Friday, August 2, 2013

An Encounter With Mata Satu (鬼火)

Ah Su was my friend’s general helper who has married a Bidayuh lady from Sarawak. This gentleman frequently follows his wife into the inland of Sarawak for visiting his in-laws and also to collect precious jungle treasures.


I like to talk to Ah Su because he has a lot of information regarding native herbs and strange stories from Borneo. It was on last trip that Ah Su invited me to follow him to his wife’s village in a rural village in Pedawan, to experience firsthand life far away from civilization and to collect some herbal samples.


On arriving at the destination, we hurriedly prepared some food rations and some utensils enough for a two day trips into the deep forest; Ah Su wanted to collect some precious herbs while I just tag along.


We spent half a day walking to our destination and by the time we have collected some herbs, it was already evening and we decided to camp on a river bank. Ah Su’s father in-law is a good fish catcher, he can dive into the river and catch a carp bare handed. After enjoying fresh river carps as our dinner, we sat on the river bank and chatted until the darkness fell.


All of a sudden, Ah Su shouted, “Look! That’s the Mata Satu!”


I immediately look into where Ah Su pointed his finger. Indeed there was a ghostly orange orb lingering on the other side of the river bank. It is hard to describe the orb, as it doesn’t look like any worldly light source that I know as only the orange orb is apparent while its surrounding remains dark. Some more scientifically minded people say the orb is just a ball of burning phosphor; but the orb I saw seemed to have a life of its own. It just moves slowly and gradually vanished into the jungle.


According to Ah Su, the orange orb is known as ‘mata satu’ or ‘single eye’, but the Chinese like to call it the ‘ghostly fire’ (鬼火). When a person sees a mata satu, and if the person remain calm; then the mata satu will eventually shrink in size and slowly vanishes into thin air. However, if a person is scared and ran away; then the mata satu will grow in size and chase after the person.


My only regret is that I was advised not to take any picture of the mata satu as Ah Su is afraid that this orb will follow us back. I don’t want to make the whole group unhappy so I complied with their request.


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