Folklore of West Sumatra: The legend of Malin Kundang, the Disobedient Child from Padang

Malin Kundang Mengusir Ibunya

In ancient times, in Padang, West Sumatra, in the Air Manis Beach Village, there lived a widow named Mande Rubayah. He has a son named Malin Kundang. Malin is very loved by his mother, because since childhood Malin Kundang has been left behind by his father. Malin and his mother live in a fishing village. His mother is old and he only works as a cake seller.

Until one day Malin fell ill. His body suddenly became hot. Mande Rubayah, of course, was very confused. Malin never fell ill like this. Mande Rubayah tried his best to treat Malin by bringing in a healer. Malin’s life that almost floated was finally saved thanks to the hard work of his mother. After recovering from his illness he loved him even more. Thus Mande Rubayah loved her son. On the other hand, Malin is also very fond of his mother.

Malin Kundang Goes Wander

When he was an adult, Malin said goodbye to his mother to go overseas. At that time there was indeed a large ship docked at Air Manis Beach. Although with a heavy heart, finally Mande Rubayah allowed her son to go. Malin was provided with seven packs of rice wrapped in banana leaves. The days passed slowly for Mande Rubayah. Every morning and evening Mande Rubayah looks out to sea.

When there are waves and a big storm hits the shore, his chest is pounding. He raised his hands upward while praying that his son would be safe on the voyage. If a ship arrives at the dock, he always asks about his son. But all the crew and the skipper never gave satisfactory answers. Malin never left any items or messages to his mother.

That’s what Mande Rubayah has done every day for years. His body is getting old with age. If he walks, he starts bending over because he is old. “Malin, when do you come home …” groaned Mande Rubayah every night. But for months since he received the news, Malin had not come to see him. But he was sure that one day Malin would come back.

His wish came true. One fine day from a distance a beautiful ship was seen sailing towards the shore. The ship was majestic and terraced. People thought that the ship belonged to a sultan or king. They greeted him happily.

When the ship began to dock, a young couple stood on the bridge. Their clothes sparkled in the sun. Their faces were bright with smiles. They looked happy because they were greeted with great fanfare.

Malin Kundang Refuses His Mother

Mande Rubayah joined the crowd to see and approach the ship. His heart was beating hard. And very sure that the young man is his favorite child, Malin Kundang. Not to mention that the village elders had time to welcome him, Mrs. Malin first approached Malin. He immediately hugged Malin tightly. As if afraid of losing her child again.

“Malin, my son,” he said, holding back sobs of joy. “Why hasn’t you kept up with the news so long?” Malin was stunned because he was embraced by the old woman who was dressed in rags. He couldn’t believe that this woman was his mother. As far as Malin remembered, his mother was a strong woman who was strong to carry him anywhere.

Before he could think calmly, his lovely wife said, “Cuh! This bad woman is your mother? Why did you lie to me?” Hearing his wife’s words, Malin Kundang pushed the woman until she rolled into the sand.

Mande Rubayah could hardly believe the treatment of her son, she sat down and said, “Malin, Malin, my son. I am your mother, son!” Malin Kundang ignored his mother’s words. His mind was confused because of what his wife said.

If that woman were really her mother, he wouldn’t admit it. He was ashamed of his wife. Seeing the woman shuffled about to embrace her legs, Malin kicked her, saying, “Hi, old woman! My mother is not like you! Poor and dirty!” The old woman is lying in the sand. Mande Rubayah fainted and lay alone.

When he realized, Air Manis Beach was deserted. At sea he saw Malin’s ship getting farther away. His heart ached as if it were prickling. He extended his hand to Iangit. He then cried out to God Almighty. “If he is not my son, I will forgive his behavior earlier. But if he really is my son, Malin Kundang, I ask for Your justice, O God …! “

Not long after, the weather in the middle of the sea, which had been bright, suddenly turned dark. Rain suddenly fell heavily. Somehow initially a big storm suddenly hit Malin Kundang’s ship accompanied by a thundering lightning strike. Instantly the ship was smashed into pieces and then crashed into the waves and drifted to the shore. When the next morning the morning sun shone again. At the foot of the hill, you can see the pieces of Malin Kundang’s ship.

Not far from that place appeared a rock that resembled a human body. It is said that Malin’s body brought the son of disobedience who was cursed by his mother to stone. Between the rocks, anchovies, mullet fish, and mackerel fish are swimming. That said, the fish came from the body of the wife who kept looking for Malin Kundang.

Thus, until now, when a large wave hits the rocks that resemble ships and humans, there will be a sound like howling human screams. How heartbreaking the sounds. Sometimes it sounds like people lamenting themselves. “I am sorry, Mom…!” It is said that that was the voice of the Malin Kundang.

The message of the folklore regarding Malin Kundang is that every child has an obligation to serve their parents. If you have succeeded in life, don’t forget your family and hometown. Hopefully inspired.


Rahimsyah, MB. 2007. Complete collection of archipelago folklore from 33 provinces. Bintang Usaha Jaya, Surabaya.

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Oleh Agus Siswoyo

Teacher in real life, story teller and Indonesian blogger.

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