Thursday, February 17, 2011

Two Sides to Every Story: An Encounter with a Spirit-Part I

Living and writing in a different culture gives you the chance to experience the world from a different perspective.  Of course, it’s what you do with that perspective that matters.  Either you try to understand it, learn from it, or you dismiss it entirely.  Two nights ago, my wife took her mother, a Bidayuh, home after visiting us for most of the day.  Before they even arrived home my wife suspected something was wrong because her mother, who was riding in the backseat, didn’t respond to a couple of questions.

Then when they reached her village in Quop, her mother, who was clutching one of her hands, had no sense of balance; it was as if she had suddenly gone limp.  While helping her out of the car, which she never had to do before, they both fell.  She was also speaking gibberish; my wife couldn’t understand anything that she was saying. With the help of her brother-in-law they took her to the hospital where they conducted several tests, including ct scans, cardiovascular tests, ex-rays, and blood samples.  After several hours she finally could speak normally again.  The doctors concluded she had a mild stroke, but it wasn’t severe enough to admit her.

The following evening my wife was chatting online to her cousin in Kapit; her cousin’s mother was on the phone talking to my wife’s mother at that very moment. My wife’s  mother was telling her cousin’s mother that she had been attacked by a spirit.  She said her hand suddenly started to hit her so she had to clutch it tightly to prevent it from hurting her. She was also trying to speak but the spirit wasn’t allowing her to speak.

Now before you start rolling your eyes, I asked my wife, where did her mother feel this ‘spirit’ came from, since she had been at our place. Our place, as far as I know, doesn't have any spirits.  I hope not.  As it turned out, late that afternoon, they had visited a sprawling nursery that sells flowers and plants.  The owner was telling my wife’s mother how she hurt herself.  She said she was out back when a spirit shoved her from behind.  She said no one else was around.  She insisted she didn’t slip or fall; she was shoved, and when she landed, she broke her wrist. 

After buying some plants, leaving some in the trunk to take back to Quop, they came back to our place, had dinner, and my wife drove her home. By then, she was not looking herself, as if she had been wiped out.  I just assumed that she was tired since she's in her late 60's.  Did this spirit follow her from the nursery?  Did it enter her body?  Then before they even reached her place, just a few kilometers away, she had this “stroke”.

Was it a stoke or did a spirit disturb her?  Or was it a combination of both?  After hearing of this other "encounter" at the nursery, and being highly susceptible herself because of her beliefs that these spirits really do exist, had she worried herself  into a stroke? Again, this is all about your perspective on a different culture.  My wife’s cousin’s mother, by the way, does have some experience in this area. She has a son who was found trying to strangle himself by a huge split boulder not far from my wife’s family home, close to St James church, the oldest Anglican church in Southeast Asia, and the adjacent graveyard.  Spirits have been sighted by that split boulder; people still go there to seek four-digit numbers.  Her son was taken to a bomoh, a witch doctor/healer, before he was taken to a doctor. The family and relatives concluded he had been possessed.  Why else would he try to strangle himself?  The doctors, called it a seizure. After that incident, he has never been the same, in and out of trouble.

Whether you believe in spirits or not is not the point.  If you are familiar with the Bible, and you take that as the word of God or as the truth, well there is ample evidence in the Bible where demons and spirits were driven out of people in order to heal them.  The Chinese here celebrate the Month of the Hungry Ghosts. There are two sides to every story; even doctors don’t always agree.  Again, it’s a matter of perspective from a different culture.  Learn from it, or dismiss it.  As a writer, as a person who has common sense, it’s your choice.  

As a follow up to this, while I gather more facts/opinions by interviewing her mother when she has fully recovered, I’ll relate my own personal encounter with a spirit in her mother’s house that took place 14 years ago.  Up until then, I had off-handedly dismissed such stories.  You can be the judge.  Again, I live in Borneo and many people have been violently killed here, on headhunting raids.  170 years ago Quop was nearly wiped out in one such raid by the Saribas and Skrang Ibans.

Here is the link for Part II, the Shadow Spirit.

***Here the link to my website, to MPH online for orders for all three of my books, including my latest, Spirit of Malaysia and for Trois autres Malaisie.


sintaicharles said...

I first saw a 'hantu' at the age of seven. A specter in white was drifting past me in the direction of a window. She scared the bejeebers out of me. I pulled my blanket over my head and drifted off to sleep inadvertently. I do not know if it ever hovered over me or not.

I have also experienced many bouts of panic attacks. When it first happened to me in June 2009, my mum asked her friend if a spell had been cast on me. Some friends suggested I go to see a bomoh but I did not. Many people recourse to witch doctors in a situation like this in Sarawak.

BorneoExpatWriter said...

Sintaicharles, thanks. Yes, they also go to bomohs all over Malaysia. Several of my former students at USM, the teachers in the ELLS program, have written about their own encounters for their first-person "significant experience" non-fiction narratives.

One mother described what happened to her son, who was also around 7 years old. It was like someone just changed his channel. She was with him when it happened; she too felt something was eerie when they entered a building. The doctors couldn't explain what happened and their medication didn't help. She had to get her son exorcised. It scared the hell out of her. More importantly, she got her son back!

This was someone I trust; she had been a teacher for many years before she went back to get her degree and took my writing class.

val said...

Check out the bruising of Satan Gen 3:15 his lies are now exposed he can no longer deceive us Rev 12:9 the woman of Rev 12 has now delievered the true word John 1:1 to the world, prove all things
we are all learning the knowledge of good and evil, the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compaired with the glory that shall be revealed in us, Ps 82:6 ye are gods and all of you are children of the most high

sintaicharles said...

Thanks for the extra information about the sharing. Many friends of mine told me about you. I got my TESL degree from UPM.I have always been weak in writing. It would have been great if I could attend one of your lectures.

BorneoExpatWriter said...

Thanks. A lot of students, or so I've heard, were upset when I left USM because they just missed out taking my creative writing course. At Unimas,the students tend to take classes with all of their friends. If one of their friends didn't want to take the course, or wasn't qualified, they all opted not, too. It was weird. Then we had these online registration problems that prevented anyone from registering, and that nearly killed the course! When I left, the let the course die. No one was qualified to teach it. Sad.

Some of the Unimas buildings are reputedly haunted, built on an old burial ground. A visiting Australian student described a rather strange encounter in their dorm, of a family of what they swore were spirits. They had four witnesses, one local and three Westerners.

BorneoExpatWriter said...

Just added this to the blog, after some Facebook feedback from one of my former Penang students triggered some more thoughts based on some readings about voodoo cases, how many die from the fear that they've been cursed than the curse itself.

"Or was it a combination of both? After hearing of this other "encounter" at the nursery, and being highly susceptible herself because of her beliefs that these spirits really do exist, had she worried herself into a stroke?"