Ex-journalist’s otherworldly encounters

IT never occurred to Kenny Boon that he would have a special ability to see a wraith upon reaching the age of 17.

Before that, he had heard stories about people seeing these ghostly apparitions and those tales did not have much impact on him then.

He was in Form 5 when he ‘encountered’ a wraith for the first time.

His family house was not very far from his maternal grandmother’s place. Their residential units were built on a piece of land in Bau, where there were only three to four houses.

“I remember it happened during the year I was sitting for my SPM (Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia) exams. I was out with some friends one night and got home at around 1am.

“My grandmother’s house was about 30 steps away from ours. From our doorstep, I could see my grandmother’s kitchen through the window,” he told thesundaypost in Kuching.

Boon, 36, said as soon as he alighted from his friend’s car at the gates, he felt as if he was surrounded by chills and then, his vision became a little blurry.

He thought it was mist, so he continued to head to the door.

“Just before inserting the key into the door knob, I looked at my grandmother’s kitchen.

“I thought I saw ‘someone’, but I could not make out who that was.”

Boon said as it was already late, he decided that it was time for bed.

“Still, it was spooky and I could feel my skin crawling.

“The next day, my grandmother told us that the traditional pastries that she made the previous day had gone sour.

“She would usually place an amulet over the pastries, but maybe she forgot to do it that night.

“Hearing about what happened to her pastries and matching it with my encounter late that night, I became more certain of what I saw,” he said, remembering that the incident occurred either in April or May at the time.

“It was not even the seventh month of the Chinese Lunar calendar, which is generally known as the ‘Ghost Month’,” he said.

‘Star-crossed period’

Traditionally, the 15th day of the seventh month of the Chinese Lunar calendar is tagged as the ‘Hungry Ghost Festival’ – also widely regarded as ‘Zhong Yuan Jie’.

For this year, it is today (Aug 22).

Prior to his first encounter, Boon, a Buddhist, had come across a master who had told him that he might experience a ‘somewhat star-crossed period’ in his life.

True enough, it struck when he turned 17 and lasted until he reached the age of 25.

“I’m not into the supernatural stuff, and I’m not a superstitious person, but I do believe that spirits exist.

“I had seen and sensed wraiths many times between the ages of 17 and 25.

“I did not see them like people with ‘yin-yang’ eyes (astral vision – the ability to clearly see a wraith) did. The wraiths that I saw were without clear features – I could not make out their faces.

“My skin would crawl every time I saw one.

“I never got used to it – what I did was telling myself to divert my attention,” said Boon, a former journalist.

His encounters with a wraith or two happened not just at night, but during daytime as well.

This peculiar ability did not incur much inconvenience in Boon’s daily life, as he had taught himself to remain composed whenever he stumbled across a wraith.

Making it go away

He did seek help from a local temple or two, hoping that he could get rid of this peculiar ability.

“The thing was the master whom my family and I approached had told us that this ability would go away in due time.”

Acknowledging that there was nothing much that he could do about this, Boon made sure to always have an amulet on him – just for that peace of mind.

“The master did offer some tips – to not be afraid, to keep calm and act like I didn’t see them. “Still, no matter how hard I tried, I could not shake off that spooky feeling,” he pointed out.

Boon also said throughout every Ghost Month from the ages of 17 to 25, his nose could sense certain odours even when he did not see any wraith around.

“I could not even find the right words to describe such foul smell, which would hit my nostrils quite frequently.”

Boon had not come across any other person who had this same ability, except one cousin whose experience was much worse than his.

“There were times when a wraith would possess her and when this occurred, she would become so strong that even an adult man could not hold her down.

“She discovered this ability around the age of 17 too.

“Because of this circumstance, she could not even go out to work. After completing secondary school, she could only work at home – making local pastries as her means of livelihood.

“Does this peculiar ability run in the family? I can’t say for sure.

“After turning 25, I couldn’t remember ever seeing any wraith, and fortunately, it’s the same for my cousin as well – she is now married and blessed with a kid,” said Boon.

Asked if there was any particular encounter that he remembered, Boon recalled a working trip to Australia in July 2007, where the organiser had put him up in a suite-like room, with no roommate.

It was winter at that time and so, he put on a jacket before hitting the sack.

“Oddly enough when I woke up at around 2am, my jacket was on the sofa instead of on me, and the TV in the living area was turned on.

“I never sleepwalked, and I knew the TV was off before I went to bed.

“Instantly, I knew something was off. I grabbed my jacket, turned off the TV, tried not to think further and went back to sleep.”

There was also this vacation in Kota Kinabalu a couple of years ago, where Boon went with his bunch of close friends – all of whom were aware of his ‘supernatural ability’.

They stayed at a chalet, where Boon noticed there was a ‘child’ at a corner of the room.

He kept quiet about it until the holiday was over.

“I have subscribed to the principle that I don’t cross the line, and so they (wraiths) don’t and won’t too.

“When I later told my friends about what I saw in Kota Kinabalu, they were grateful that I did not reveal it during the stay.”

Not letting it hold him back

Boon enjoys travelling and his ‘ability’ has not stopped him from exploring this planet.

He does, however, observe certain taboos during Ghost Month, like avoid hanging out at night, travelling at the minimum, or cutting down on non-essential activities – all to avert ‘any unwanted incidents’.

Whenever he visits a place, he would make sure to drop by at a local temple or two to hold prayers, wishing for a safe and sound journey.

During Hungry Ghost Festival, he and his family would usually pay respects to their ancestors before the actual day.

“It has been our family tradition to mark the festival before the actual day. We would serve ritualistic food and fruit offerings, and burn joss sticks and papers,” he said.

There was once when Boon fell sick after taking the food from the ritualistic offerings – he has since stopped doing that.

Traditionally, the Hungry Ghost Festival would have the devotees offering ritualistic food, burning joss papers and ‘grappling with the ghosts’ – a practice better known as ‘Qiang Gu’, where worshippers would strive to grab a ticket, which would entitle them some ‘prizes’ that they could bring home to.

It is said that Qiang Gu participants who fail to secure one ticket would be subjected to bad luck.

Boon said he had never taken part in Qiang Gu, as he believed that bad luck would fall upon those who failed to grab anything.

“When I worked as a journalist and covered a Qiang Gu event, I would bring home one of the gift bags prepared by the organisers, in line with my belief that it’s for good luck and peace,” he added.

-- Source: Borneo Post