Short Story: Chinese Ghost

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“I don’t believe in ghost”, I said to my father after hearing his childhood stories. “Does it really exist?” I asked. Father looked at me with a calm face and said “Well, it’s hard to believe but I have seen one myself long time ago. I’ll tell you next time. I have to go now. I’ll see you next weekend, Sara” he hugged me and left.

My father lived in another state of Malaysia, which took about five hours driving from his place to where my mother and I lived. Due to work reasons, my parents had to live separately but father travelled every weekend to see us. He loved to tell me stories of his past and because he grew up in a rural village, he had many interesting stories to tell about his childhood experiences. I had always loved to listen to his stories but I was not sure whether he had exaggerated his stories because sometimes I felt that it sounded too fictional and out of this world.

It has been more than five years ever since my parents were living apart due to work commitments and I chose to live with my mother in a small town called Taiping. A town which was famously known as the ‘rain city’ because it often rained and was acknowledged as the wettest town in Malaysia. My mother and I lived in a semi-detached house on a hilly residential area where we were surrounded by a little forest. Although at night the residential area was a bit spooky, I loved my home.

Everyday after school, I would jog for an hour on my own and sometimes, I was joined by friends who lived nearby. The neighbourhood in Taiping were mostly veterans or pensioners. Most Malaysians who had retired chose to live in Taiping to spend the rest of the retirement live and this was particularly true among the Chinese. I guess older people found it peaceful to live here for the reason of being surrounded by lush and peaceful nature, away from the busy city lives. Therefore, it was common to see the older generations walk or jog in the morning and late afternoon in Taiping.

One day, while I was doing my routine exercise, I saw an old man with a white t-shirt, white shorts, white socks and white shoes jogged passed me. I smiled at him and he greeted me, “Hello, how are you?”. “I’m good, Uncle. Thank you”, I answered politely and continued my jogging route. In Malaysia, we greeted older men or women by addressing them as either ‘uncle’ or ‘aunty’. The following day, I saw him again and this time, we stopped and chatted. This uncle whose name unknown was a retired businessman probably aged 70s. He was new to Taiping and he bought one of the houses near my home. I did not ask further where exactly he lived but I was drawn by his courage to keep exercising everyday consistently.

When my father visited me that weekend, I told my father about this uncle who jogged everyday, “I have never seen such an old man with courage to exercise. I think you should start exercising like him to live longer,” I teased my father. He smiled.

Tong! Tong! Tong!

That morning, the neighbourhood was noisier than usual. However, the place felt gloomy, I thought. “Someone just passed away”, my mother interrupted my mind. “Oh, how did you know, mom?” I asked. “That Tong! Tong! Tong! sound is the Chinese drum. It means there is a Chinese funeral going on now”, my mother explained.

Tong! Tong! Tong!

I ran outside to the gate and chased the sound. It came from one of the houses near my home. I saw many cars parked near the house where the sound came from. There was a big black banner hung at the house entrance with some Chinese characters written on it. People came in and out of the house. Some were wearing white and black clothing. Suddenly, there were many crows that flew around the little forest as if they were visiting the dead. This is the beauty of Malaysia, we lived with different races and are blessed with diversity of cultures. That day I had a chance to witness a Chinese funeral even from afar.

“Ouch!” I screamed as my mum pinched my arm. “What are you doing out here? You are not supposed to look at other people’s funeral. Come back into the house now!” I followed her. Mother had always had her own superstitious beliefs like she would not allow me to see other people’s coffins as she was afraid that bad things would happen later on. Every time when we passed by someone else’s funeral, she would quickly cover my eyes with her hands. Seriously, I thought that was ridiculous. My thought was back to the funeral I saw that morning and wondered whose funeral would that be.

As usual, I jogged that late afternoon. It has been two weeks and I had not seen that Uncle. “Dad, I was just wondering what happened to that Uncle. I think I haven’t seen him jog for quite a while. I wonder if he now decided to jog in the morning”. Dad who was reading the newspaper looked up at me but did not comment anything. Mother later joined us and said “Sara, could you please accompany me to fetch your sister at the train station tomorrow? It would be very early in the morning like 3 o’clock”. I sighed and nodded.

I have an older sister who was in the university studying law and now she was coming home for her university break. I was excited to meet her but hated the idea of having to wake up in the wee hours. It was half two in the morning. The place was still dark and quiet except for the sound of crickets. While mother was starting the car engine to warm it up, I was standing at our house gate. We did not have an automatic gate and it had to be handled manually. I had no choice but to wait alone near the gate until mother drive the car out from the porch. It was not entirely dark at the place I was standing as there was a lamp post opposite our house which was bright enough.

Still waiting and suddenly I saw that Uncle came out from the dark route, jogged passed by me. Under the lamp post light, I knew it was him and he looked up at me but was not smiling nor even greeted me. Surprisingly, I did not greet him too. Maybe because I was shocked to see him. He jogged into the dark and I had no idea where he went. “Quick girl. Get into the car!” mother said. I got into the car and looked at the car’s digital clock showed 3:00AM. Then I said to mother, “Isn’t it too early for someone to jog at this hour?” “Why?” Mother asked, sounded curious. “Because I just saw the Uncle jogged passed by our house at this hour”. Mother just ignored me and concentrated on her driving.

Time flew by and it was another weekend which meant father was around the house. During breakfast with him, I told him about what I saw on the day of fetching my sister at the train station. “So maybe he has changed his jogging schedule. Maybe now he likes to jog in the morning. But isn’t it too early to jog at that hour?” Then father said, “Sara, I’ve got something to show you”. With firm face, father showed me an outdated newspaper that he read weeks before and pointed at the obituary page. “It’s that Uncle’s picture!” I was very excited then I read what was written beneath his picture, ‘Our condolences to Mr Wang and family on the lost of beloved father, the late Wang Fa Chun…Taiping resident…’ I could not read more and felt the goosebumps. “Dad, I think I’ve seen a Chinese ghost”.

Picture source:

http://www.theworldofchinese.com

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2016

One more year has gone and I am trying to get used to the new year. Many things have occurred last year.

My mother has been diagnosed gallbladder cancer at terminal stage and she is still battling against it. I got a job as part-time private tutor and paid proofreading work from home. My husband got pay rise and promoted as senior engineer. Both of my brother and sister in laws recently got hitched. This was the summary of 2015.

Because I was too busy with family and work issues, I did not realised that I have passed the first day of 2016 and I did not have the chance to think about this year resolutions. But as I wrote this post, my mind has started to arrange some resolutions and I am looking forward to achieve them.

After a year of marriage, I know everyone especially my mother in law is hoping that I would get pregnant. I have been telling everyone that, my husband and me are into family planning; considering all circumstances, we feel it is best to plan properly in making babies. Yes, of course I am looking forward to be a mother but again I put my trust in Allah’s will.

Whatever arrangement God has made for me for this year, I pray that He provide me the strength and courage to face the odds and wonders of this life.

InsyaAllah.

P/S: Hello 2016. It is my pleasure to meet you 🙂

Reminder: Our Judgment Day

Many times verses in the Quran repeated about the end of world. The question is when will be the end of world? 

When the horn is blown once. The earth and the mountains will be carried off and crushed; utterly crushed. That is the day when the inevitable event will come to pass (Quran, 69:13-15)

The Quran promised that at the end of world, the deads would be awaken again for Judgement. 

 And they say, “There is not but our worldly life; we die and live (i.e. some people die and others live, replacing them) and nothing destroys us except time.” And they have of that no knowledge; they are only assuming. And when Our verses are recited to them as clear evidences, their argument is only that they say, “Bring [back] our forefathers, if you should be truthful.” Say, “God causes you to live, then causes you to die; then He will assemble you for the Day of Resurrection, about which there is no doubt,” but most of the people do not know. (Quran, 45:24-26)

I realized that people died more than they lived. The time spent living in the world commonly less than 100 years. Only those who were the lucky ones might lived few years more.
As a person who is still living, I keep reminding myself that a preparation for the day of Judgement is crucially important. I may not know how short my life is and I understand that this is a secret of Allah. 

God is the Knower of the future; He does not permit anyone to unveil such knowledge. Only through the messenger that He chooses does He reveal future and past events (Quran, 72:27)

Keep doing good deeds and improving myself to follow Islamic rules to be a better living human as for now and later. InsyaAllah. 

Just a thought: Dealing with Life is like an Experiment in Science

I could not sleep and was widely awake at 2:00am. My brain was running actively and as I was reflecting my past and present life, I just realized that life is like scientific experiment vice versa.

We prepared hypothesis but yet to know the outcome unless until we made the experiment which what we called try and error. 

In science, the outcome may be either hypothesis is correct or incorrect that there is a need for alternative hypothesis. In life, the outcome is either being upset or happy. 

Age and Maturity

It is commonly accepted that the older we are the more mature we would be. But this common norm does not really reflect the truth in reality. There are some people I have seen, whose age over 40 still not behaving at the level of maturity that I thought they should be.

It is very hard to define what exact level maturity one should have at certain age. In other words, it is very subjective and might depending on other factors such as culture, background, education etc.

The reason why I came out with this post was because I am quite impressed to see younger persons than me who I felt are a lot mature for their age. Looking at them remind me of myself when I was at their age. Although I could not remember at what level of maturity I was at that time, I was as energetic as them. Thought about the future, what career I wanted to have, where do I wanted to work, when should I be getting married… These were thoughts I had in the past. Listening to them talking about their future plans made me miss my youth age. How I wish I could reverse time to go through those moment again.

The fact that they started to figuring about what they are going to do in their lives showed that they are being responsible of themselves. I thought that was an act of mature and age does not count.

Poem: Faith

A feeling that unexplained;

People said it’s the light that enter one’s heart;

I have no idea;

When, how and where it came;

Religion?

Christian, Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism?

How many Gods to believe?

Is that faith?

I have no idea.

All I know it’s a feeling;

Calm, trust and belonged to;

The al-Mighty that exist;

The One and only;

Is that faith?