My name is Truot Vit, I am a 43 year old Bunong woman from Pou Treng village, Dak Dam commune, O Raing district, Mondulkiri. I’ve been living here for 12 years. I know this story as it was told to me by my parents. The following story is about “A Snake Man”:
Once upon a time there was an angel man who transformed himself into a snake; he came to visit the people world, in the people world there was a family which comprised two members – a father and his daughter. The daughter’s name was Chhi Put Prek Mat aka Kramom Doh. The family was very poor and they had no relatives. This family had been the poorest one in the village for a long time; although they tried to work hard at their farm, their financial situation did not improve (unlike the other families in the village). Their neighbors got good rice products from their work at their farm – which reflected the energy that they had put in. Unlike the family of Chhi Put Prek Mat’s. Day by day, more and more people had been moving into the village of Chhi Put Prek Mat’s so that the village became a crowded but happy village because of the new people.
Time moved on, these people also changed from being young to growing old but the family of Chhi Put Prek Mat’s did not.
There was one day when the son of an angel, ‘The Snake Man’, asked his parents to go visit the people world. “I would like to go visit the people world mom and dad as I am too boring now. I want to visit there for a few days”, he said. His mother replied “you will be allowed to go if you give us a promise.” The snake man replied to his mother “yes, say it please mom, I will follow it.” His mother said “please try not to fall in love with a woman when you are in that world.” He replied “yes, mom.” After that conversation, the snake man and his parents separated.
At the people world, Chhi Put Prek Mat’s father took off his shirt and used it as a trap for a bird on a Fig tree where it was far from his house. Kramom Doh was staying and waiting for her father at home as she had got many red spots on her body. Her father got many birds from his trap so he collected the birds and climbed down from the tree. Suddenly, he saw a strange and big snake with a huge crest as big as the size of flat bamboo basket on its head. The snake was surrounding the bottom of the tree. Her father was very fearful to see the snake; he didn’t know which way he could go to escape from it. He waited for the snake to leave the tree so he could climb down later, he thought. Unfortunately, the snake didn’t move at all. After waiting for a very long time and feeling very scared, he decided to talk to the snake. “If you want to eat me, please eat me at home because my daughter could be with me for the last time” he said. The snake moved closer to him up the tree. So the man again said to the snake, “or would you prefer to eat cow or buffalo? If you agree to move down from this tree, I will get that animal for you.” The snake got closer and closer to him. Then the man continued, ”or would you want to eat my daughter?” The snake moved down and got out of the tree after he heard Kramom Doh’s father saying those words. The man felt so upset when he knew that the snake wanted to eat his daughter, he cried and blamed himself a lot. He didn’t know how he could help his daughter from this snake. He walked home and was followed by the snake. When he got home, he told his daughter (with tears) about what had happened to him. He felt sorrow and pity for his daughter. He imagined that he always had his daughter with him every day but now he worried about her being eaten by a snake. He cried while he waited to see the snake swallow his daughter (from late evening when he got home until the morning of the next day). He didn’t see his daughter swallowed by the snake but he saw that the red spots on her body had disappeared.
The snake went to sleep with Kramom Doh during the night and helped her with other tasks during the day. If she dried her rice seeds under the sun, he would look after the chickens (don’t let the chickens eat those rice seeds!). He also went with her when she went to take a bath at the river. There was one day, while she was walking to bathe when he didn’t follow her but he took the chance to go home and visit his mother. Kramom Doh did not know that he had not followed her. So, she told the snake to go back home after she took a bath. Afterwards, she tried to call and look for him for a long time but she could not get any response from him. Anyway, after visiting his mother, the snake man transformed himself into the most handsome man in the village and he was in a rush to come to the place where Kramom Doh took her bath. He saw that Kramom Doh was calling for him when he got there. He pretended to ask her “what are you looking for?” Kramom Doh turned around and nearly fainted when she saw the handsome man. After she recovered from her faint she said to the man “who was asking me what I was looking for? I am looking for a snake, brother.” The man said to her “why are you looking for a snake? Aren’t you scared that it will bite you?” She answered “it will not bite me because it is always with me and helps me when I dry my rice seeds. But now I don’t know where it is.” The man continued “don’t try to find that snake anymore and marry me please.” She replied “I will stop talking with you and I am going to find that snake.” So the man took hold of her hand and pulled her and said to her “why are you are so obstinate! I told you not to go and look for that snake because I am that snake.” She replied “let go of my hand please, I don’t believe you.” The man replied “why don’t you believe me! I am going to transform into that snake when I put this shirt on and I am going to become a man when I pull off this shirt. If you still do not trust in me, I will do it for you. “Then he dressed up in the shirt and he suddenly transformed into the snake. After that, Kramom Doh felt she could trust him. The snake man told her not to tell this to the other people. After that, they went back home.
Kramom Doh decided to ask her father to organize a wedding ceremony between her and the snake man. Her father agreed with her suggestion and he informed the other villagers of this news. The villagers mocked his family and said “many men in the village have fallen in love with and tried to propose to her but she refused them and prefers to marry a snake. Do you want your daughter to be eaten by that snake? That’s why you agreed with her, isn’t it?” The man replied “I inform and invite you because you are in the same village as me, it would be bad if I didn’t do that. What can I do if she has decided already? You can go to her wedding party if you want but I won’t force you if you don’t want to.”
Those villagers were not unsatisfied with the wedding of Kramom Doh and the snake man but they all participated in their wedding because they were from the same village. When they arrived at Kramom Doh’s wedding place, they saw her husband was a man (he was not a snake). Kramom Doh was well matched with the snake man.
After marrying, they lived together and started working as farmers like other families in the village.
The other women in the village were very jealous with Kramom Doh’s life and her happiness. They asked the snake man to find snake husbands for them as well. The snake man said to those ladies “I could not find snake husbands for you because it is not an easy task”. The ladies replied “how about your relatives, please do not hide them. Share them with us please?” The snake man replied “I have relatives but they are all married. But you can marry my uncles or my brother if you want.” The ladies replied “yes, we don’t mind marrying them if they are handsome and rich like you.” After that, the snake man informed his uncles and brothers of this news and he arranged a date for them. Yet, those ladies hit and fought the snakes when they met and saw that the snakes were too small and poor on the day of their dates. The snake man was not happy with that so he said to the ladies “you won’t get them if you don’t love them.” After the events of that day, the ladies still begged the snake man to look for snake husbands for them. The snake man replied to the ladies “if you still wanted snake husbands, please marry the python, he is my father.” Then he went to find a python for the ladies in a forest. Actually, that python he had mentioned was not his father; it was a real python from the forest. A lady amongst those ladies agreed to marry the real python – they became husband and wife and lived together with the lady’s father. The python didn’t move and kept silent at the moment because he was not hungry yet. But later, when he was hungry, he moved around his wife. He wanted to swallow her into his tummy but the lady thought that he was teasing her. She said to the python “heh! Get away from me, don’t play too much. Can’t you see I am weaving?” As time went on the python was becoming hungrier and hungrier so he always licked his wife every day. There was a day, when he was too hungry and couldn’t be patient anymore so he swallowed the lady. There was a dove who saw this and went to tell her father that “the python is tightening your daughter and wants to swallow her.” Her father didn’t believe in the dove’s words and he insulted the dove, “you are jealous to see my daughter having a sweet time with her husband.” Although that dove was insulted he still tried to tell the lady’s father again and again but her father still didn’t trust in his words. The dove tried to find a way to help the lady by scratching the ashes in the house in order to inform the lady’s father that his house was burning. When her father saw the smoke from his house, he quickly went home because he was worried that his daughter was sleeping and didn’t know that the house was burning. He entered the house but when he got there he didn’t see any fire. He also did not see his daughter and her husband. He tried to find them inside and outside the house. While he was trying to look for them around his house he found a track with the python’s body print and saw that it was moving towards a deep water hole. When he saw the tracks he realized that his daughter had been swallowed by the python. He followed the body print of the python to the bank of the water hole and he saw the shadow of the python in the water hole and under the roots of a Fig tree. So, he jumped into the water hole but he could not see the python and his daughter. In fact, the python was staying in the top of the tree but its shadow was reflected onto the water. The villagers helped him to empty the water from the hole but they could not find the python. The python had also disappeared when the water hole was emptied. They could see the python again when the water was back in the water hole. At that time, there was an aunt relaxing and breastfeeding her baby under the Fig tree and she saw the python in the top of the tree. She spoke loudly to everyone “that python is in the tree, it is not in the water. What we have seen was its shadow.” All the villagers moved to the tree and they saw the python. They caught the python and cut open its belly; they finally found the lady. The lady was still alive but her body was totally covered by the python’s slippery substance which stuck to her . Day after day and many times each day she tried to clean that slippery substance but there was no possibility in removing it. She was so upset that she cried everyday because the villagers always laughed at her. There was one day when the snake man’s house was nearly finished but he needed more house supplies (materials that had to be used in the house) so he asked his wife if he could go and get those things from another town (far from their house). Because of how the snake man had asked her his pregnant wife still let him go. On the day he left home he told his wife not to go far from home because he would not be home for a few days.
The lady who was swallowed by the python was walking past the snake man’s house to take a bath at the river and she saw that Kramom Doh was home alone so she also knew the snake man was not at home. She thought that this was a good opportunity for her. She then called Kramom Doh to go and take a bath with her. Kramom Doh tried to ignore her but that was impossible. Thus, they went together for a bath. While they were bathing, the lady who was swallowed by the python told Kramom Doh to go into the boat and move to the front side of the boat and that she would row the boat from the back. Kramom Doh agreed to do this. When they were in the boat the lady who was swallowed by the python rowed the boat into deep water and spun the boat strongly; she wanted to let Kramom Doh die by drowning in the water. She thought, if Kramom Doh died, she would become the Snake man’s wife!
Kramom Doh was dropped out of the boat and she died by drowning. Her body floated and flowed along to her parents-in-law world. Her mother-in-law blew on her (with magic power) to awaken her and to help her relive again. She immediately became alive again at that time. Her mother-in-law asked her “why did this happen to you?” Kramom Doh told her mother-in-law about what had happened. After listening to Kramom Doh’s story, her mother-in-law told a cock to go and find the snake man and tell him to rush back home and to tell him that his wife had been abused by other people. The snake man returned home quickly after he was told this by the cock. He went to this mother’s house and took his wife home. He saw the lady that had been swallowed by the python was at his house when he got there. He was very angry with the lady. However, the lady was waiting for him in his house because she thought that the snake man was going to belong to her. Because Kramom Doh was pregnant the lady pretended that she was pregnant as well by making a big fake belly (putting some clothes under her shirt). She thought that Kramom Doh had died after the event because when it happened she witnessed the death herself. Suddenly, the snake man gave her a kick so the clothes dropped down from her fake belly. She was so embarrassed that she then ran out quickly from the snake man’s house.
Since that day, the snake man and his wife have lived together, happily and wealthily.