It was almost two o’clock in the morning sometime in the year 1962, four friends were cycling home after watching a late night movie at the Rex cinema. Those days the Rex cinema screened midnight movies quite often. It normally began at 12 midnight and ended around 1.30am. The night was chilly and occasionally the sudden gush of the morning wind could be felt passing by. Not far away could be heard the continuous howling of dogs. They reached the first house and bade goodbye to the first friend and the three continued cycling to the next house. Ahead of them were rows of old and tall trees with the branches covering every piercing light provided by the dimly street lights. They had to pass the passage and it was like passing through a dark tunnel with no end. As they reached the dark passage, each one of them began chanting some verses of the Quran believing that their chants could shield any unwanted whispering of the dark. It was quite a long stretch and as they reached its end, there were faces of great relief. Few yards away was the house of the second friend and as they parted, the two continued for home. This time the two would not part with each other because cycling home alone at two in the morning in Muar town was unthinkable. Either one would sleep at the house of the other and would only proceed home at the dawn of the day. Among these four, I was one of them.
The four of us did not cycle in the middle of a jungle, we were cycling within the housing areas of Muar town. By midnight the town would be completely silent unless if Wak Chad the whistler was still cycling home. Now you can understand why Wak Chad whistled loudly while cycling home alone. Like everyone else, he was always scared if suddenly a white ghostly figure would appear out of the blue and therefore whistling as loud as he could would at least kept him company.
Why are we scared of the dark? Was it because of our childhood indoctrination of the unseen world by our parents that contributed to our fear? Do such things really exist but if they don’t, why are we still hearing tales of inexplicable happenings? Since time immemorial events have occurred that have caused many of us with puzzlement. The sightings of strange figures and peculiar expriences have all added to the ever increasing data on mystery. As we increase our knowledge and understanding of our own dimension, things are constantly happening to outwit and mystify us. Even with the advance technology rolling back the frontiers of knowledge, there are still many questions that remain unanswered and Muar town of my time had left quite a number of unexplained happenings still left unanswered and remain a mystery till this day.
It was on one Thursay evening after dinner that I first saw strange sightings of flying objects coming from the north slightly below the clouds that would later gravitated me towards learning more of the unseen world. Anyway, after these objects disappeared from sight, I saw another one this time coming from the south. I called my elder cousin Kak Shidah who stayed right beside our house. When she came out running, the object was still visible and she immediately shouted “tuju tuju”. Strange but true, the object immediately vanished the moment the words “tuju tuju” were hurled at. Kak Shidah told me that the next time I see this kind of ‘unidentified flying object’ just shout the words “tuju tuju” and it will disperse and disappear into the air, just like being deactivated. What is a “tuju tuju?”
Without the slightest doubt it is a kind of sorcery or withcraft. According to some old folks, it is designed to target a specific victim for personal reason and the reason could be anything but evil. To begin with, the bomoh (witch doctor) will get an egg and poked some needles inside the egg. He will then chant a certain mantra and mention the name of the victim and blow the egg. He will then let the egg loose and the egg will fly like a ball of fire targeting the victim just like a missile. As it reaches the victim, it will disperse and becomes invisible but the evil spirit that resides in the egg will possess the victim. In most cases the victim will become hysterical.
A “tuju tuju” can be ‘detonated’ by mentioning its name the moment you see one. I have personally witnessed few of these evil “tuju tuju” disappeared out of thin air upon mentioning its name and many who witnessed with me are still around to testify.
Every night after dinner, we would sit at the tembok and watched for “tuju tuju” to appear and you won’t believe me if I tell you these “tuju tuju” kept appearing almost every half an hour. I guess we had save quite a number of would be victims but we could not be staying awake all night just to keep a watch on these “tuju tuju”.
Muar town of my time are full of spooky tales that make it hard for me to explain. How can I disbelieve when the house that I grew in was itself entrenched with horrendous phenomena? There was one night while I was reading when the room light went off by itself with the clicking sound of the switch could be heard clearly. When I stood up, I heard another clicking sound and the light was on. How do you explain seeing a moving human shadow with nobody else inside your room except yourself?
Those who believe they have seen a ghost are always upset or disturbed by their eerie experience but for me I have come to terms with it. There are many other encounters that are more than just a mere fright in the night. Did they really see what they saw? What are the forces behind such apparitions? Are they proof of an unkown dimension or are they simply an optical illusion or hallucination? Let me tell you a true story told to me by my classmate but I have to create a fictitious name instead. It is a story shrouded with mystery.
It was in 1965 in one April afternoon. Harun had to go to the usual Chinese traditional herbal shop to get the medicine for his ailing mother as her stock was empty. She needed it very urgently and Harun had better not waste any time. That day it was drizzling but that would not hinder his determination for the love of his mother was without limit. He cycled as fast as he could and undeterred by the drizzles from the sky he reached the shop twenty minutes later. He wasted no time and left immediately for home after getting the supply.
On the way home as he reached the junction to his house, he saw his father cycling towards his direction. When their eyes met, Harun greeted his father and showed him the medicine he had just bought for his mother and his father smiled and nodded while continuing cycling. When he arrived home, he thought he was too late because he saw his two elder sisters crying at the stairs of the house. He rushed towards her mother’s bedroom to verify for himself and as he entered there was his mother also crying. On the bed was the body of his father who had just passed away minutes ago. He stood dumbfounded at the side of the bed where the body of his father laid. He kept it a secret for a few days and told his mother of his experience later when his curiosity could no longer contain.
Few other inexplicable events happened during my time had become today’s folklores with no evidence to substantiate. Earlier sometime in the late fifties there was a rumour circulating that the wife of a known person died immediately after giving birth and returned home from her grave the same night to see her baby. It spread like wild fire and the next few weeks, night life in most housing areas were quiet with most staying indoors. Sometime the rumour began to exaggerate in a worsen scenario with some telling tales of seeing a white figure flying above the rooftops and few others spreading stories of an encounter with the dead woman walking alone in the middle of the night holding a ‘baby’.
On another occasion was the rumour of a flying coffin returning home after midnight. Many theories began to surface on the reason for its return. For whatever it was, the creator of this rumour succeeded in his attempt with full marks. We could never find a lone cyclist at night for weeks.
Ghostly description too was of various shapes. There was this ‘hantu galah’ that was very dark and could grow higher and higher, there was a ‘hantu bungkus’ that would roll over its body to become bigger and bigger and the common description of an ugly woman with long uncombed hair we all called ‘pontianak’. Of course we will never forget the terrible ‘hantu penanggal’ flying with only half of its body looking for blood to drink. Whether all these descriptions were fictitious or not, one thing is almost sure was none of whom I knew had met these ghosts face to face. I wonder whether today’s generations of Muar town still believe in these spooky tales.
In the area where I lived there was a place we called ‘Kebun Tuanku’ situated at the northern tip of Jalan Juned which is within the Tanjung vicinity. According to some old folks, this was the place the Japanese beheaded many Chinese and even Malays whom they believed betrayed them. Almost every night after midnight, wailing and crying voices could be heard. Whenever I spent the night at my grandmother’s house which was situated within walking distance from this place, I would never dare to stay outdoor for too long. I wonder whether this place still exist, maybe some of my Muar contemporaries who are still living in Muar town can give some hints.
Spooky tales are not only heard in the remote villages, even in the urban areas we still hear many unexplained happenings that will continue to mystify us. My cousin Aziz Mak Anggor was cycling towards my house one night and as he approached nearer, he could see some humanly figures seating at the tembok. He had with him two packets of Mee Bandung wrapped with areca palm leaves (daun pelepah pinang). Thinking that these figures were friends including me, he proceeded and as he reached the tembok, there was nobody at sight. Trembling with fear, he cycled back as fast as he could and stopped at a house stayed by another friend named Sheikh Ibrahim and apparently I was in this house playing our acoustic guitars. He was as pale as a sheet of white cloth and so we obviously asked him what had happened to him? When he related his experience, the two of us decided to accompany him to verify and so the three of us cycled to my house. As we approached nearer, indeed we did see shadowy figures seating on the tembok. We stopped for a moment and then decided to brave ourselves to proceed. As we passed the tembok it was clear with nobody at sight. Without even discussing, our instinct immediately made us to peddle as fast as we could back to Yem’s house and so obviously that night Aziz and me slept at Yem’s house. In spite of our fright, at least we enjoyed our Mee Bandung.
As for me I had no other choice but to stay in this house. When both my grandparents passed away, the only occupants were my little sister Raha and me but we were lucky to have an auntie living right next door and some of her children stayed in this house. There were many other smaller incidents when I heard voices, foot-steps and even glimpses of untraceable figure passing by.
When you have finished reading this article, you might remember a time when you have experienced the paranormal yourself. No matter how spooky these tales are, almost everyone likes a ghost story, perhaps we have walked in some remote village areas or even in a modern environment and had a feeling that we are not alone. So don’t read this in the middle of the night alone, there may be someone you suddenly sensed is watching over you.