Sawung Galing, the legend of Surabaya
Sawung Galing is a legend from Surabaya, Indonesia. He started from zero because he was neglected by his father in his childhood, and he became a hero when he could resist colonialism.
The story line.
Sawung Galing, the legend of Surabaya
A long, long time ago Surabaya was already a busy harbor in the eastern part of Java Island in present day Indonesia. The ruler of Surabaya was a wise man, named Tumenggung Jayengrono. He liked hunting very much. Wiyung was the name of an area where he usually went hunting with his men. There was a small forest there where he could hunt for deer and other animals.
One day he saw a beautiful girl named Dewi Sangkrah in the village of Wiyung. Jayengrono instantly fell in love with her. Dewi Sangkrah could not refuse his love and they became lovers. Several months later she gave birth to a baby boy. The baby boy was named Joko Bereg. Jayengrono told his girlfriend to keep his son and gave the girl a beautiful pendant.
Day by day passed by and Joko Bereg grew as a handsome and smart boy who looked like his father. Unfortunately he did not have a father so he often heard people gossiping about his mother. Joko Bereg was hurt by the gossip so one day he asked his mother about it.
‘Mom, may I ask you something?’
‘Yes, of course’
‘I’ve been thinking about this problem over the past few months. Actually I do not dare to ask you about this. I am afraid I will hurt your feeling’
‘What is it about? ‘
‘People are gossiping about us’
Her mother was shocked. She was speechless for a moment. She tried very hard to control her emotion.
‘Ok, it is not your fault. I know how you feel. It’s my fault. Forgive me my son. Now that you are adult, it is time for you to know the truth’
‘No mom, if it is too hard for you, you don’t have to tell me. I will try to understand’
‘No, Joko. Sooner or later you have to know your background. Listen. Joko, you have a father. You father is a very special person. He is a powerful man. His name is Tumenggung Jayengrono, the ruler of Surabaya’.
This time Joko Bereg was shocked. He was speechless.
‘I don’t understand mom’
‘Twenty years ago I met him here in this village when he went hunting here. He told me he would marry me. Then when you were born he told me to keep you well and he promised me to return and to take me to his home. I don’t know why he never kept his words. But he gave me something. Look. He gave me this pendant’.
‘Mom, why did not you do anything? It is not fair for him to leave you just like that’
‘Joko, I am just a poor powerless woman. What can I do to such a powerful man?’
‘Mom, I have an idea. I will come to see him in Surabaya’
‘Ok, but promise me that you must keep you manner. He is a respected and powerful man. Don’t make him angry. Tell him who you are nicely and politely and show him this pendant’
The next day Joko Bereg went to Surabaya alone. Although he just a poor boy who came from a village, Joko was very neat and polite. Then he met the guard in front of Jayengrono’s house.
‘Excuse me; I am Joko Bereg from the village of Wiyung, just outside the town. May I ask permission to have an audience with Tumenggung Jayengrono?’
‘What for’ asked the guard arrogantly.
‘I would like to report about the latest situation in my village, Wiyung’
‘You have to wait for several days because his Excellency is very busy’.
So Joko Bereg had to wait for several days. Then one day the guard called his name and he was allowed to get in. Tumenggung Jayengrono was a kind man. He was not arrogant at all. When he saw Joko he warmly welcomed him.
‘Excuse me your Excellency, may I come in?’
‘Hi young man, come in, sit here. What’s your name? Why do you want to see me?’
‘I am Joko Bereg from Wiyung. Before telling you about my reason to see you, let me beg your pardon if my words will make you angry’
‘What is it about?
‘About my family’
‘Your family? Do you have family problems?
‘Yes, your Excellency, actually I am the son of Dewi Sangkrah from the village of Wiyung. She told me that I have to see you and to show you this pendant. She said this pendant is from you’.
Ten thunders strike at the same time was lighter than the words of Joko Bereg for Tumenggung Jayengrono. He never expected those words. He thought that Joko was an ordinary village chief who wanted to report something. As he could control his emotion he asked further.
‘What did she tell you?’
‘She said that she met you in Wiyung twenty years ago then you told her that you will marry her. When I was born you gave her this pendant. She said that I am your son. But you never came back.’
‘Did she marry another man after that?’
‘No, she did not. She has been expecting you for a long time’
Tumenggung Jayengrono was silent. He looked at his yard without saying a word. Meanwhile Joko Bereg was also silent. He did not dare to say anything. He just looked at the floor.
‘Joko, this is very surprising for me, but I must admit that I have neglected you and your mother. It is my fault. Forgive me for my faults. I must also ask forgiveness to your mother. She must have been deeply hurt. So, here is my decision. From now on you are my legitimate son from your mother Dewi Sangkrah and you will live here with me. I will give you a new name – Sawung Galing. Tomorrow you must go home to Wiyung and tell your mother about it. She is also my legitimate wife but she lives there in Wiyung’.
The news that Tumenggung Jayengrono had a new wife and a son spread quickly throughout the country. Everybody was shocked especially Jayengrono’s family. He had already a wife and two sons – Sawung Rono and Sawung Sari. They were very disappointed and very upset. So they prepared a plan to eliminate Sawung Galing.
The first day Sawung Galing lived in his father’s house was the hardest for him. Many eyes stared suspiciously at him. Jayengrono’s wife and sons hated him very much but they did not dare to show their hatred to Jayengrono. One day when Jayengrono was busy they met him. Jayengrono’s wife could not control her emotion when she met him.
‘Hey, you are not supposed to be here. You are just a stupid village boy!’
‘Excuse me? ‘
‘Get out of my house!’
‘I am afraid that’s not right. I am here on the order of his Excellency Jayengrono. Besides, I am also his son. Please be just’
Sawungrono and Sawungsari also very angry.
‘Hey, you stupid village boy, you have no right to debate my mother. She is a respected woman and you are just a son of a bitch!’
Sawung Galing could not control his emotion when he heard sarcastic words of his step brothers. The tension mounted and so they fought. Sawung Galing was outnumbered but he was a strong and smart boy while his step brothers were just spoiled boys who never worked hard. Finally Sawung Galing could beat his step brothers. Meanwhile the servants were very happy to see Sawung Galing could defeat them. Actually they did not like Sawungrono and Sawungsari who were arrogant and sarcastic.
Sawung Galing was a polite boy. Although he had a high position by then, he remained friendly to everybody. Soon he won the respect of many people.
Meanwhile the Dutch colonial ruler did not like Tumenggung Jayengrono. They thought that Jayengrono was an obstacle to their colonial ambition. So they tried to find away to overthrow him from power. Then they held a competition. In the field of Surabaya they put a flag and asked people to shoot at it with an arrow. Anybody who could shoot it would be promoted as the ruler of Surabaya.
Many people came to take part in the competition including the sons of Jayengrono. Sawung Rono and Sawung Sari could not make it since they were just spoiled boys who could do nothing. Sawung Galing soon took his turn. His shot was good; he could shot at the flag. The colonial ruler soon promoted him as the successor of Jayengrono. They were sure that they could dictate the new young ruler.
The assumption of the colonial ruler was wrong. Sawung Galing proved to be a good leader. He knew from first hand experience of his people’s suffering so when he was in power he fought for them. He did not want to be dictated by the colonialist. He built a strong army and he could resist the Dutch military attack.
Today people still remember him as a hero and a legend of Surabaya. His tomb is located in the district of Wiyung in the city of Surabaya, the second biggest city in Indonesia. He was buried there with his mother, his grand father and his relatives. Many people come to pray for him in his tomb.