What then of ghosts?

I did write a short, short story about ghosts. They were shown to be malevolent only in the last paragraph. Refer ‘A galaxy of ghosts’ in ‘Pithy Perspectives: a smorgasbord of short, short stories’ (Amazon Kindle ebook at $US 2.99). It is pure fiction. I made up the participants in my imagined events – that is what fiction is all about – defeating reality.

However, a relative of mine told me of the following experience. For a few months, driving along a particular road in Malaysia, he would see a young woman standing by the verge of the road. It was always the same spot. Looking back, she would not be there. That happened in either direction. His various passengers and he reached the conclusion that she was the spirit of the woman killed at the spot; and that she could not yet leave the location of her tragedy (she would have left a few loved ones behind). Similar stories abound – about spirits not willing to leave the site of a tragedy.

One can also read about occurrences – in diverse parts of the world – involving noises made by allegedly unhappy spirits in otherwise occupied homes. Some people claim to have seen such ghosts. True or false? Is it possible that some spirits refuse to go where they are intended to go, or (unbelievably) are unable to?

Then, there is a most pertinent question – have people really seen ghosts? In pre-war Malaya, there were frequent stories of Malays (only Malays) running amok (that is, as if possessed) in their kampongs. They were often reported as carrying ‘parangs,’ a deadly cutting weapon, shorter than a sword. There were also reports of Malays seeing ‘hantus’ (ghosts). Strangely, such occurrences do not seem to have occurred in recent times. Other ethnic communities were not reported to have had comparable experiences. Why only the Malays? I recall them as a nice people, whose children spoke with a soft almost-musical voice.

When life is terribly harsh, and deep fear about survival prevails, could that explain such behaviour and fear? The human imagination is, as one knows, a wondrous facility, capable of conjuring up all manner of scenarios. Is the border between reality (as we know it) and imagined perceptions clearly drawn?

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