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The Gut Demons

Diabu kum Tripa

In this traditional folktale passed down orally from one generation to the next, pregnant women turn into demons.

Sara Frederica Santa Maria reads "The Gut Demons" in the original Melaka Portuguese.

Long ago, deep in the jungle, there lived six pregnant women. Every day they would go hunting for food. This activity exhausted them, as their bellies grew bigger and heavier by the day. One day, they gathered to speak about their troubles. One of them suggested that they consult a sorceress. They were told that the sorceress could help them, but they could only meet with her on Thursday nights. They discussed the matter for many hours and then decided to visit her.

The very next Thursday night, the women went to see the sorceress. After listening to their troubles, the sorceress replied in an ominous tone: “If you want my help, you must listen very carefully to what I say. When you go in search of food, you must do so at night, and you must only go with your head and intestines.

"You must leave at midnight and be back home by three in the morning. If you aren’t, you will become gut demons for eternity. The only way to return to your human form will be to drink the blood of pregnant women.” The six women took in the sorceress’s words. From that night onward, they would go looking for food in the darkness of the night, leaving their bodies behind. Fearing the curse, they returned home by three in the morning without fail.

The women continued their nightly hunting rituals until one night, when a young hunter spotted them in their bodiless form. All he saw were floating heads attached to trailing intestines. Uncowed, he followed them to their house and witnessed their transformation. The next night, he returned to the house and watched as they left their bodies behind. Waiting patiently until they set out to hunt, he crept into their house. Next, he repositioned the pregnant women’s bodies so that they would have trouble finding them. When they returned, they could not fit into the bodies that were placed where they had left them. Each of them frantically flew in all directions in search of the right body, but to no avail. The clock struck three, and from that moment on they were forced to remain gut demons.

You may say you have never come across these demons. Legend has it they were all captured by mighty sorcerers many, many years ago . . . or do they still lurk nearby, watching you in the dark?

Translation © 2021 by Sara Frederica Santa Maria. All rights reserved.

Diabu kum Tripa

Intémpu, na rentu di matu, teng ses muler prenyada ta fiká. Kada dia olotu logu sai buská kumi. Olotu sinti muitu kansadu kauzu di olotu sa bariga. Mas dia mas grandi kum pezadu. Isti faze kum olotu muitu kansadu.Ungua dia, ses-ses santa papiá kauzu akeli trabalu. Ungua di olotu ja dá sintidu bai encontra kum feitiseira. Diski, akeli feitiseira podi judá kum olotu mas misti bai encontrá kum eli, Kintaféra anuiti. Olutu santa papia tantu oras. Tudu asedi kum akeli sintidu.

Kintaféra anuiti, olotu bai encontra kum feitiseira. Kabak ja ubi olotu sa trabalu, feitiseira, falá kum olotu kum sa song muitu brabu, “Kantu kere yo judá bolotudu toká ubi bong-bong ki yo kere falá. Bolotu misti sai buska kumi anuiti na mas. Mas chuma bos sa kabesa cum tripa. Bos sa bariga toká largá na kaza. Bolotu misti sai dozi oras, mas antu di tres oras pamiang bolotu misti bai bira. Kantu nungka, bolotu logu fiká Diabu kum Tripa per sempri. Kantu kere fiká jenti di tona, bolotu toká bebe sangi di parida.” Tudu ses muler intinde ki feitiseira ta falá. Midu logu toka feitiseiru) di akeili anoiti olotu sai buská kumi ate tres oras pamiang.

Tudu muler kontináa kum olotu sa kasade, chuma ki olotu faze kada anoiti ate ungua anoiti ja beng kasadur ja bai na rentu di matu. Eli ja encontrá kum ungua di Diabu kum Tripa. Eli ja sigi ate na kaza. Eli olá ki sorti olotu tuká fiká jenti di torna. Akeli anuiti, eli, spiá ki sorti olotu tuká fiká Diabu kum Tripa. Eli ja olá ses-ses muler, largá sa bariga na kaza. Kabak olotu sai, eli intrá na kaza, misturá olotu sa bariga. Tres oras, olotu bira, bai trus buská unsong sa bariga mas umpodi acá. Ja kabak di oras ta buská mas umpodi aca. Di akeili anoiti, olotu ja fiká Diabu kum Tripa per sempri.

Ubi stori de nus sa abok-disabok, tudu ja toká pegá di otru feitiseiru. Akeli kauzu umpodi enkontrá mas kum Diabu kum Tripa, ke, olotu ta merka kum bos na skuru.

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