The Origin of Sawo: A Side Story of Sapodilla Fruit

Original story by Zaimatul Muktarifah and Sri Astuti

Edited by Fatwa Hapsari Alwihani

photo via 

A long time ago, there lived a poor family consisting of two people. The older sister was Salsa and the younger brother was Woshi. They lived in the wood that was part of a big kingdom. They lived with everything that could be used and be eaten in the jungle. Salsa liked milk and Woshi liked honey. However, they could not drink what they liked most often because only the nobles could afford these things.

Someday, Salsa and Woshi went to a village near King’s castle to sell firewood. In the village, they saw an announcement from the king in a gold-coated paper.

“Competition! The Princess gets a dangerous disease. Who can heal The Princess will get a big prize from our majesty, The  King.” 

Salsa and Woshi looked at each other.

“I want to milk honey everyday.” Said Woshi with a cute voice.

“Yeah, my lil honey. I want it too. I also want to be a nobleman.” Replayed Salsa.

“Can we?” Said Woshi with doubt tones.

“Of course!”

Woshi’s eyes sparkled. “Then, Lets go to find a medicine to cure The Princess!”

Salsa and Woshi did not know where to find the medicine. So, they went to the edge of the wood. Suddenly, their steps were stopped by an Owl.

“Hey Hey Hola! Where will you go?” asked the Owl.

“We wanna go to find a medicine to cure The Princess.” Woshi answered.

“Please help me!” said the Owl.

Before answering, Woshi looked at his sister. Salsa nodded. The sign was enough for Woshi to answer.

“What can we do for you, Mr. Owl?” Woshi asked.

“I will go for some hours. Please take care of my food. This is for my kids.” said the Owl while pointed at a roll of green leaves.

“It is a caterpillar. You cannot make it die. A fresh caterpillar is my kids’ favorite food. If this caterpillar is still alive until I come back, I will give you some gold bars that I found in the forest a few years ago.”

Woshi’s eyes widened but Salsa’s eyebrow was frowning.

“Can we trust you?” asked Salsa.

“Of course. Then, I go now, bye!” The Owl left the caterpillar in Woshi’s hand. Woshi seemed happy.

After a few hours, Salsa and Woshi felt bored. They just sat under a tree. Woshi’s hand still held the caterpillar.

“I think the caterpillar needs some food.” Said Woshi broke their long silence.

“No, honey. He is already on the roll of a leave. It is the food of the caterpillar.”

“Then, why does the caterpillar not move even a little? Isn’t he hungry?”

“Really? Try to make him move!”

Woshi nodded. Woshi shook his hand slowly, but the caterpillar did not move at all. Whosi shook harder, but the caterpillar still kept quiet.

“We will not get the gold bar.” Woshi was frustrated.

“Is he dead?” asked Salsa. Woshi just nodded.

“We should find a new caterpillar. We must get the gold bar, so that we can drink milk and honey everyday.”

“No, honey. We should apologize to Mr. Owl first.”

“But, we won’t get …”

“No! Remember! What is our goal?”

“Get a medicine that can cure the Princess.”

“Good. It’s okay if we won’t get the gold bar. We will apologize to Mr. Owl because we could not take care of the caterpillar. Okay?”

Whosi nodded. Suddenly the Owl flew to Salsa’s hand.

“You two pass the exam!” Said the Owl.

“Huh?” Salsa and Woshi were confused.

“I am the guardian of the gate of the edge of the wood.”

“Too much of-“

“Shut up!” The Owl cut Woshi’s comment. The Owl looked angry for a while, but the Owl changed his character directly. “I have a right to make sure that only chosen people can enter the gate. The caterpillar is already dead. If you change him with a new caterpillar, it means that you are not an honest person. So, where will you go? I will guard you to the gate of the edge of the wood.” said the Owl calmly.

“The Princess gets a dangerous disease. We want to find a medicine that can cure her disease.” said Salsa.

“So, you can go to the top of the hill on the edge of the wood. There is holy water in a holy small jar. The holy water can heal every type of disease.”

“Really?! We must go there!” said Woshi excitedly.

“But … there is a guardian of the holy water. He is a giant. He will not let whoever get the holy water.”

“So, how can we fight the giant?” asked Salsa.

“It is easy. Just make him mention his name without mentioning it.”

“What is his name?”

“No, I can’t mention it. The name contains a curse. But, I will give you the hint. Leve, Twe, The Werld, get the hint without mention the answer.”

Salsa and Woshi thought hard while mumbling the words.

“Those trees are the gate.” said the Owl while pointing to two big trees. “Just enter and follow the path. You will find the holy water in a holy small jar on the edge of the wood. Good luck!” The Owl flew high leaving Salsa and Woshi who were still confused with the hint. 

“I have an idea of the hint. Wish us luck for this.” said Salsa and followed by Woshi’s nod. 

Salsa and Woshi entered the gate. They walked on a very long path. They were tired. However, the holy water was waiting for them at the end of the path. They kept walking until they found the biggest tree they had ever seen. Under the tree, there was a small sparkling silver jar that was sparkling because of the sunshine. Salsa and Woshi took the small jar. Salsa held the small jar tightly. They almost ran. Their steps stopped after hearing a big voice behind them. They were shocked when they turned around. They saw a giant with a grumpy face.

“Give back the holy water!” said the giant.

“What should we do?” Woshi panicked.

“Keep calm. We can pass it.” said Salsa, even though her body trembled. “Hey, ugly giant!” Salsa dared herself. “Let’s play a game! If you win, I will give back the holy water. I also will be willing to be your slave forever.”

“WHAT?” Woshi was more shocked than before.

“Keep calm. It is just me. You hold the holy water and I will play the game alone.” said Salsa.


“No buts!” Salsa gave the holy water to Woshi. She walked slowly to the giant.

“It is interesting. It has been so long since the last time people asked me to play a game.” said the giant.

Salsa smirked.”And this will be your last.” she mumbled.

“What’s a game?” asked the giant.

“Guessing words. I will ask you five words, you should guess the similar word. You have only one chance to answer. If you can answer correctly at least two of five, you win.”

“Deal!” said the giant.

“I’m gonna be crazy of her. But I trust you, my sister.” Woshi mumbled.

“The first word, go down.”



The giant was shocked. “Hey, it-“

“Second, inside.” Salsa tried to ignore the giant’s complaint.

The giant thought hard. “In?” he was not sure.

“False! Third, for.”


“False! Fourth, the world.”

“The earth?” 


The giant smirked. “One word left and you will be my slave forever.” said the giant.

“Then, I will make the last question easier for you. You should answer it fast. You should prove that you are good enough to be my master.”

“Okay, what is the question? Say it quickly!”

“What are your four answers before? Say it with changing all the vocal letters in ‘E’! I’ll count to five. One…”

The giant thought hard to gather his own answers.

“Two…” Salsa counted while the giant started to remember his answers.”Three…”

“I know! Fell En Te The Eerth.”

The sky rumbled. The earth trembled. The ground where the giant’s footing began to suck his feet. The giant realized. He saw Salsa was wearing a smirk face. The giant was furious. 

“So, what is your name my majesty?” Salsa sneered.

“Fellente De Erth.” The giant stressed. “Argh! I am Fellente De Erth. My name contains a curse. Whoever says it will fall into the earth. Even if I say it myself.” The giant blurted in frustration. “You! I will curse you! If you give that holy water to someone else, you will turn into a cockroach.” Said the giant shortly before his body vanished into the earth.

Salsa turned back his body. She looked at his little brother. Woshi ran and hugged Salsa tightly. Woshi almost cried, but after seeing his sister’s smile, Woshi smiled too.

“How do you know his name?” asked Woshi.

“Ouh, it is easy. Remember the hint?”

“Leve, Twe, The Werld.”

“It is other words of love, two, and the world. Love is often followed by words ‘fall in’. Two has similar sound as to. The world is our world we live in now, The Earth. His name has a curse. So, I think, the name should be something that can be real and it is proved. Fall into the earth. The hint uses E vocal. It should have a sense. So I think the name is also in E vocal.”

“Okay, I see.” Woshi nodded even though he was confused. “What will we do? We can’t give the holy water to the Princess.”

“No. We will give the holy water to the princess. If we will be cockroaches, so will be. As long as we are still alive. Saving other’s lives is important. Trust me! If we help others, someday, someone will help us as we did. Are you okay with this?”

“As long as I am with you, I will always be fine.”

They smiled. They had decided their decision. Then, they went to the King’s castle.

After a long journey, in some days, Salsa and Woshi finally reached the King’s castle. With the holy water in their hands, they were warm. They were welcomed by the King himself. They were proudly guarded by the warriors to the Princess room. They fed the holy water to the sleeping princess’ mouth. After a few seconds, the princess opened her eyes. In the same time, Salsa and Woshi’s body was shining before finally they turned into cockroaches. The King, who had been told by them, felt guilty. They were willing to take the risk. The King helped the princess to sit in her bed. Then, the King helped her to drink all the holy water in the silver small jar. Finally, the Princess fully woke up. But, the Princess yelled loudly in one second after fully woke up. She saw two cockroaches in front of her. She panicked. She threw the silver small jar to the cockroaches. The King tried to stop the Princess, unfortunately it was late. The small jar had hit cockroaches’ bodies. They were dead.

The King cried in frustration. He sobbed. He told the story of Salsa and Woshi to the Princess while his tears never stopped falling even a second. The Princess cried louder than the King. She would bring this guilty feeling for the rest of her life. To lighten the burden of her feelings, the Princess buried the body of two cockroaches that had been lifeless politely. The Princess treated their funeral like the funeral of a nobleman. The Princess also poured milk and honey in their graves.

The day after, a tree grew from their graves. The tree bore many fruits. The color of the fruit reminded the King of the skin color of Salsa and Woshi. The fruit had sweet taste, like a mixture of milk and honey. The wood was resilient, difficult to cut, like the character of Salsa and Woshi who never gave up. Moreover, the fruit seeds looked like cockroaches. While in tears, the King and the Princess ate the fruit. They also spread the seeds throughout the kingdom. To commemorate the services of their two heroes, the King and the Princess named the fruit Sawo, an abbreviation of their name. (Note: Sawo is the Indonesian name of sapodilla).


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