Friday, February 28, 2014

Ghost Of Difficult Labour (難產鬼)

Different cultures have different superstitions concerning a woman died during childbirth. In Malay culture, a mother died during childbirth may turn into a ‘pontianak’ or ‘langsuir’; both are a type of Malaysian vampire. In Chinese culture however, the dead mother will become the ‘ghost of difficult labour’ (難產鬼). This type of ghost always manifests in the form of a woman hanging a small bamboo basket with some joss paper inside on her left arm.


Below is my late grandpa’s story that happened during the Japanese occupation period which is about 70 years ago. During that time, people lived in remote places far and sparse to avoid harm from the Japanese Imperial Army. My grandpa built a small hut inside a jungle where he spent most of his daytime there and only to return to the house late at night to sleep. He was in his 20s then and if the Japanese army discovered him, grandpa would be sent to build ‘the bridge of River Kwai’ (死亡鐵路) in Myanmar. Labourers were urgently required at that time.


As late grandpa was also a member of resistance force against Japanese invasion, he had a rifle for his protection and hunting. It was quite a distance between grandpa’s hiding place and his house proper; since he had to travel late at night and at dawn, he has had many encounters with ghosts and spirits. Hence, I owed most of the ghost stories from grandpa.


Our story begins when late grandpa returned home from his hiding place somewhere just past midnight. As when he passed the front door of a ruined old cottage, grandpa heard the screaming sound of a woman giving birth, it seemed that this mother to be was in a lot of pain.


Well, my grandpa was a nosy person, due to curiosity; he stopped and peeped through the door seam and found an old lady was standing beside the mother who has a small basket hanging on her left shoulder. This old lady was holding a bloody meat ball and continuously squeezing the meat ball with all her strength. Every time the old lady squeezed the meat ball, the mother to be in bed would scream with great pain.


Grandpa felt extremely annoyed by the old lady’s behavior so without much thought at that time, he lifted his rifle and pull the trigger. It was a loud bang followed by a scream and everything was silent again. At this time, grandpa thought he was in trouble so he immediately flees the scene.


Next day, grandpa asked his neighbor concerning the mother and her child. To his surprised, not only the mother was perfectly fine; the baby was also safely born following the loud bang.


Grandpa asked the identity of the old lady who stood beside the mother’s bed but no one could give him the answer until the mother told grandpa that the figure was her mother; who was incidentally died in childbirth. No wonder old folk say that ghosts of untimely death don't have any compassion towards their kin.


More info on langsuir:

More info on Pontianak:

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