There is a stone on Air Manis Beach in Sumatra, not far from where I was born.

My mother made a practice of showing me this stone (which has more than a passing resemblance to a prostrate man) because it is attached to a legend of an ungrateful son who forgets his mother.

“Malin Kundang left home to go out into the world,” she’d say, “as I expect you one day to do. This is not why the gods punished him.”

She would usually pause, waiting for me to ask why.

To humor her, I always would.

“It was because when he came back wearing his fine clothes and golden jewels, he saw his ragamuffin mother and was ashamed of her. He forgot to honor the woman who had brought him into this world.”

I usually think of this story when making my vacation plans.

What Pegman Saw