The Jason Hahn Files: Let's Talk About Ghosts...

"I wake up and someone is sitting on my chest and I cannot breathe! Lagi cannot open my eye or scream for help. I so scare! In my mind, I shout and shout! Den sah-dun-lee, he go away. But wah! My heart! Tum tum tum!"

The other day at breakfast, Sharyn suddenly observed how pleased she was that Ghost Month has finally come to an end. 

As comments go, it’s not the most head-turning thing the woman has ever uttered, but still, it did cause Amanda to pause her spoonful of chicken congee halfway to her mouth. 

Her eyes swivelled towards to Saffy, who merely shrugged.

Sharyn, who raised three children and therefore notices everything, noticed Amanda’s look.  “Is true what!” she said. “Every Ghost Month, I get visitor! Damn sian!”

Amanda put down her spoon. “Wait, are you talking about your perio…”

Sharyn waved her hand in exasperation. “Aiyoh, no lah! Got ghost visit me!”

Amanda’s eyes popped. “Like in The Nun?”

“Not so scary,” Sharyn offered, “but same same!”Amanda stuffed a clenched fist to her mouth. “Shut up!”

According to Sharyn, every year during Ghost Month, she gets at least one night of disturbed sleep when someone — or to be precise, something — physically molests her and not, in her words, in a good way.

The first time, she says, she woke up to the sensation of someone shaking her shoulder, as if to say, “Wake up!”

“At first, I thot is my husband or maybe my chil-ren, but den I remember, ay?, dey are all at my mudder-in-law, so cannot be dem!”

“Oh my God!” Amanda moaned. “Then what happened?”

“Naah-ting!” Sharyn drawled. “I keep my eyes shut and say a few Hail Mare-lee, and then he stop shaking me.

”The next year, she said she woke up to the sensation that there was someone at the end of her bed. “And den hor, I feel he get on the bed and crawl up over my body! Aiyoh!”

Amanda turned to Saffy who was still casually slurping up her chwee kueh. “How are you not reacting to this?” she demanded. 

Through a full mouth, Saffy mumbled, “I’ve heard it all before. Why do you think my bedroom is covered with crucifixes and Buddha statues? I couldn’t sleep for days when she first told me this!”

“And den, one year,” Sharyn went on, “I wake up and someone is sitting on my chest and I cannot breathe! Lagi cannot open my eye or scream for help. I so scare! In my mind, I shout and shout! Den sah-dun-lee, he go away. But wah! My heart! Tum tum tum!”

“And this happens every year?” Amanda asked. 

As Saffy later remarked, if her face had been any whiter, SK-II would have come calling to make her their newest spokesperson. 

“Some year, no one disturb me, but most year, got! Dis year, dohn have, but I tink maybe is because I go to St Ignatius every day for a month before Ghost Month and ask for blessing!”

“You know, I always thought you were Buddhist!” Saffy said.Sharyn shrugged. “I am lah, but I try every ting! Last year, I go to Kuan Yin temple for blessing. This year, I go to St Ignatius. Next year, maybe I go to Sri Mariannam!”

Later, back in the apartment, it was all Amanda could talk about. “I swear, if a ghost visited me every year, I would just die!”

“So would I,” Saffy said. “I know they can’t really hurt you, but still, it’s all so creepy!

And I love how Sharyn is so practical about the whole thing. ‘Oh, this year, I got blessed at St Ignatius! Oh, next year, I’m getting blessed at Sri Mariannam!’ I mean, seriously, that woman is my absolute hero!” Saffy’s eyes shone with admiration. 

A thought occurred to Amanda. “So have you had any visitors? During Ghost Month? You never talk about it, so I’m assuming all the charms in your bedroom are working?”

Saffy knocked twice on our dining table. “Touch wood, no! But I have to say that they may be blocking not just ghosts, but also potential boyfriends! I’ve just realised that I’ve not had any luck dating since I started putting up all those crucifixes!”

“I don’t think crucifixes repel potential boyfriends, Saf,” Amanda told her. Saffy was unconvinced. “You don’t know that. I mean, who’s to say that boyfriends aren’t really bad spirits? That last guy I dated? Tim whatshisface? Three great dates and then suddenly, he doesn’t reply to any of my messages. He basically ghosted me!”

“Well, I don’t have anything in my room and I’ve not had any dates recently!” Amanda pointed out.“Our rooms are next to each other. Maybe my charms are so powerful, they’re affecting your love life, too!”

“Wah lau!” Sharyn said when she heard this.

This story first appeared in 8 DAYS issue #1457 (Sept 20).

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