Skip to main content

It's only a creepy ghost story!



Kathy posted the following on her Facebook: "Nice cool morning ... but there was something (or someone) at the far right corner of the cemetery".

Several friends responded to the post and wanted to know more. Kathy, who lives in an apartment which overlooks a Muslim burial ground, offered details: "Caught a glimpse of movement when I opened the balcony door just now. Didn't wait to see more. It was just after 5am, I couldn't for the life of me imagine anyone being at the cemetery at such a time."

More comments followed. They mainly expressed fear, curiosity and caution. These reactions are consistent with the findings of those who study the phenomenon of fear. Admit it! Evil and horror are fascinating! The continued popularity of the horror genre -- both in literature and the movie industry -- bears testimony to this view.

But that will not make former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad happy. He expressed his dismay recently at the proliferation of horror movies on local television. Malaysia is trying to create a scientific culture and such movies, says Mahathir, only promote belief in mythical beings and would be counterproductive. "We, especially Muslims, should know that only Allah has the power over everything."

One would expect a man of science to offer that argument. But for many of us the fascination with fear is connected with a primal urge to understand the unknown. At night, danger lurks everywhere and there are mysterious lights in the sky and things that go bump in the night. Scary! Just so you know, I sleep with the light on.

Few can resist the lure of horror which dates back to ancient times. Events, forces or powers that cannot be explained by the laws of science have touched millions of lives in every culture. Stories about ghostly churchyards and cemeteries, haunted homes and restless spirits that have come back to haunt the living are the very stuff of myths (and literature) in all societies, both traditional and modern.

Frank Wilhelm, professor of psychology at the University of Basel, attempts an explanation: "Tension and excitement are often seen by people as positive, and in this context we talk of the 'suspense effect'. Besides this tension people experience when they come into contact with horror stories, however, there is another factor at work: the fear that is kindled in us by coming face to face with the supernatural. Notwithstanding that, human beings show an affinity with the "spirit world."  The first encounters people have with ‘spirits’ occur in their dreams, for instance when they dream of someone who has died. As human beings, we process knowledge and experiences on a metaphorical basis in our dreams. This is a culturally independent process. Furthermore, it’s known that if people believe a curse has been placed upon them this can result in major physical consequences ranging all the way through to heart failure and death." 

I'll bet you that Kathy has more spooky tales to tell. You can't stop people saying what they think.

The pictures above were taken in Shah Alam, Selangor during the 'hungry ghost' festival in August this year. Buddhists and Taoists celebrate it on the 15th night of the seventh lunar month. Devotees burn bundles of joss stick and paper hell money as well as food to appease and stop dead spirits from entering their homes and wreaking vengeance on those who had betrayed them. Photos courtesy of NST Photo Library.

Comments

Popular Posts

My year at The Rakyat Post

Dec 31, 2014, the last day of the year and the end of my one year stint at The Rakyat Post , an online news portal.
Educational is the best way to sum up my year at The Rakyat Post.
Leaving your comfort zone is intimidating at first; it has a steep learning curve. But now I wish I had done it sooner and the whole exercise reaffirms my motto: “learn, learn, learn”.
Einstein was spot on when he said, “Learning is not a product of schooling but the lifelong attempt to acquire it”.
When I left theNew Straits Times to join The Rakyat Post on Jan 3, 2014, I didn’t know what to expect.
Nelson Fernandez, also known was Mohd Ridzwan Abdullah, had invited me to join him at the website this time last year.



He was charged with assembling a team to provide content for the portal. And I am glad I said yes.
Switching from traditional journalism to online journalism is challenging, as anyone who had made that transition will tell you.
Editorial content is disseminated by way of the internet as opposed to pub…

In the waiting room

People are always waiting for something.

They could be waiting for the train, an opportunity, promises to be fulfilled or the return of a loved one.

But "what does waiting mean in our lives and what is life without waiting?"


That question was posed by Danny Castillones Sillada in his article "What is Life without Waiting?" (The Metaphysics of Waiting).

The passing of the old year demands another round of gloomy introspection and Sillada's article came at the right time, given the value of waiting in our lives.

"Waiting," he explains, is "an emotional and mental state, which is preconditioned to anticipate someone or something to arrive at a particular time and place".

Sillada tells us that there are two types of waiting: empirical and metaphysical.

The empirical form of waiting is "where the certainty of the waited and the occurrence of event are tangibly expected to happen within a particular time and place of the waiter".

But wh…

Why Shamsul Amri dislikes Facebook

People who do not use Facebook fall into three broad categories.

The first group is completely indifferent to it, the second finds it mildly irritating and the third dislikes it intensely.

Malaysia's prominent sociologist Professor Shamsul Amri Baharuddin is of the last type.

I made the mistake of asking Shamsul, who is director of the Institute of Ethnic Studies at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, if he was on Facebook, the social network which was hatched up in the dormitories of Harvard six years ago.

"I have a face and I keep thousands of books. Why do I need Facebook?"

How do you react to that reply?

I didn't. I meekly invited him to elaborate on his reasons.

"Facebook will take away my soul and I won't allow that to happen because I am a believer," says Shamsul fiercely, who launched into a tirade of accusations against Facebook.

Ninety per cent of the things you read on Facebook are either petty, bitter, rude or offensive.

"I refuse to rea…