An Eerie Tale for Mother’s Day

My mother Kim Moy told many stories about her encounters with ghosts. Believing in the supernatural isn’t at all unusual in Singapore and Malaysia, the two countries in which she lived.

Mom’s ghostly tales inspired me to write my own. This Mother’s Day, I thought I would share one of her stories. This one occurred during the Japanese Occupation of Malaya, as Malaysia was then called. My mother was a teenager at the time.

The Imperial Japanese Army started its invasion of Malaya in December 1941. The troops landed their boats in the northeastern part of the country and advanced southwards. The Japanese gained full control of Malaya when the British military forces surrendered at Singapore in February 1942. The occupation lasted until 1945.

My mother lived with her family near Taiping, a small town in northwest Malaya. A small garrison of Japanese soldiers was stationed at the town during the occupation.

One night, Mom had a dream about one of her older sisters. The sister had died a few years earlier in childbirth. My mother was cycling in the dream. She saw her sister standing in the grass at the side of the road. The sister beckoned and called, trying to get my mother to come over to her.

My mother was terrified because she knew her sister was dead. She refused to stop, peddling furiously until she could no longer hear her sister’s voice.

Mom had to run an errand the next day. She was cycling to town when she saw Japanese soldiers rounding up men from the surrounding villages. A soldier stopped her and told her to get off her bike. It so happened that a village elder—a man who was on friendly terms with my grandfather—recognized my mother. He went to the soldier and spoke with him. Mom never found out what the man said, but the soldier allowed her to get back on her bike and cycle away.

According to my mother, the villagers who were rounded up were never seen again. She believed her dream about her sister was prophetic. She would have suffered the same fate had she stopped cycling in the dream and joined her sister.

This story never fails to send a chill through me.

Wishing everyone a Happy Mother’s Day!


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