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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A Mysterious Story from Pulau Kerto

In the late fifties and early sixties,there was a lady who used to hide in the Foochow Masland Church on Island Road. I was probably in Primary Six then and realised for the first time what it was like to come face to face with a woman who had become MAD. The local gossips had many stories about her.

Here is one version.

Right after the war, the young lady was married off to a handsome man who had some means from Kerto. It was predicted that the marriage would bring about many children and the lady would be well blessed by those around her.

However some years into the marriage, the lady would often "return" home to her parents in Sibu, complaining that her husband had been physically abusing her and treating her more or less as a slave,physically and mentally. Her children were numerous by then and she did not want to have any more children. She was even saying that her womb was going to come out any time.

But her parents, not knowing the whole truth, comforted her and sent her back, again and again.

Then one evening, about midnight, when the moon was at its brightest, she went to look for her philandering husband. She crossed a bridge which known be haunted and there she gave out a big and wild scream. From that moment on, she was insane.

Her parents did not know what to do with her. They just let her wander around. Sometimes she would appear at a neighbour's vegetable garden and start cursing her wicked husband, sometimes even relating frightening tales of her husband's exuberance and excessive physical demands.

The neighbours had a earful.

However something strange did come about. We, at that young age, learned that she could tell people that she felt a lot of peace at the Masland Church. So sometimes she would hide herself, if and when the church was accidentally left open, under the rostrum. But of course I never saw with my own eyes how people pull her out of from the rostrum, or chase her out of the church.

I had only seen her a few times when she tried to sell vegetables to my aunts in the shops. Actually those "vegetables" were just grasses she had picked. In those incidents she looked perfectly normal to me. But according to my aunts, her type of madness was not serious. She only had bad moments of insanity and good moments of sanity. But some weeks she could be really bad. However perhaps it was divine will that she never came into the primary school to frighten the pupils.

How she could cross the Rejang River in a boat, I would never know. Probably the boat people would just let her have a free ride.

It must have been very painful for her children and her own siblings and parents to see her become like a lost mad woman looking for something that she would never find in this life.

After I left the primary school, I sort of forgot about her until recently when a friend reminded me about her. We were saying that if only at that time there was some kind of counselling centre, how helpful it would have been for her and her family.

Do you believe that a bridge can be haunted? Do you believe that a woman looking for her husband can be mysteriously stricken with madness by a ghost?

Well that is probably a ghost story from Sibu for you to read about. You do not have to believe in it at all.

But strange things do happen.

5 memories:

AlisonBuda said...

My opinion is that the lady is not mad but suffering from deprerssion due to stress. She can recover through couselling!

sarawakiana said...

Yes I agree with you totally.

My friends and I think that there are a lot of mysterious stories in Sibu which can be compiled into quite a good book...but then there are a lot of sensitivies which we need to be absolutely careful about. WE may have to fictionalise them or change the setting.....these are just dreams...which may be lost in the mist of daily struggles.

AlisonBuda said...

Sarawakiana,

It would be good if you can publish the stories. Yes, I agree you should not mention the name of the people and have to alter some places name as well (just refer it to as the bridge, the river, the big house, the small jetty, etc).

By the way, do you remember there was a place called Long Bridge, somewhere at the start of the Lanang Rd. The long bridge is actually a belian plank catwalk (supported by stilt) over peat swamp.

sarawakiana said...

Yes I remember the Long Bridge. It was a mix of Chinese and Ibans and others. I have some stories about the people there. But may be I will wait awhile before I write them. I have some photos .

It is indeed a memorable place.

sarawakiana said...

I have some latest news about Kerto, about 5 families will be moving out of the place. That means will be very few families left.

Does any one know the history of the Ng Siang Hap Pottery ?

 

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