heirloom chest. While unfolding the wide, beautiful cloth, she looked at the severed head lying there. Then with quick steps she left the house and went into the darkness.

From under the stone at the base of the stairs, she dug up the skull buried there, the skull of her first husband. While reciting a prayer, she wrapped the skull in the blessing shawl in her hand, then slung it over her shoulder. She also wept silently. She then reentered the house, got a piece of matting and some string. She wrapped the head of her second husband in the mat. Quickly she went out in the direction of Suhut ni Huta, the home of her first husband's marga, that had called down a curse upon her.

On arriving at Suhut ni Huta, she knocked on the gate of the village pallisade. The watchmen awoke and lit a torch, puzzled at who could be traveling so late at night and what that traveler's intentions might be. Si Boru Sangkar Sodalahi lifted her face, making herself known without a word, in the light of the torch.

All at once the two watchmen screamed, their surprise mixed with anger: "How do you dare to show your face here, accursed woman? It is not enough that you prostitute yourself? And throw disgrace on us? Go away, before we kill you, although the law of war forbids the murder of a woman!"

Si Boru Sangkar Sodalahi calmly listened to all this abuse, then said: "I have come to bring you something!"
They answered: "We do not need anything from you. Wait, until we come to your place to get what we need—your head and that of your husband!"
Si Boru Sangkar Sodalahi said: "I am only a woman. Open the gate, let me come in. I carry something that I wish to deliver that is most important for you. When I have given it to you, do what you want with me. I must and will speak with the marga tonight, to hand over something of great value to your descendants! Don't be afraid! As you see, I am alone and I will not leave before I am permitted to enter, even if I must wait until morning when you will no longer be able to deny me entrance! So why not now?"

The watchmen awakened the adat chief (wali-adat), to confer. It was decided to permit the woman to enter and deliver what she carried. The gate was opened for Si Boru Sangkar Sodalahi. She was taken to the adat house where men were waiting and a torch had been lighted.

On arriving there, she was invited to convey the matter [to the marga]. While standing, Si Boru Sangkar Sodalahi said: "Tonight I bring back your ancestor, returned home to this house, to discharge the moral obligation that fell upon all your heads!"

She then removed the [cloth] sling and displayed the skull of her ex-husband to those present, saying: "This is the revered, whose honor I have redeemed!" Then—while opening the [matting] package that she had laid down—"Witness now the ransom that I bring to you, the token of my inner sincerity concerning all my transgressions against the souls of the ancestors. You are now witnesses whether I am a traitor or a wife loyal unto death! Witness who has taken revenge on your behalf."

Those present were incapable of answering her, moved to tears as they looked at Si Boru Sangkar Sodalahi, and at the skull on top of the blessing shawl.

The adat chief finally said: "Surely you have given certain proof of your loyalty! You have redeemed our honor and your own. Tell us, what is it that you want us to do?"

Si Boru Sangkar Sodalahi said: "There is nothing that I want for myself alone, because whatever happens it is not proper that I be forgiven. I have only one request—for the sake of the law of life—the law of our ancestors—I ask that the child in my womb be accepted by the marga and be treated after it is born as its own child. This is my sole wish, so that I may follow my own destiny. So that your heart is at peace and the vengeance and hatred are erased for ever!"

Hearing this the adat chief said: "Forgive us all! You are truly brave, a woman with a hero's soul. Stay with the margal From now on, your place in the marga is restored! From now on, you are truly our hero for all ages. We welcome you again to the marga's circle, witnessed by the Great Creator and the departed spirits of the ancestors, and I declare that truly, we will accept the child that you carry in your womb, whether male or female, as our own flesh and blood because it is the fruit of the whispering of the spirits of our ancestors.

Not long afterwards an adat ceremony was performed to proclaim and confirm the binding nature of this declaration. Si Boru Sangkar Sodalahi gave birth to a son. The child was given the name Si Marsaitan.

Si Boru Sangkar Sodalahi, noted in the genealogy as a principal ancestor, with the title Si Ulubalang Soba, occupies the highest place among the eternally-living gods, and continues to regulate the fate of her descendants in this middle world forever.

(As told by Sitor Situmorang 3) in Sitor Situmorang Poet of Lake Toba, translator A.L. Reber)
Footnote:
1) Tuan Sipallat the original name of Situmorang Suhut Nihuta
2) The other six brothers of Suhut Nihuta are:
  1. Situmorang Lumbanpande,
  2. Situmorang Lumban Nahor,
  3. Situmorang Tuan Ringo (Siringoringo),
  4. Sitohang Darimangambat,
  5. Sitohang Raja Itubungnga,
  6. Sitohang Ompu Bonanionan.
3) Sitor Situmorang, a renowned poet from Harianboho Samosir, is 12th generation of Simarsaitan.

4 comments:

Togap Siagian said...

Saya senang sekali membaca sekeping sejarah Batak ini. Saya berharap bisa menemukan keping-keping lainnya.

Par Bintan said...

@ Togap Siagian

Terimakasih lae. Ini lebih tepat disebut keping sejarah marga Situmorang.

Saya yakin masih banyak kisah-kisah menarik dari marga-marga batak lainnya, tetapi jarang yang mau menggali dan menuliskannya seperti yang dilakukan Sitor Situmorang ini.

Semoga ada lembaga yang didirikan untuk menggali sejarah dan kekayaan khasanah kebudayaan Batak secara keseluruhan.

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