Near the mouth of the Batang Arau River there once was a large fishing
village. Its harbour was crowded with large ships and sailing vessels from all
corners of the world.
Among the many fishing families, there lived a poor fisherman and his wife
and son. Their only child was so spoiled that he was called Malin Kundang.
Malin was the boy’s name but Kundang meant spoiled.
Malin Kundang was a naughty child. One day when he was playing too
roughly, he fell and wounded his forehead. It left a scar that clearly marked
the boy. Even when he was grown into a young man, the scar could plainly
When Malin Kundang was a young man, he was so well-built and strong that
his father was able to secure a place for him with a sea captain. “Dear sir, if
you need a crewman, please take my son with you. You may bring him up
and consider him as your own son. I hope he can learn much from you, sir,
and perhaps one day he can become a captain like yourself.”
The ship’s captain was willing to take Malin Kundang aboard, and Malin
Kundang was excited by the opportunity to see other countries.
It was hard for Malin Kundang’s parents to see him off at the port. They
watched until the ship disappeared from sight. Then they returned to their
little hut, only hoping that one day they would see their beloved son again.
Day after day, week after week, year after year passed, Malin Kundang
worked diligently and learned a great deal. He made a fortune for himself.
He became a rich sea captain, with a large ship of his own. He married the
daughter of a wealthy merchant. He completely forgot his own village and
his loving parents who still waited for his return.
Years passed and his parents grew older and older. His father died, but his
old mother still waited. She hoped to see her son once more.
Eventually Malin Kundang did begin to think of his old village and so he
decided to visit it. He had never told his wife of his village for fear she would
not like a man of such poor birth.
When his large ship arrived in the harbour of Batang Arau the villagers all
rushed to see the wonderful sight. “Who could be the owner of the rich
ship?” they asked each other.
Then one old man in the crowd saw the scar on the forehead of the ship’s
captain. “It could only be Malin Kundang,” he thought. He hurried to tell
Malin Kundang’s mother that her son had arrived as a rich merchant. How
happy she was to hear the news of her son’s homecoming after all these
Before long the news had spread throughout the entire village. But keeping
her longing to herself for a while more, Malin Kundang’s mother quickly
prepared Malin Kundang’s favourite food. Then she and her neighbour
hurried to the port to greet her son.
There was the marvellous ship, and on its deck a most handsome man in
such expensive clothing. Malin Kundang’s mother was so proud to see her
Arriving near the ship, she called out, “Malin Kundang! My dear son! At last
you have come home! Malin Kundang, my son! I have been longing and
waiting for you all these years. Here is your mother, dear son!” She was full
of happiness, for she had seen the scar on the rich merchant’s forehead and
knew that this really was her own son.
But when Malin Kundang saw this old woman in poor clothing calling to him,
he was too ashamed to answer. Turning away, he ordered his crewmen to
remove her from the shore.
“But Malin Kundang,” called his mother. “Just look at me. You must recognize
your own mother. I am bringing your favourite food. Remember when you
were a child?” She held up the food.
But Malin Kundang still turned away. He would not admit before his wife and
crewmen that this poor old woman was his own mother.
Still his mother called out to him, “Malin Kundang, how can you forget me?
I am your own mother! Look at me carefully, Malin Kundang! You must have
Malin Kundang was too ashamed of her. With no compassion whatsoever,
he told her, “Shameless old woman. I do not have a dirty and poor mother
like this. My mother is dead. Don’t ever claim yourself as my mother.” And his
men dragged her off.
His mother could only call after him, “Malin Kundang, you are a wicked child!
You won’t accept your own mother. You are an ungrateful child, ashamed
to admit your own mother who brought you up.” She went home in sorrow,
with a broken heart.
The following day, Malin Kundang ordered his crew to leave and set sail from
his old village. But once they reached the middle of the sea, the wind came
up and began to throw Malin Kundang’s ship left and right. Lightning and
thunder took over the sky. The clouds were pitch dark. The sounds were
Malin Kundang realized his offense toward his mother. He knew that God
and nature were punishing him for his bad deed. He began to pray and
cry for forgiveness. But it was too late. The waves became more and more
fierce. At last his ship was swallowed by a wave and it sank from sight.