The Legend of Nai Raeng – Elementary Level
A long time ago, there was a husband and wife who lived in a small village near Pattalung on the northeast side of Songkhla Lake. They had been married for many years but had never had a child. They loved children very much and wanted one of their own. They asked God every day to send them a child. Nothing happened and they did not know what to do. Finally, they went along to the temple and asked the head monk for his help.
The head monk was a very wise man. “Take a small stone from the edge of the lake,” he said to the wife. “Put it inside a piece of white cloth. Then make your wish and keep it under your pillow.”
The wife did as he said and soon found out that she was going to have a baby. They were very happy. As the baby grew inside her, she began to eat and eat and eat. “You must remember, dear husband, I am eating for two,” she explained. But even so, she was eating much more than a normal woman having a baby. For the whole nine months she ate and ate and ate!
When it was time, she gave birth to a very big, healthy, baby boy. He was so big that they named him Nai Raeng, which means strong and powerful. And he ate a lot just like his mother when she was carrying him! By the time he was three years old he would eat a large pot of rice and around fifty bananas every day. He always seemed to be eating. His mother and father did not know what to do. They did not have enough money for him to keep eating like this. Things were becoming so bad for the family that his parents began to wish the unthinkable. They began to wish that he had never been born! He ate and ate and ate, and grew and grew and grew.
When Nai Raeng was about ten years old, his father asked him to go alone into the forest. He told the boy that they needed firewood for the winter, and that he must cut down the biggest tree he could find. He didn’t say anything to anyone, but in his heart he hoped that something bad would happen and his son would not come back. But Nai Raeng cut down the tree safely. Then he cut it into small pieces suitable for firewood and carried it all back to the house. After that he began to eat more and more. The more hard work his father asked him to do, the more food he wanted.
One day a Chinese ship stopped near the village. It had come into the lake from the sea to buy and sell things. “This is good luck,” thought Nai Raeng’s parents. They asked the captain to agree to give him a job as a seaman. “Look,” said the father, “he is a big strong boy. He will be able to do the work of ten men.” The captain agreed and the ship sailed off with Nai Raeng on it.
It wasn’t long after the ship had put to sea that the captain knew why Nai Raeng’s parents wanted to send him away. The boy was eating nearly all the food on the ship. The other sailors began saying that they did not have enough to eat. “The boy simply has to go,” they finally said to the captain.
There were many large fish swimming next to the ship. “We need more food”, the captain said to Nai Raeng. “I’ll put down the sail and stop the ship. You must jump into the sea and catch one of them.”
Nai Raeng did as he was told. But, as soon as he was in the water, the ship put up its sail and left him there. Nai Raeng could swim very well and began to swim towards land. When he got close to the beach, he saw an old broken fishing boat under the water. He was so strong that he was able to easily pull it onto the sand and set about fixing it. It wasn’t too difficult and after a few days it was ready for the sea again. He set sail for home and when he returned his parents were truly happy to see him. They were sorry for their earlier bad thoughts and agreed to take him back into the family home. Nai Raeng quickly found himself a good job that paid enough for him to buy all the food he needed. He even had money left over to help his parents. Everyone was very happy.
As the years passed, Nai Raeng became known for being very wise as well as being very strong. He was so well liked that he was asked to become Governor of Songkhla. This was a big honour and one that made Nai Raeng very happy.
One day word came that there was to be a great festival in Nakhorn Sri Thammarat, a city far to the north. Some bones of the Lord Buddha himself were being brought from India to be put in a special place in a temple there.
Every village and town in Songkhla sent money and presents for Nai Raeng to take to the temple. Nai Raeng decided to personally give 900,000 Baht in gold. He bought a boat, and he and his followers set sail for Nakhorn with the gold.
On the way north, a great storm came in from the northeast. The wind was so strong that Nai Raeng’s boat was pushed south. It sailed nearer and nearer to land. Suddenly a very large wave pushed it against some rocks. It was broken up very badly and would take a long time to fix. They would certainly miss the festival.
Nai Raeng was deeply saddened and decided that he must die for failing to get Songkhla’s presents to Nakhorn on time. He ordered his men to carry the gold onto the beach and bury it somewhere safe. He then ordered them to cut off his head and place it above the place where they put the gold. Naturally, the Governor’s orders were followed and so ended the life of Nai Raeng.