This is a very famous folktale from Indonesia. "Bawang Merah" in English is "Red Onion", and "Bawang Putih" is "white onion". Both are the names of the characters in this story.
Bawang Putih was a name of a little girl who lived in a small village with her father. Her mother passed away when she was still a little baby, so to make Bawang Putih happy and not feeling lonely, her father decided to marry a woman. Bawang Putih's stepmother had a daughter who became Bawang Putih's stepsister, and her name was Bawang Merah.
Both Bawang Merah ang her mother were jealous of Bawang Putih's beauty, however in front of the father, they always treated her nicely. But since Bawang Putih's father was a merchant, he travelled a lot and often left her at home with her stepmother and stepsister. When the father was not around, Bawang Merah and her mother would treat Bawang Putih cruelly. Bawang Putih loved her father dearly, and did not want to break her father's heart that she kept all her stepmother and stepsister bad treatment in heart.
Days went by, Bawang Merah and her mother grew more hatred towards Bawang Putih, so they decided to chase Bawang Putih away forever. That morning, Bawang Merah asked her mother to cook her delicious food. The mother asked Bawang Putih to bu all the ingredients at the market without giving her any money. She even threated her that if she could not get what she wanted, Bawang Putih was not allowed to return home.
Bawang Putih was so scared and hopeless that the only thing she could do was crying nearby the river. Magically, a goldfish appeared in front of and her and it could talk to her. The fish asked why she was crying. Bawang Putih shred her story to fish, and the fish agreed to help. He asked Bawang Putih to put her basket in the river water, and just in a second, the basket was filled with all the food she needed to buy. Bawang Putih was so happy to see it. The fish even promised to help Bawang Putih whenever she came by the river and called for his help.
When she came home, how disappointed her stepmother and her stepsister were to see BAwang Putih had got everything that they asked. The next morning, Bawang Putih's stepmother asked her to do the same thing again; shopping without any penny given. Bawang Putih just went to the river and called the fish to help her. Again, she came home and had her stepmother and stepsister disappointed.
This made the stepmother and Bawang Merah curious. How could Bawang Putih bought everything without any money? One morning, they decided to follow Bawang Putih quietly. When they saw what happened, they were furious. All along, it ws the goldfish who helped Bawang Putih.
The next morning, the stepmother asked Bawang Putih to catch her a big goldfish in the river. She wanted to cook it for her daughter, Bawang Merah. Bawang Putih was very shocked to hear her stepmother's request. If she could not give the fish to her stepmother, she would not be allowed to come home and meet her father anymore.
Bawang Putih cried and cried telling the goldfish what happened. The goldfish was only smiling to her and asked her to catch him and bring him to the stepmother. With a reluctant heart, Bawang Putih put the goldfish in the basket and brought it home. The stepmother quickly cooked it and ate it together with Bawang Merah. Bawang Putih refused to eat her dear helper and friend. When they finished eating the fish, Bawang Putih cleaned the plates and collected the fish bones, and buried them at the backyard of her house. She was in tears when she said her prayer and apology for the goldfish.
Magic happened in the next morning. Right the place where Bawang Putih buried the bones, grew a tree. It was not an ordinary tree for the tree had golden fruits on its branches. All the villagers soon found out about this tree and together they visited Bawang Putih's house to witness the miracle. Bawang Merah and her mother claimed to be the owner of the magic tree, and were proud to admit so.
The news spread so far until the King himself heard about this magic tree, that he decided to visit the place and witness it himself for sure. Off he went with his soldiers, and when he arrived there, he was very amazed of the golden fruits. He quickly asked Bawang Merah and her mother to pick one of those fruits as they were the owners of the tree. But just when Bawang Merah and her mother climbed the tree, a giant snake suddenly appeared and bit them right on their ankles. Without any second, both of them fell to the ground and died because of their own greed.
The King proclaimed whoever managed to pick the fruit, if he was a man, the King would make him as his own brother and would give fortune to him. However, if it was a lady, he would make her as the Queen, for the King had not found a wife yet. Bawang Putih came towards the King and said that she would try to get the fruit for the King, because she wanted to give the King the fruit, not because of her wanting to be the Queen.
Before she climbed the tree, she whispered prayer to the snake that when the snake heard her, it quickly gave a way for her to climb the tree. Bawang Putih could climb the tree safely and get the fruit for the King. The King could see that Bawang Putih was an extraordinary girl. She was not only beautiful, but was kindhearted and humble indeed. The King immediately proposed Bawang Putih to be her Queen, and so she accepted it. And they lived happily ever after.