The Mystery of the Thorny Fruit

Posted: May 21, 2010 in Mystery, Short Story

OMG!  Time flies when you are about to make the most out of it.  I promised a story and I’m giving you a story.  I was inspired to write this story (not told or chronicled anywhere and the author prefers that this is not repeated in writing without her prior consent, and the author is  me!  :-D) after getting several bombardments and inquisitive FAQs from the work front.  Okay. Enough is enough.  Curiosity killed the cat, but did it?  You be the judge….

Once upon a time somewhere on the island of Borneo, lived a man named Tuk’ng.  He was no ordinary man.  He was a penghulu (village chief) and notable to many for his intellectual prowess and acclaimed for his enormous endowment of observation. He was highly revered by the village folks because of his rational and unbiased reasoning in solving the local disputes.  He was, I would say, a cross between Hercule Poirot and Sherlock Holmes.  The village people always felt safe with his presence.  There was peace and order until one fine day turned into a procession of frenzy and uproar. Farmer Regieng marched into the office of Chief Tuk’ng and explained his anger.  He was a victim of a series of thefts during the past weeks.  He needed the esteemed advice of Chief Tuk’ng to solve the case once and for all.  He told the Chief that he had been robbed of his golden harvest of the thorny fruits for the umpteenth time. He wanted the thief to be brought to justice.  But whodunit?  And what were those thorny fruits?  Chief Tuk’ng put on his thinking terendak (conical shaped hat worn by the locals of that area) while chewing the sireh (Betel leaf) and crunching a handful of sago pellets like you would, nuts. Hmmmm…… the thorny fruits.  What were they? The only definition that Chief Tuk’ng could think of was the “king of fruits”.  You know, the thorns?  Well, well, well, I think our friend, Farmer Regieng was talking about the most aromatic fruit of the jungle.  But wait! Smell is relative.  One man’s meat is another man’s poison.  Chief Tuk’ng had heard from reliable sources that some people from some continents miles and miles away were disputing about the smell of these thorny fruits, which were none other than, yes!!!! DURIANS (duri means thorn, hence durian means thorny).  OK, we now know what the thorny fruit was but WHODUNIT?!  Back in the village, 4 people were arrested as they were thought to fit the description of the so-called thief. These 4 suspects were the most well known night-shift critters in the village, whose ‘jobs’ incidentally, fit the modus operandi of the durian thief.  For some unknown reason, durians only fall off the trees at night, never during daylight. Legend has it that a durian has eyes and could see where it is falling and in that manner, people may not be hurt.  See, a durian is not only aromatic, but an intelligent fruit as well.  If only fruits have brains. LOL ! That’s why it is called the “king of fruits”, well known across the globe, yet untouched or unreached by so many and conquered only by the brave and adventurous souls 😀

The 4 suspects were brought to the chief’s office for an identity parade. They were Kenulat, Manek, Putak, and Temih. After a moment of silence, Chief Tuk’ng finally concluded that he would put the 4 suspects to a one-off test.  He instructed Farmer Regieng to place the 4 suspects in solitary confinement for 8 hours without human contact.  No food. Only 5 litres of sodium bicarb water ( soda water). Solitary confinement? Hmmm, that meant 4 separate cells measuring 2m x 2m each. No frills attached.  Was that all? No interrogation at all? And the soda water? It sounded all too bizarre but what the heck, that sort of stunt befitted the eccentric behaviour of the chief anyway, thought Farmer Regieng. That wasn’t the end.  Chief Tuk’ng wanted 4 diplomats representing at least 4 continents to be included in the test. The solitary cabins were only to be identified with numbers: 1, 2, 3 and 4.  No names mentioned and in no particular order. The plot thickened. Everyone was curious with the chief’s conviction and at the same time, itching profusely for a verdict. 

At the stroke of the 8th hour, Chief Tuk’ng beckoned the 4 diplomats one by one to his office.  Each diplomat had to enter the 4 cabins separately, after which, he or she had to annotate his or her experience or finding to Chief Tuk’ng.  The Chief held a stopwatch on his right palm and clocked each entry with precision. Ready, set, go! One by one each diplomat entered the cell in no particular sequence : 1-3-4-2, 2-1-3-4, 4-1-2-3, 3-4-1-2.  And the most peculiar thing happened.  Each diplomat stayed exactly 4 seconds in each of the 4 cells, rushed out and gasping for breath! Cough! Cough! Very interesting indeed, thought Chief Tuk’ng.   He had never seen anything like that before. Then he asked the 4 diplomats this vital question: Should you be given another chance to enter any one of the 4 cells, which one would it be? All four answered in unison to one particular cell.  Chief Tuk’ng became curious and reconstructed the trail of the test.  He had seen enough. He summoned the 4 suspects out of their cells.  

Chief Tuk’ng went through the scribbled notes of the 4 diplomats in a flash. 

Stench of decayed carcasses, rotten eggs, damp socks, stale vomit, vanilla essence, nutty, human faeces, dog shit, pig sty, onion, a bucketful of broiled kidneys, skunk secretion.

The Chief smiled and walked towards the 4 suspects.  He knew who the thief was.

Suspect No 1 worked as a scavenger

Suspect No 2 was a wild honey collector

Suspect No 3 worked as a grave digger

Suspect No 4 was a sewage worker

By the way, do you?

Hint: Death upon arrival.

Let’s have some fun and let me know who you think was the durian thief and why.

Have a bloodhound weekend 😉

  1. James says:


    I have been to South East Asia (Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Burma, Vietnam and Laos) quite recently and it was the durian season. I have read a bit about the fruit, how smelly it was and how this fruit is banned from hotels and airplanes. Of course I was curious. So, I had to try this fruit, what you all called as your “king of fruits” Lol! I tried the durian icecream which was Ok, but not my favorite choice of flavor. It was probably because I did not want to offend my Asian friends. Then they gave me the real thing. OMG! Seriously, I prefer rambutans and mangosteens. So, I think the durian thief is Suspect No 4, the sewage worker. Sorry, no offense


  2. Angel says:

    Strange, but doesn’t the bicarbonate-soda absorb all stinky decayed stenches?
    I will go for the suspect voted least stinky by the diplomats, cos that was the trigger for Chief T’kng to deduce who the thief was…
    Klopt dat?

  3. Ita says:

    What an interesting story! Thanks for sharing it with us. I just had frozen Thai Mon Thong durians the other day. They were surprisingly good. Now, back to the mission, the real Sherlock Holmes in this whodunit shall conclude that it’s the wild honey collector who stole the durians. 🙂 Reasons of which shall be revealed upon concurrence of the verdict. 😛

  4. Jacinta Sonesson says:

    I believe the thief is the grave digger because durian trees grow near grave yards 🙂


  5. Rick Bohm says:

    My friend Jacinta shared this story with me and I’m thinking the thief is the wild honey collector since
    the durian fruit is untouched or unreached by so many and conquered only by the brave and adventurous souls

    The wild honey collector must be a brave and adventurous soul hehe

  6. Dada says:

    Hi Che,
    Astrid will respond to your blog later….she has her own theory and it’s very interesting. And I think her answer is right on the dot.

  7. Jacinta Sonesson says:

    Dora, I want to add more to my first comment that why I chose the grave digger because he had the essential tools to open the durian, the cangkul !! 🙂

  8. Gerard says:

    Dora, interesting indeed. Love the local names and the adaption to the culture eg terendak etc.

    I’m giving a shot…
    A honey collector must be expert in climbing trees. The soda water is an important clue in this mystery. Drinking soda water causes one to burb especially when eating the durian fruit. Perhaps the smell of vanilla essence is a mixture of durian + soda water + honey, hence the 4 diplomats answered in unison to one particular cell. Just my guess….Suspect no.2.


  9. Nasifriet says:

    Very interesting comments, people 😀 I will not reveal the verdict yet ‘cos I’m expecting more comments… Da, I’m curious with what Astrid will come up with. The winner will get a story from me. Just let me know what you want me to write… cheers xxx

  10. Astrid says:

    Hi, Aunty Dora! What a great story and mystery! Just like Unc Gerard said, I love the local names and adaption to the Malaysian culture (melanau especially) ^^. Honestly, I haven’t really gather all the pieces to solve this mystery, there’s still a few missing links. Actually my theory is nothing much..more or less the same as Unc Gerard’s. Just to recapitulate, the 4 suspects were confined in different cells measuring 2m x 2m for 8 hours without food but 5 litres of soda water. Im thinking the soda water will make you belch, and so the durian thief can be caught by the smell of his burp. One suspect particularly stands out from the other 3 as he is the odd one out, the wild honey collector, he is not as smelly as the other 3! But, the 4 diplomats only lasted 4 seconds in EACH cell, so this clearly points out that the diplomats find all 4 cells smelly. Since the wild honey collector does not have such an unpleasant odour when compared to the other 3, he is the culprit for diplomats can’t stand the pungent smell of the durian! Later, when Chief Tuk’ng asked the 4 diplomats which cell would they go to if given another CHANCE, they all pointed to the same cell, which I think is the cell of suspect 2. But here’s the thing, the 4 diplomats pointed to that particular cell rather than saying that they wouldn’t want to go to all 4 cells, which makes me think that they eventually realized that the smell of durians is not only pungent but also aromatic. In their description, there are vanilla essence and nutty, which I think they might be describing the durians? Maybe a mixture of honey and durians would produce a somewhat vanilla essence-like smell and perhaps somewhat nutty? Haha, I don’t know! Well, that’s my theory, nothing much really, and I don’t think its right on the dot, like Ee Ee Dada said..haha! I believe a more profound and interesting explanation is the key to this mystery and I can’t wait to know what it is!


  11. Nasifriet says:

    Thanks for all your comments. I have received some offline ones as well, ie verdicts from the “shy” sleuths ;-). The winner will be announced in my next write-up, this weekend……….so stay tuned Sherlock Holmes!!

  12. cindy says:

    Hi, I hope I’m not too late in giving my verdict. Very interesting story indeed. In my opinion, the durian thief was suspect no 2, the wild honey collector. I don’t know why, but that was the first thing that came to my mind. I think maybe because of the sweet taste? I’m curious for your next writeup 😉 Cindy

  13. Nick says:

    Hi, I heard bats like to go around durian trees and suck out the nectar of the durian flowers. Since bats only appear at night and durian flowers only bloom at night, my guess is suspect number 3, the grave digger. Nick

  14. Ah Seng says:

    doesn’t sodium bicarb make you belch? So the one with the durain smelling mouth is the thief. I think its the wild honey collector becos durians are sweet mah…

  15. Hi hi

    Just dropping by to say hello ! So sorry I gave u the wrong email on my blog. But this email is the correct one, everybodyeatswell[at]gmail[dot]com, hehehe. I like your nick “nasi friet” and the interesting stories you wrote 🙂

  16. Nasifriet says:

    Thanks for dropping by Miss B! Just re-sent you the note 😀

  17. Dada says:

    as you know che, I’m the greatest regieng eater, sama macam mom juak….sampei bertengkar kamek duak, just because sik maok kongsi regieng ya. hahahaha…..

    ok back to your regieng story….why do I feel that the culprit is suspect no.3 (the grave digger)…
    1) durian falls at night ….. chun-chun juak the grave digger kerja waktu malam
    2) death upon arrival…..grave digger kan tanam orang mati….death ya maut, maut ya mati…..

    so my verdict is suspect no.3.


  18. Jazz says:

    I’d like to give this a go. As this is an Asian (Borneo) depicted mystery, numbers play a role. Looks like the number 4 stand out a lot in this story. 4 continents, 4 diplomats, 4 seconds, 4 cells, 4 suspects, 8 hours + 5 litres soda water = 13 = 1+3 = 4. The hint was ‘Death upon arrival’. So by putting all these together, 4, is the number which signifies “death” in the Asian (Chinese) language. I would deduce that the suspect is No 3, the grave digger!

  19. […] you have read my post “The Mystery of the Thorny Fruit”, you will understand why I am writing about one of my nieces.  Why or what’s so special about […]

  20. […] you have read my post “The Mystery of the Thorny Fruit”, you will understand why I am writing about one of my nieces.  Why or what’s so special about […]

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