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The Boy In The Red Vest

 

My mother has a theory that the "sight", for want of a better word, most likely stems from the "exotic" Thai side of Grandma's family. However, that ability may also have come from Grandpa's side of the equation.

I never had the privilege of knowing my paternal grandfather. When I was six, I asked Dad about Grandpa or "Ah Kong" (pronounced "a-gung" in Hokkien). In a rare moment of nostalgia, Dad shared this memory with me.

So here is Grandpa's experience.

It was probably during the 1940s when Grandma packed her bags and took her three girls and youngest son (my Fifth Uncle was still a baby then), and left for Singapore. Grandpa, with the four older boys, remained in Georgetown, on Penang Island, West Malaysia. Penang is a northern state of the Malaysian peninsula, just below the state of Ipoh, which in turn sits on the Malaysian-Thai border. My father's family are Peranakan (nonya), Straits-born Chinese, a unique heritage that is a blend of Chinese and Malay, plus a bit of Thai thrown into the mix from Grandma's mother.

Dad was the second oldest of the boys; I can't remember how old he was at the time - perhaps between eight to ten years? But from a very young age, he and his brothers were quite independent and could already be trusted to fend for themselves. They knew the basic rules their father had drilled into them: keep the house clean, do your homework, don't fight among yourselves, look after each other and stay indoors after dark.

Grandpa taught at the local village school where he kept long hours, planning lessons, marking papers or providing extra tutoring for students who needed it. On many occasions, he would be returning home just when the sun had started to sink below the horizon.

Home was a one-bedroom place that used to be a garage or workshop. It was a square building, with walls cobbled together out of thin planks of wood and a flimsy roof made from corrugated iron. It was sparsely furnished and times were hard. They often had to make do with whatever they could scrounge from friends and neighbours. But Dad never complained about his childhood. On the rare occasions he spoke of his father, his face would light up with remembered pleasure.

As Grandpa made his way home late one afternoon, he had to pass the large monsoon drain that ran beside the row of makeshift dwellings where he and his neighbours called home. The drain was dangerous during monsoon season, rapidly filling up with rushing water whenever it rained. He always reminded his boys to take care whenever they played outside at the front of the house.

He had almost made it home and was within sight of the front door when he caught a flash of red out of the corner of his eye. Turning sharply around, he saw a little boy about three or four years running around barefoot on the dusty dirt path. The boy's hair was cropped very short and all he had on was an embroidered red vest.

In the fading light, Grandpa thought one of his younger boys had snuck outside to find mischief. He was very annoyed that one of his strictest rules was being blatantly disobeyed.

"Why aren't you inside?" he demanded sternly of the boy in Hokkien. "What do you think you are you doing, running around wearing only just that? Where are your shoes and why aren't you wearing pants?"

At the sound of his voice, the little boy scampered off, flashing his little bare behind most cheekily and then vanishing right before his eyes. Grandpa stormed home, too furious at the time to notice anything out of the ordinary.

The minute he came through the front door, he opened his mouth to reprimand Dad and my First Uncle, who as the two oldest were responsible for the safety of their younger brothers. Midway through his lecture, he stopped short -

Four pairs of very wide, startled eyes gazed back at him. He did a quick head count: chi̍t-nn̄g-sann-sì; one-two-three-four. All four of his boys were present and accounted for. No one had wandered outside to play when it was getting dark.

On second thoughts, that red vest the little boy had on looked very much like the traditional Chinese "dudou", an old-fashioned undergarment worn mainly by girls. Shaped like a diamond, the apron-like vest covered the torso from neck to waist and was fastened at the back. It wasn't something any of his sons owned, let alone would have even worn.

There were also no other young boys of similar age in the neighbourhood who could account for the mistaken identity. Their nearest neighbour had two young girls who didn't wear their hair quite that short. When he asked around the next day, no one could recall ever seeing such a boy in the neighbourhood.

After from his initial outburst, Grandpa refused to speak further about his encounter with Dad or his brothers. It is a real mystery in our family to this day. I still wonder who that boy was and why he chose to appear only my grandfather.

About thirty years later, Dad brought Mum, my older sister and I to his old neighbourhood in Georgetown. The dirt track where Grandpa met the boy in the red vest had become a concrete footpath with cracks in places. Amazingly, the house they had lived in was still there, little more than a dingy shed. It was so rundown it was practically falling apart at the seams. It was hardly the best place to bring up four lively boys, but somehow Grandpa had managed.

Dad was only fifteen when his father passed and he in turn has been gone for over thirteen years now. I've often wished that my young self at the time had thought to ask my father for more details about his boyhood in Penang, before and after the Japanese Occupation.

Grandpa's remains are still in Georgetown. Maybe someday I might gather my sisters, cousins and their children to pay our respects to Ah Kong.

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Comments about this paranormal experience

The following comments are submitted by users of this site and are not official positions by yourghoststories.com. Please read our guidelines and the previous posts before posting. The author, Jubeele, has the following expectation about your feedback: I will read the comments and participate in the discussion.

Jubeele (4 stories) (228 posts)
+2
2 weeks ago (2017-11-06)
Hi ThirteenStars15 - oh wow, I never thought of Nezha. The idea of a Chinese deity appearing to my Grandpa is fascinating. I'd pick Nezha because of the 'naughty' element. The Third Lotus Prince is one of my favourites in the Chinese pantheon. Maybe because he's so mischievous, yet kind and protective. He rides those fantastic wind-fire wheels. I think he's a Taoist deity, but originated from Hindu mythology. I remember that he fought against the Monkey God, Sun Wu-kong during his rebellion against the Celestial Heavens. But they became friends later on. (Must dig up "Journey to the West" again).

Sudhanakumâra...Have to check my books <*rustle-rustle, mutter*>. Sudhana or Shancai Tongzi is the "Child of Wealth". He was an Indian youth who went on a great pilgrimage to attain Enlightenment. His teachings are in the Gandavyuha-Sutra, which gained popularity during the Song Dynasty 960 - 1279 A.D. He's also said to be paired with Longnü, the daughter of the Dragon King.

Hey, my nickname as a girl was "Siu Long-lui" (Little Dragon Maid) because I was born in the year of the Dragon!

I think your name is great - like a Special Agent, code name: 13***15. 😉

Thanks for reading my account. It's nice to hear from a fellow Singaporean!
ThirteenStars15 (1 stories) (22 posts)
+1
2 weeks ago (2017-11-06)
Hi Jubeele,
You know I have a thought when you mention about a young 3 to 4 years old boy with a Du dou"...
I was thinking of maybe its not a spirit but a deity? Like 善財童子 (Sudhanakumâra) or 哪吒 (Nezha)?
Jubeele (4 stories) (228 posts)
 
2 weeks ago (2017-11-03)
Melda, I got your emails and will send a response soon. We've both fine. Always good to hear from you. I'm actually going through my Malaysian cookbook to pick up a nice recipe for you! ❤
Melda (8 stories) (658 posts)
 
2 weeks ago (2017-11-03)
Jubeele - I know this has nothing to do with your publication, which I found intriguing.

I have been trying to reply to your email and in fact sent you two messages which you might not have received. It could be that my mails are not going through to you due to my service provider 😕

All the best to both of you. ❤

Regards, Melda
valkricry (39 stories) (2748 posts) mod
+1
2 weeks ago (2017-11-01)
Jubeele and BGP, you two just made my day.😊I do work hard on my graphics, and as you can see am a stickler for details. Trespauze is open 24/7, 365 days a year. So come back anytime you want. Something new is always brewing.😉
babygoatpuller (4 stories) (369 posts)
+1
2 weeks ago (2017-11-01)
Your father must have been very spooked by the whole thing once he figured it out Jubeele. If the vest the child was wearing at the time was old fashioned, I'm wondering if the drain pipe was even there at the time.

It could be just a replay of a happier time in the kid's life and your father just happened to be in the right place at the right time. Or, from his standpoint, the wrong place... 😨

I found all the items. The witch is lying! Ribbit... 😜
Jubeele (4 stories) (228 posts)
 
2 weeks ago (2017-11-01)
sheetal - thanks for reading and glad you enjoyed it. Who knows, maybe somewhere in Georgetown, a cheeky little boy spirit is still out there playing in the twilight...
Jubeele (4 stories) (228 posts)
+1
2 weeks ago (2017-11-01)
lady-glow - I think history constantly repeats itself because once the lesson has been learnt, it's almost instantly forgotten when the next generation comes along to make the same tragic mistakes all over again.

My family has never spoken with rancour or bitterness about those times. It's remarkable because both their families were wealthy before the Occupation. But my parents always said that they were fortunate to survive and that was enough. I'm grateful that I never grew up blindly hating people for things that happened in the past. 🤔
Jubeele (4 stories) (228 posts)
+1
2 weeks ago (2017-11-01)
Martin - thanks for your help and Halloween wishes. Hope the "ghost" in the machine didn't cause too much havoc.

Val - Trespauze Manor was sooo cool. Great graphics. Never got past the coffee in the kitchen (I can't find it!), but my lucky "Ba-gua" mirror deflected the Witch's curse. I did explore the Mine and read your haunting tales. Thanks for a fun Halloween! 😘
sheetal (6 stories) (764 posts)
+1
2 weeks ago (2017-11-01)
I guess the boy must have died there. Overall I loved the story. Thanks for sharing.
lady-glow (8 stories) (1569 posts)
+1
3 weeks ago (2017-11-01)
Jubeele: I'm sure that anyone living through a war has experienced events more terrifying than the worst horror story.
It is sad to see that humanity hasn't learned from their mistakes and we keep on tripping on the same stone. 😕
valkricry (39 stories) (2748 posts) mod
 
3 weeks ago (2017-10-31)
Anyone caring to join Jubeele for some Halloween fun:
Http://trespauzemanor.com/
Jubeele (4 stories) (228 posts)
+1
3 weeks ago (2017-10-31)
I'm off to play in Trapeauze Manor everyone. I need to find the coffee in that spooky kitchen before the Witch's curse turns me into a toad... Happy Halloween!
Jubeele (4 stories) (228 posts)
+1
3 weeks ago (2017-10-31)
Dear lady-glow, I'm really pleased you enjoyed my Grandpa's account! About the monsoon drain, I had the teeniest little chill when you brought up the possibility. Who knows, you may just be right...?

I've wondered if that was the same drain my father was talking about when Penang fell in Dec 1941 (Singapore was taken in Feb 1942). Dad was walking home from school when the bombs fell around him. The only shelter was a nearby storm drain, where the sewer rats were as big as cats. But they were just as frightened as the small boy hiding there among them...

Sometimes, real life events terrify me far more than a ghostly encounter. 😨
Martin (576 posts) mod
+1
3 weeks ago (2017-10-31)
Happy Halloween everyone and be careful not to fall into a diabetic coma after all those candies 🎃 👻 🍬
valkricry (39 stories) (2748 posts) mod
 
3 weeks ago (2017-10-31)
Awww thanks, Jubeele. I need more characters, so...
HAPPY HALLOWEEN, EVERYONE!
lady-glow (8 stories) (1569 posts)
+1
3 weeks ago (2017-10-31)
Jubeele: nice read.
Perhaps the little boy died while playing by the raging waters of a bygone monsoon and what your grandfather saw was his residual energy.

Thanks for sharing this lovely written experience. ❤
Jubeele (4 stories) (228 posts)
+2
3 weeks ago (2017-10-30)
Val, I think that in our worrying about the future, trying to do so much that we sometimes forget to simply enjoy the moment and cherish the people we love.

This is one of the few memories I know of Grandpa and I'm glad I could share it with everyone on YGS. In writing this, I was also reminded that we've got less time than we think to build bridges and mend fences. So give someone dear to you a hug today!

Hey Val, many thanks for being there for us too. Big HUG to you.❤
valkricry (39 stories) (2748 posts) mod
+1
3 weeks ago (2017-10-30)
Jubeele, seeing as the child was bare bottomed, I doubt your Grandpa would have mistaken a girl for a boy. The boy's disappearing probably registered right after his initial outburst. No wonder he refused to discuss it further. It may have served no better purpose then to upset the kids. Then depending on Grandpa's beliefs, he may have wondered if he was loosing it.
I agree with you about not taking anyone for granted. Everyone's days are numbered.
Jubeele (4 stories) (228 posts)
+2
3 weeks ago (2017-10-30)
Oh no, Melda, that mental image... I do hope you'll have more than your birthday suit on too. For your son's sake at least, seeing that he's going to be your first "haunting"!

Having lost far too many loved ones, I've learned not to take anyone for granted. In recent years, I've gotten to know Mum better and I'm also closer to my sisters, even though we're all in different countries. Just enough distance not to get on each other's nerves <heehee>. I'm getting a new laptop soon and hopefully I can set up Skype to keep in touch with them. Hooray for technology.

Thanks for reading. Glad you enjoyed it.❤
Melda (8 stories) (658 posts)
+4
3 weeks ago (2017-10-30)
Jubeele - I really enjoyed reading your story.

The little boy probably lived in the vicinity of your grandpa's house at some stage. He was possibly dressed in that manner when he passed, bare butt and all. Please, by all that is holy, let me be fully dressed before I do any haunting 😆

I think it happens to most of us that we don't ask the questions we should when we have the opportunity to do so. There are many things I would love to know about both sets of grandparents but unfortunately when I was young I don't think I was terribly interested. They were there, so what was there to ask? We only think of these things later in life. Actually, my father's parents were no longer alive when I was born but I could have asked my father, or my mother for that matter.

You have a very interesting background 😉

Regards, Melda

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