As retold by Samsuni
Nenek Luhu is actually the name of a lady who is believed to disappear misteriously. The story of her is told in a legend of Ambon people, Maluku. She will come out everytime there is sunshower. The local people believe in such weather, they shall not go out of their houses as Nenek Luhu will take anyone she meets, particularly kids. Who is Nenek Luhu really? Here is the story.
In the time of Dutch occupation in Indonesian Archipelago, there was a kingdom called Luhu. The kingdom was situated in Seram Island, Maluku. Luhu was a kingdom rich in clove yields. The thinly populated kingdom was ruled by King Gimelaha Luhu Tuban, more famously known as King Luhu. The king had a beautiful wife name Puar Bulan and a daughter named Ta Ina Luhu, a gorgeous girl. Ta Ina Luhu literally means a girl from Luhu or Princess of Luhu or Princess Luhu. She was the oldest child of the king who was good natured. She was obedience, noble, devout, independent, and caring. She had two brothers, Sabadin Luhu and Kasim Luhu.
Over the time, Dutch colonial quarter in Ambon heard about the richness of Luhu Kingdom’s natural resources in the nearby island of Seram. Fully-armed, the Dutch posed attack on Luhu Kingdom. King Luhu and his troops tried to fight them back so war was inevitable. The war was known as Pongi War, or as some others call it, Huamual War. The Dutch conquered Luhu. The king, all the royal family, and his people were all killed. The only one survivor was the king’s daughter, Ta Ina Luhu. She was, however, captured and brought by the Dutch army to Ambon to be married off with the Dutch army commander.
Arriving at Victoria Fort, Ambon, Ta Ina Luhu declined the marriage with the Dutch commander. She was then raped by the commander as she was forceless. She did not want to be treated badly by the Dutch. She tried to find a way out of Ambon.
One night, Ta Ina Luhu finally pulled off her escape plan after deceiving the Dutch guards. She went out of Ambon to a kingdom known as Soya. In the kingdom, she was well-received by the king. She was even regarded as a Soya Royal Family member. She was given a fine and beautiful bedroom. Ta Ina Luhu was moved by the reception. She recalled her past when she was the princess of Luhu Kingdom. She shed tears without her noticing, wetting her cheeks. The memory of her parents and brothers appeared in his mind. Ta Ina Luhu was missing them so.
“Father, Mother! Sabadin and Kasim, my brothers! I missed you so but nothing I can do but wishing you all rest in peace.”
After living in Soya Palace for several months, Ta Ina Luhu was pregnant. This made her uncomfortable to live in the palace for longer time because her condition would certainly make work for the Royal Family. She then decided to leave the palace.
“O, God! I do not have anyone in this world. But if I stay here I will just bother the Royal Family’s life. I have to go now. Guide me, God!” prayed Ta Ina Luhu.
One night, when the palace turned quiet, Ta Ina Luhu tiptoed towards the palace back door. She did not tell the King’s family about her leaving because if so, they would not allow it. At the backyard, she saw a horse tied on a tree. The horse belonged to the king and was usually ridden to go to call on the Governor of Ambon. Carefully, Ta Ina Luhu got on the horse’s back. Just before she left the kingdom, the princess mumbled.
“I am sorry, Your Majesty. Forgive me, all my brothers and sisters! You have been so kind to me. But I have to go because I do not want to bother you. I will leave now.”
After that, Ta Ina Luhu left without anybody knowing about her escape. She rode the horse through a quiet and gloomy jungle. Despite the cold, the princess kept moving on fast to the top of the mountain. There, the princess stopped. She was amazed by the mesmerizing beauty of Ambon Gulf. The scenery cured the princess’ feeling for awhile.
“Oh my land! Your beauty bewitches me,” said Ta Ina Luhu admiringly.
As she said so, the princess fell off her horse and fainted. She could not bear the fatigue after an exhausting night. Not long after, however, she gained consciousness. With the rest of her energy, she tried to wake up and stand beside her horse. Half-consciously, she pulled her horse to a shady and luxuriant rose-apple tree next to her.
The horse was tied on the tree and the princess was lying her body on the ground. She was asleep not long after and woke up in the morning. She felt hungry and with her weak body, she picked a rose-apple from the tree. She gained back her power as she ate some of the fruits.
Meanwhile, in Soya Palace, the king was panic as he knew that Ta Ina Luhu disappeared. Everyone had been looking for her in every corner of the palace but found nothing. The guards had searched down the streets and got back with zero result. But suddenly, a guard came in before the king.
“Your Majesty, I have come to report something,” said the guard.
“Did you find Putri Ta Ina Luhu? Where is she now?” asked the king curiously.
“No, Your Majesty! I have to tell you that your horse disappeared as well. I think Putri Ta Ina Luhu has left the kingdom with the horse,” explained the guard.
Hearing the report, King Soya became more panic. He was so worried about the princess condition. Without thinking further, he hit the tife (a little drum) four times to call the marinyo (drummer) and six times more to call the Kepala Soa (king counselor). Soon afterwards, the two officials of the kingdom came to meet the king.
“Your Majesty, what can we do for you?” asked both officials.
“Gather all men of sixteen to forty years old! And as you have them rounded up, ask them to look for Putri Ta Ina Luhu and bring her home safe!” commanded King Soya.
“As you wish, Your Majesty!” answered the two officials.
The people were gathered and then divided into groups. Afterwards, they started to look for the princess, following the horse traces.
Meanwhile, Ta Ina Luhu was still on the mountain top. It was nearly midday when she heard the voice of people calling her name from far away. Knowing that they must be King’s guards looking for her, she hurried to leave the place. Not long after, the guards got to the place were Ta Ina used to be. They found nothing but rose-apple peals. It is believed that the guards then called the place as Gunung Nona, the Mountain of the Lady.
Ta Ina Luhu kept spurring her horse on downwards, heading for Amahusu beach. Moving so fast, her hat got loose. People believe that when the princess was about to take her hat back, it turned into a stone. The stone was then named “Batu Capeu”.
The princess was moving on along the shore until arriving in Ambon. Her body was weak because of hunger and thirst. So was her horse. Then after looking around for a while, she finally found a spring. Ta Ina Luhu drank the water to quench her thirst. The spring was named “Air Putih”, meaning pure water.
After a short rest in the spring, Ta Ina Luhu intended to ascend back to Gunung Nona through different route to avoid meeting with the king’s guards. But as she was about to get on her horse back, she heard voices calling her name.
“Putri… Putri… Putri Ta Ina Luhu … ! Come back, please… King Soya is waiting for you!”
Ta Ina Luhu climbed upon the horse right away to run away. But then, the guards blocked her. Cornered, Ta Ina Luhu got down and on her knees she prayed to God that the guards would not take her back to the palace.
“Oh, God! Help me! I do not want to go back to the palace of Soya. I do not want to burden other people. I want to live alone, God!” wished Ta Ina Luhu.
When one of the guards grabbed her hand, suddenly Ta Ina Luhu disappeared. The guards were all startled. They were perplexed by such a magical occurrence.
Since then, a spirit begun to haunt the people of Ambon. When it rains but the weather is hot, there is often a person—especially a child—lost. According to the people’s belief, they are kidnapped by a ghoul who is the incarnation of Ta Ina Luhu. Thus, people start to call Ta Ina Luhu “Nenek Luhu”. However, until now nobody knows why Nenek Luhu haunts people, especially children.
Thus ends the story of Nenek Luhu from Ambon, Maluku. The legend contains moral teachings to guide us in everyday life. There are at least two moral values in the story, namely determination and independece. These are seen in the attitude and deed of Ta Ina Luhu. She never gives up trying to escape from the Dutch fort, wherein she is treated badly. And she never wants to burden others. That is why she runs away from the Palace of Soya discretely.
Moreover, the above story also teaches people about maintaining health. Whether it is true or not, the belief that Nenek Luhu will come out every time there is a sun shower is used by the local people to keep the children inside the house because such weather could give them cold, cough, or fever. (Samsuni/sas/188/03-10)
Translation by Reza Daffi (trans/01/05-10)