For once when I flashed back what I had done in the past, I could really appreciate it would be extremely lucky for kids of old days to grow up in ‘one piece’. Having said so, kids today too have many other challenges.
One of my relatives, Sam who had learnt some magic tricks from a Taoist liked to invite us the kids to play with spirits as there were practically nothing better to do those days in the evening after dinner. One day, after dinner as I was sitting in front of grandparents’ house; Sam came to me with another 3 kids staying in the neighbourhood. He invited me to join his newly learnt conjuration skill which he said is ‘5-men conjuration ritual’ and it is very effective in calling spirits in the environment.
I agreed though I was afraid of ghosts. Grandma always said that the rubber plantation was once a battlefield between the Japanese Imperial Army and the local resistance forces, and many people died there. Even years after the war, human bones could be found scattered in the plantation. I certainly hate to miss this great chance to find out the truth. Under Sam’s lead, we quickly gathered the required materials for the conjuration ritual. Amongst those required items were: 5 empty bowls, 5 pieces of chopsticks, some candles, incense sticks, joss papers and 5 chicken eggs.
There was an abandoned rubber collection warehouse situated near one end of my grandparents’ plantation. Sam thought that would be a good place to try the 5-men ritual. So, off we went to the warehouse.
As soon as we were there, 4 kids were being asked to sit at four corners while Sam sat in the centre. Each of us was given a chicken egg, an empty bowl, a piece of chopstick, a piece of white candles, some incense and some joss papers. The instructions were pretty simple: each participant must chant mantra, strike the bowl with chopstick and burn some joss paper. Also, one must not let the candle flame being extinguished or the spirits will possess the participant.
After Sam made sure that we understood the rules, the game begun…
One person chanted: “The sky is hazy…”
The other person continued with: “The earth is foggy…”
Then, the person in the centre, Sam said: “Where are you my good brothers?”
After some rounds of chanting, striking of bowl and burning joss papers; I suddenly saw many soldiers in Imperial Army uniform marching in rows. They were led by an officer like figure. As the ghostly army procession marched passed me, the officer suddenly bent down in front of me making the gesture of wanted to blow out my candle flame. When I looked at his face, it was the face of a skeleton with deep hollow eye sockets!
It appeared to me that this Imperial Army skeleton was quite adamant to extinguished my candle flame as he had many tries. Just as I was getting hopeless and my candle flame was about to die off; suddenly something made the ghostly skeleton changed its mind. It turned its back from me and pulled his samurai sword. Then it pointed its samurai sword towards the darkness and its phantom troops charged into the darkness… After that I heard disembodied voices of people yelling, shouting and some bang-bang noise purportedly to be gun shots.
Since I was frozen with fright, I have forgotten to chant the mantra as required. Sam noticed something was not quite right, so he approached me and picked up the chicken egg in front of me and threw it onto the ground. As soon as the egg was broken, all of the apparitions in front of me were gone. Instead there was just darkness.
After the ritual, other kids said they saw some strange figures too but those were not as sensational as mine, at least I thought. When I finally sneaked back to grandparents’ place from the backdoor that night, my grandma caught me red handed. Of course, I suffered another rounds of scolding. For once, I thought grandma was scarier than those ghosts I saw earlier.