Strange but true.
What is strange but true? It is strange because a lot of those who do not believe in the existence of ghosts like to read ghost stories. One of them is reading it now offering a cynical smile.
Before I begin relating my own experience, let us explore some other horryfing encounters, weird experiences and spooky sightings experienced by some of my close friends and see whether they are make up stories.
The official residence of the Johor Menteri Besar (Chief Minister) is known as Saujana. It is a huge double story mansion with a vast land area surrounding it. It was obviously built by the British during her rule over the Malay states. The design is very much attributed to a typical old English architectural drawings. It is situated along the road Jalan Hassan Al-Attas, parallel to the busy Jalan Yahaya Awal. At the front are rows of oak-like trees providing excellent shades during the hot weather but during the night the owls will stop by to say hello.
The early sixties is known as the ‘swinging sixties’ and why not? While Elvis Presley rocked America, Cliff Richard followed suit in England and soon the world youths emulated every things about their two idols. Then came the Beatles who revolutionized the music world with their ‘yeah yeah yeah’ songs. Cassius Clay became the world heavyweight champion changing his name to Muhammad Ali and boxing became a great sport. Chubby Checker introduced a new swinging steps called the Twist and the whole world danced the Twist. The world villains suddenly found their match in James Bond and many men began to walk like Mr. Bond and even smiled the way he did. While the physical world entered a new phase where technology brought in some relentless changes, the spiritual world from the other dimension continued their everlasting tricks on the human race even James Bond would find it extremely difficult to thwart.
It was the middle of August one afternoon of 1963 and Sahak (Ishak Hamzah) was on the way from Muar town to Johor Bahru to join his cousin Murad Hassan. Tonight there would a grand party at the Johor Civil Service Club and the two cousins wouldn’t want to be left behind. Sahak arrived JB town in the evening and headed straight to Saujana where Murad stayed. Murad’s father, Dato Hj. Hassan Yunos, was then the Menteri Besar of Johor. That night the two cousins enjoyed their evening at the Johor Civil Service Club and when the party ended at 1.00am, the two of them decided to have a drink or two before retiring to bed at home. It was almost 2.00 when they decided to leave the club.
Upon reaching Saujana, they both headed to their bedroom. Sahak proceeded to the guest room which was shown to him earlier when he arrived. Too tired to even change his clothes, he jumped to bed and snored almost immediately. At around 4.00am he woke up feeling very cold and with his eyes closed his hands began to search for the blanket to cover himself. He felt uncomfortable and the bed he was on did not seem to be smooth as he first laid on. He opened his eyes to inspect but to his horror he found himself outside the house and surround by big trees. Without wasting a single second, he stood up and ran straight to the main entrance and knocked at the door as loud as he could. One of the servants opened the door and Sahak ran straight inside the house and at sat the nearest chair available shivering to the bone.
Who could have carried him from his bed all the way to the outer side of the mansion with the entrance/exit door intact?
His horrifying experience was not new. Few of the Menteri Besar’s guests who had slept at the house had similar experiences. Although there had’t been any report of physical encounters with the spirit, there were many incidents of hearing footsteps, things moved on its own and lights switched on and off by itself. No report had been lodged as such stories were deemed nonsense.
Wak Wagiman (as I called him) was one of the gardeners at the Istana. When we mention the word ‘istana’ which literally is ‘Palace’, it does not confine only to the actual palace where the Sultan and the royal families stay. The land belonging to the Johore Sultanate is vast, thus anyone working within the areas belonging to the Johor Sultanate is known as ‘Pekerja Istana’ (Palace employee). For Wak Wagiman, he duties were to take care of the area fronting Jalan Yahaya Awal/Jalan Gertak Merah and fronting the Abu Bakar mosque. The Johor Zoo is located within this vast land. This land connects to the real Istana known as Istana Besar facing the Johor Straits.
During my younger days I was fascinated with anything mystic and through this passion brought me to Wak Wagiman who stayed at Kampung Melayu Majidee. During the day this fifty year old gardener worked within the land of the Johor Sultanate as mentioned above. At night scores of people would throng to his house for some healing assistance of which Wak Wagiman was believed to be a psychic or faith healer.
“The area where I work is the dwelling place of ‘Orang Bunian”, began Wak Wagiman. For my non-Malay readers, Orang Bunian is believed to be the jinn beings. (The Islamic religion together with the other two Abrahamic creeds of Judaism and Christianity believe in the existence of the jinn beings). “There is a community of Orang Bunian in that garden”, continued Wak Wagiman. Although he had never seen an Orang Bunian physically, he claimed that his communication with these beings was through his dream.
A young couple lost their five year old son while they were having their evening walk along the lane behind the Istana Besar. It was quite common for Johor Bahru residents to frequent the area in the evening and some spend their time jogging or enjoying their evening brisk walk. The frantic couple couldn’t find their son after almost two hours of search when they finally reached the police station. The whole night few policemen combed the area hoping to spot the child but it was fruitless. After the police gave up, the couple decided to pay Wak Wagiman a visit after a suggestion by one of their relatives. After all they had got nothing to lose no matter how stubborn they were for not believing.
He received the young couple who arrived at his house at approximately 9.00pm the following. They told him of their predicament while Wak Wagiman listened attentively. When they had finished, he told them to come back tomorrow night at the same time. When the couple left, Wak Wagiman began his mysterious work alone in his special room and after finishing he slumbered. That night he had a dream.
The next night at the same time the couple came with a great hope. Wak Wagman told them that their young son was safe and under the care of the Orang Bunian. It seemed that the Orang Bunian had a son of the same age and wanted to be friends with the couple’s son. Through his dream last night, Wak Wagiman had negotiated with the Orang Bunian to have the boy returned to his rightful parents. After a lengthy negotiation they finally agreed to return the boy as he really belonged to the other side of the world. They were to go the same spot at exactly twelve midnight tonight. The couple was speechless but hopeful. When the hour was about to arrive, the three of them together with the couple’s relative headed to the lane behind the Istana Besar. When they arrived slightly a minute or two at the spot, there was the couple’s young son standing alone as though he was talking to someone. When he saw his parents approaching, he waved at ‘someone’ and ran straight to his parents.
Along the way home, the boy told his parents that he met a good ‘friend’ who brought him into his big ‘bungalow’ and met his ‘parents’. They were very nice ‘people’ and offered him some ‘fruits’. That night the boy slept at the ‘bungalow’ together with his new ‘friend’ and the following day they both had an enjoyable time together. Before dusk the ‘boy’s parents’ told him to get ready for home as his parents would come to pick him by midnight.
They then headed to the police station to inform the police that his son had been found.
Wak Wagiman was indeed an extraordinary person. At one time he told me that he had even managed to catch a notorious jinn being and locked it inside a special bottle which was then buried in a remote jungle. That night after listening to his mysterious stories, I drove home and decided to pass by the site where the young boy was found missing. It was almost eleven o’clock and as I reached the area which was across the road, I stopped for a while and pondering how could there be a bungalow among the big trees surrounding the area? The bungalow was situated right at that spot except that it was not within our human dimension.
Kok Chai was an obedient son to his dear mother. He was her only child as his father had died at a young age when Kok Chai was ten years old. They both lived at Century Garden in a single storey terrace house. Every year during the “All Souls Day”, his mother would bring him to his father’s cemetery situated along the junction of Jalan Yahaya Awal and Jalan Larkin and they offered prayers. They both did this every year until in 1982, he continued this good deeds alone because his dear mother had passed away to ‘join’ his father.
It was a bright and sunny day when Kok Chai started his journey from home to the Chinese cemetery which was hardly a mile away. Still a bachelor at forty, he had refused to get married because of his great love for his mother. There were many people at the site of the grave with every family members offering prayers for their loved ones. Kok Chai stopped at his father’s grave first and after having offered his prayers he proceeded to his mother’s grave. A few minutes after spending his time with his ‘mother’ he decided to leave the place to have a meal. As he was walking towards the road, he felt a breezy wind passing by from behind and as looked backward, he was terrified to see his ‘father holding the hand of his ‘mother’ in the air just above some tree tops. His ‘parents’ were looking at him from the air smiling and disappeared after hardly a few seconds. It happened in broad daylight with the presence of many people, yet none of them noticed what Kok Chai saw.
Every time when I met Kok Chai during my trip to Johor Bahru, we would always recall the same story experienced by him. Was what he experienced just a normal hallucination or any form of optical illusion or was it for real? No answer can ever be found but such experiences can only lead many of us humans to believe that there is another dimension within our own dimension.
To be continued….Part Three.