Malaysian Ghost Stories
THE LANDLORD’S DAUGHTER
In 1954, when my dad, Yacob, was in his early twenties, he worked as a clerk for a wholesale electronics firm. His chores were simple: deposit cheques in the bank, send invoices out, collect payments from his company’s customers, and do other chores at his boss’ whim. When his routine work was done, he would do some cleaning up at the office before leaving for home.
One evening, when Yacob had finished cleaning up, his boss approached him. The office rent was due, so the heavy set, well-dressed business owner walked up to Jacob with a brown envelope in his hand.
“I know you are done for the day, but I need one personal favour from you, Yacob.”
Yacob’s eyes landed on the brown packet. “Er, okay Mr Balah, what do you want me to do?”
“I need this to be delivered by hand to the premises’ landlord, Wak Kassim,” the dark, moustached man said.
While riding his bicycle towards Wak Kassim’s house, Yacob passed a sarabat stall[mobile tea stall]. He stopped for a glass of tea and nasi lemak[coconut rice with fried fish and hot chilli paste]. As he was enjoying his light meal, a beautiful Malay girl walked in and sat two stools away from him at the same table. She turned her face towards him and smiled. The good-looking clerk returned a half-smile. The two kept the smiles and shy glances going until it was time for Yacob to leave. He called for the stall owner and handed him a ringgit note.
“Abang datang dari mana? Tak perna nampak di sini.”(Where are you from? Never seen you here before.) the young woman said, unexpectedly.
Before the handsome clerk could reply, the stall owner disrupted him with his change. Yacob gave the sarong clad Indian a slight glare and took his change. Then he turned back to answer the girl’s question, but her luring eyes only made him bashful. In fear of fumbling over his words and embarrassing himself, he turned away with a smile instead.
Surely, I can at least wave to her, he thought and turned back. His knees wobbled as he looked at the empty stool. In a snappy turn, he faced the stall owner.
“Apa pasal? Tak cukup duit kah?”(Why? Not enough change?) the Indian proprietor said, sarcastically.
The clerk shook his head in quick, sharp moves and pointed at the stool.
“Dia! Dia!”(She! She!) He stuttered.
“Sapa? Sapa?”(Who? Who?) The Indian man flicked his head and grimaced in confusion.
“Itu, itu perempuan tadi di, di,di sini! Mana, mana dia pergi?”(That girl who was here! Where did she go?) My father stammered.
With his face twisting further, the stallholder said, “Tada sapa sapa duduk situ, lah. Lu nampah apa?”(No one sat there. What did you see?)
Oh God, did I see what I think I saw? Yacob thought.
Yacob hastened to his bicycle. With fear hijacking his mind, he found it impossible to ride; his feet kept slipping off the pedals. Only after several tries did he manage to move the bicycle and ride out of the area. He was very tempted to turn his head around to look, but he knew better not to. He rode hard and fast all the way to the landlord’s house.
The sun had already sunk behind the trees when Yacob arrived at Wak Kassim’s house. He rushed up the steps to the door.
“Asalamaulaikum,” he called.
A teenage girl scampered out from her bedroom and into the living room. As soon as Yacob set eyes on the girl, his blood drained down to his legs, his vision blackened, and he collapsed.
“Hey, wake up! Wake up!”
The young visitor’s eyelids slowly parted. A bald man with a round face was staring down at him. Looking curiously from behind the man was the teenage girl. Seeing the curious-eyed young woman, Yacob squealed and gasped, and struggled to sit up. The clerk’s hysterics was too much for the teenager to bear; she skittered back to her room.
“It’s her! It’s her!” my father cried out.
“Her? My daughter? What did she do to you?” Wak Kassim’s face brimmed with confusion.
“Calm down. Calm down,” came the voice of a middle-age woman. She knelt down beside the young visitor and held a glass of water to him. Here, drink this.
When he was calm, Yacob explained his outburst of fear. “I saw her—your daughter—at the sarabat stall earlier. She vanished into thin air.”
After hearing about my father’s experience, the Kassims concluded that the young woman he had encountered at the stall was a puntianak(vampire). It was unclear why the vampire had taken the form of their daughter, but it was a mystery which left the family petrified.
“Let’s pray together, all of us,” Wak Kassim’s wife said and called on her daughter to join in.
“You have to stay here tonight. It’s too dangerous for you to go out in the dark. Wait till the sun rises tomorrow, then you go home,” the landlord said to Yacob.
My dad was very lucky to NOT have engaged in a conversation with the puntianak, for if he had, he would very easily have been lured by her charm and beauty to his doom!
Kaslan 48, Driver
THE WALL CLOCK
I had an old, wall clock that was possessed. It would function normally, but when came midnight, the pendulum would stop swinging. All I had to do was push the glossy metal disk to swing and it would work again, but only until the next midnight.
At first, I thought the positions of the arms at twelve o’clock had something to do with it. At twelve, the longer arm would have to pass over the shorter one, so it made sense to think the friction between the two arms made them stick together. However, at midday, the arms would do the same thing, but the clock never stopped at midday.
I was puzzled, so I decided to send the clock to my friend, Mohammed, who was a veteran clock repairer.
After a day, Mohammed rang me up and begged me to take the clock back.
“A strange thing happened,” he said in Malay. “The clock, at midnight, started to ding-dong non-stop. I have to manually stop the pendulum from swinging to stop the clanging, you know? Then after that, I could not sleep anymore. I kept hearing click, click, click from the clock.”
His words tickled me.
When I arrived at the shop, Mohammed was looking tired and a little pale.
“Jam kau masuk hantu lah,”(An evil spirit has entered your clock) he said, jumping off his seat.
He told me to throw it away, but I couldn’t; it was my late father’s favourite clock.
I remember the day my father brought this timepiece home. He was so proud of it. He hung it on the wall and dusted it every day. He would wind the clock up at the end of each month without fail. He never let the clock stop, not even once. When he was sick and lying in bed, he made my mother take care of the clock as if it were a living thing. My mother, sister, and I found it peculiar that he was that devoted to the clock.
Although tickled, I felt a little uneasy after what Mohammed had said about the mechanical time box, so I left it unused for a couple of days. During those couple of days, I couldn’t sleep very well. I kept dreaming of a lean, black man with a huge club. He was pounding the club on an enormous gong which gave me terrible headaches.
I knew my dreams were related to the clock because of the gong. It looked exactly like the pendulum disk of my wall clock—only much bigger. Because the clock bore sentimental value, I couldn’t throw it away, so I took it to a Bomoh[seer].
The frail, old woman handled the wooden box ticker carefully, turning it around and mumbling something to it. Then she looked at me in all seriousness and said, “Yes, your clock is indeed possessed. And it’s a Jinn. It is trapped in this box and it is very angry.”
I asked her how the jinn got inside the clock to begin with. She said it was put in there by my late father. He wanted the jinn to grant him special wishes. In return, the jinn had to be fed and the clock, cleaned. My father had made sure the Jinn was fed and his abode kept clean as a ritual, but when he died, neither his wife nor his children carried on caring for the clock. The Jinn felt neglected and became very angry.
In retrospect, I do remember good things happening after my father bought the clock. He got a salary raise and my sister, who was unable to bear children, gave birth to a baby girl. Everyone was surprised, even the doctors. Yes, it’s true, many good things did happen until my father died 5 years ago.
Maybe the Jinn’s resentment had something to do with my wife’s miscarriage 8 months ago. I don’t want to find out.
I left the clock with the bomoh and didn’t want to have anything to do with it anymore. The memory of my father will always remain with me. I don’t need the clock for that.
And yes, things have improved since I got the clock out of my house. My wife is pregnant again.
Ali Osman, 35. Security Guard – 24 Apr 2003