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Tuesday, February 25, 2014
I Heard The Owl Call My Name
The Owl Call My Name” is a novel by Margaret Craven in 1967. It is believed that
when one hears an owl calls his/her name; death is near. Likewise in Southeast
Asia regions, any disembodied voice calling one’s name also brings death.
believe jungle and mountains are haunted places and they should be paid with
due respects. There are some taboos that whoever wanted to venture into a
jungle or mountain must observe. Whoever breaks these taboos may find him/her
trapped in jungles for a long time and this person may not return to
civilization again. Ali, my retired local forest ranger friend once told me
rules of engagement once I followed him on a jungle tracking trip:
must not horseplay on entering a jungle. If one doesn’t respect the jungle,
then the jungle will not respect the person.
is good to bring some offerings such as tobacco, pop rice or burn some coconut
a person smells fragrance or foul smell, he/she must keep silent as this means
there is a spiritual presence around. If one speaks out, then the spirits of
the wild may play a trick on this person and cause him/her to lose his/her ways
in the wilderness.
if one sees an apparition he/she should also keep quiet. Ali and I had seen a
white figure with long hair flown across our tents while we were camping in jungle
at night. When I wanted open my mouth to ask Ali about the creature, he just
gave me a stare and hinted that I should not ask about what we have just seen.
the person is in a group, he/she must address his/her partners by the partners’
nickname only. For the mountain spirits once learnt of a person’s real name,
they may steal the person’s soul by calling his/her name; with the condition
that the person responded to the call.
My late grandpa
was a rubber tapper in Kuala Kangsar, Perak after migrating from mainland China
in the 1940s. His first house was situated in the middle of a rubber plantation
at the edge of virgin jungle about half a century ago. I can barely remember that
it was up to the early 80s, there were no electricity and water supply; so you
can imagine how remote his house was then. Besides tapping rubber trees, my
grandpa also helped people to chop down trees as firewood.
visited grandpa and grandma, I like to sit beside them as they would tell me
their own experiences living in the jungle like environment after dinner. Well,
there weren’t too many things to do under the candle lights but to listen to
the grandmother’s stories.
gave me many advices concerning old Chinese taboos and amongst one is as the
above last point:
“Don’t answer to any
voice that calls your name at night, in the open!”
There are many tree spirits around the old
house. These tree spirits wanted to get rid of grandpa because grandpa has
chopped down many trees. So, one night one of the tree spirits came to the
front door and call, “Grandpa, grandpa! The mountain god is calling you!”
Apparently grandpa didn’t dare to answer his
call as he knew that was the tree sprit seeking revenge. Had grandpa answered
the call, grandpa would die soon…
people believed that a hospital is another place that one shouldn’t answer to
any disembodied call as there are too many dead souls in any hospitals that
want to seek a ‘replacement body’ (替身). Similarly, that explains why all
those who committed suicide by falling from buildings would fall to death at
the same spot.
is one of my customers and she has told me her own experience after surviving
the enchantment of death:
My hubby, Wong was in debt for a few millions
after a bad business investment. At the same time, I had fallen ill and
bedridden in a hospital. The living of the whole family depended on my daughter
alone. I wanted to die in the hope to relieve my daughter’s burden.
One night, I was flip and turn in my bed and
just couldn’t fall asleep. Suddenly I heard a voice calling my name. I answered
and I automatically got out of my bed and walked towards the direction of the
call where I saw a young lady was waving her hands at me. So I just walked
straight at her.
At the same time, the scene of debtors,
daughter crying, voices scolding me and blaming me for causing difficulties to
my family; if I die, then their burden would be alleviated and they would also
get a handsome payment from insurance…
I could only feel that there was a cold breeze
indicating that as if I was at a certain height. The young lady as if floated
in the mid air continued to tell me, “If you jump down, all your problems would
be solved. Only if you jump down, all the troubles would be gone; only if you
Though I wasn’t myself, I continue to walk
Suddenly, a cleaner yanked me down from the
edge of the roof, at that time I was just a step away from falling to my death!
Had it not for the cleaner, I would have been
the 3rd person falling on the same spot!”