I don’t know about you, but I like fairy tales. I still do. Even after all these years. And no, not just because of the pretty, pretty dresses worn by the princes and the princesses, the grandiose castles—almost always looking as if they needed redecorating—or the heavenly creatures that roam the vast land endlessly.
And they make quite a bedtime story, too.
When it was still the ‘80s or the ‘90s, it was not too difficult to find “real” bedtime stories. There was that Sanggar Cerita cassette series in its thick, bulgy, white plastic casings that set it apart from other tapes. An older version of the series also came with the ordinary see-through plastic cassette casings used for the packaging of music albums and are, apparently, less likely to swell oversize to the brink of no clicking upon closing like the white plastic ones in the heat.
Another thing is that the bedtime stories didn’t usually come with a transcript of the story, and this sometimes (and only sometimes) has made it a witty bit frustrating for the curious sleepyheads who didn’t quite catch the difficult words inside the tale. There were quite a few “Apa?” instead of the glorious A-ha moments, as a result to that.
The collection includes an assortment of stories with a lineup of bizarre, if not freaky, characters. There was Si Kancil, a tiny deer in his attempts to find juicy, tasty cucumbers to legendary characters that are either turned to national treasures (Malinkundang was turned to stone), forced to marry (Siti Nurbaya) or just plain legendary, like the want-it-all Roro Jongrang.
These and other given characters with names the like of Putri Angsa Putih, Putri Kecapi, superhero names (there was one, at least, that included Superman’s kicks) and even pets, like Ular Sang Pangeran, have helped children all over the country get some quality sleep. These characters are usually flaunted on the two-fold cassette covers that looked really dandy, as if they were hand painted, each and every one of them, for that specific story.
Each side of the tape contains, usually, one story for the A-side and another one for the B-side. When you’re lucky, however, you’ll find a story that continues to the other side. When that happens, regardless of having made to endure the opening jingle twice, it sure feels more than good.
But that was before the illustrated children’s story books came along, before being “properly” introduced to Rapunzel, the Tweedle brothers from “Alice in Wonderland” or Jiminy the cricket. And before I realized that when you leave the tapes in the open and don’t play them quite often, they’re bound to grow fungus. And when that happens you just need to be kind, and rewind.