One episode that intrigued me was ‘The Work of an Islamic Healer Against Black Magic’, where you are seen visibly shaken, crying, in fact, as the healer is performing the ritual.
Yeah. The practitioner actually said some prayers, but I cried not because of what was happening. I cried because when he was reciting the prayers, it got a reaction out of me. Before this, I fell sick because of all these... disturbances. So when he was reciting the prayers, my body reacted. That wasn’t me crying — it was my body reacting naturally to the prayers.
The prayers made your body react?
This is quite a personal experience about being in the industry, when you have someone who’s not really happy with whatever you’re doing... long story short, I also kena lah: I have fallen sick because someone who was not happy with me, and did something to me.
Do you mean like a hex?
Yes. I actually fell sick about six years ago and I went for Islamic healing. I was told that someone in the industry was apparently not happy with me, or was not happy with what I’d achieved, so they resorted to black magic. They went to the bomoh (Malay shaman) and the bomoh made me sick for many years. When I was told to cover black magic as my first topic for Taboo, of course, I was very concerned. I know that I am not 100 percent healed from my own sickness. During the shoot, I also had to follow the healer to his client’s house to perform the ritual. When he recited the prayers, the lady, who was ‘sick’, started screaming. Because I’m not fully recovered, when he was reciting prayers, I started having the same reaction. It was quite an eye-opening experience. I thought I was just doing my job, but I didn’t know I was also going to be absorbed into this whole black magic thing.
When you said you were sick, how sick were you?
Back then, I was doing Manja every Monday. But on Sunday, I could never get out of bed — I would feel paralysed, sick. I couldn’t even eat. That’s how bad it was. And sometimes when I was doing my live show halfway, I felt like someone was poking my chest. It felt so sharp. There were a few times, I felt like I couldn’t breathe, and by the end of the show, my fingernails turned blue because of maybe a lack of oxygen while I was having my panic attack. Those were the things that affected me, physically and mentally.
Did you see a medical doctor first?
I always make it a point to see the doctor first. They actually said there was nothing wrong with me. That was when I went for Islamic healing and found out [I was hexed].
My skin is crawling. And there’s thunder. Maybe we should call off the interview.
It so happens that just as I was about to go on Zoom, it just started raining very heavily.
Should I be worried?
No lah, don’t worry. It just happens to be rainy season (laughs).
You also interviewed an ex-black magic practitioner in another episode.
Initially, I was very scared lah. When I heard about an ex-black magic practitioner, I was like, oh my gosh, he has fully given it up? So I was actually very, very scared to see him. But when I interviewed him, he was a nice guy and he has stopped his practice entirely. But it so happened that in his case, he didn’t do it to people. He came from a place where he was always very engrossed in horoscopes. He got so absorbed that he suddenly learned about black magic and he did it upon himself — he did it to make himself look young; he didn’t do it to people. That was the difference, so I was quite comforted in that sense. He was trying out for a bit, but realised he went too far and wanted to stop it. But it wasn’t that easy to stop. It turned him very crazy after that.