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The Wake


In the early 60's in Mauritius, we used to have wakes when someone would die. The body would be exposed at the family's for a whole day and night and would then be buried the next day. During these wakes, families and friends would come to eat, chat and play cards the whole night. The card playing is a tradition and usually, by the end of the night, the cards would be thrown away in the yard, not to be played ever. I never understood this tradition and never really asked about it.

Anyway, wakes used to be quite joyful, a bit like a party. Quite strange you would say. But that's a bit the tradition at least then.

Back to the story. There was a wake at an uncle of mine. An old aunt had passed away. There was a lot of people and it was in a large colonial house with a big yard and with a long entrance alley that would be about 300 to 400 meters long and curvy. The house was slightly dominant, being built on a small uphill. Therefore, from the veranda, we could see the entrance to the alley. There were large trees and bush on the sides of the alley and there was a large round concrete circle in front of the house with small trees in the middle of the concrete circle, for cars to come around and go.

It was around midnight. There were a lot of people under the veranda chatting, eating and playing cards. The corpse was on a table in the middle of the lounge inside with doors open. I was chatting with a cousin when we saw a small light coming from the entrance of the alley. My uncle, who was the owner of the property, said that it was the milkman coming. Indeed, in those times, the milkman (it was actually a peasant of the region) would come during wakes to deliver... Milk on his bicycle. He would carry two large containers made of iron, attached to his bicycle. Don't ask me why the milkman would come at midnight to deliver milk. It use to be that way for wakes.

Anyway, we saw the small front light of the bicycle slowly coming on the alley as if the milkman was pushing his bike. After several minutes, we saw the light about to reach the large concrete circle in front of the house. We could hear the sound of the wheels and chains as well as footsteps. The light went behind the shrubs in the middle of the concrete circle and stopped. We could not see anything because of the shrubs hiding the milkman.

My uncle called his wife to bring some containers to collect the milk. We were all on the veranda chatting and watching the scene. Three aunts/cousins walked down the big stairs with containers to go collect milk with the milkman. They walked around the circle and disappeared from our sight behind the shrubs. Then they walked around looking for the milkman and asked us on the veranda where he had gone. Since we were on a high point and had seen and heard the milkman, we were convinced he should have been behind the shrubs. Some guys walked down to look but there was no milkman nor any bicycle.

Then suddenly, we all heard like a chain being violently rattled on the roof which was partially made of iron sheet. It was making an astounding noise. We came out of the house to see what was happening. Someone lit the roof with a torch but we could not see the source of that noise. It went on again. Then someone said he knows who is doing that. He loudly threatened someone by saying her name and summoned her to immediately stop this nonsense. We heard something falling down the roof with a heavy thump and like something running away in the bush around.

Everybody had their eyes wide open and some were scared. Then the guy who had summoned this "entity" said that it was a lady who was staying not far who was into witchcraft. She used to do that kind of pranks to scare people. I don't know if she was the entity or she sent an entity.

Anyway, the "real" milkman came just afterwards, scaring some people, mainly the ladies and everybody was only talking about this. No need to tell you that the conversations afterwards were all about ghosts, witchcraft, poltergeist and black magic. Everyone would have a story to tell.

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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 Please read our guidelines and the previous posts before posting. The author, Cafelelion, has the following expectation about your feedback: I will read the comments and participate in the discussion.

Gayatrishiva (3 stories) (121 posts)
11 years ago (2013-01-06)
These kinds of wakes does happen in south india too and it happens only if the person who has died is old person who has lived his life fully. During these wakes I too remember only few close ones will be crying and after sometimes that will also die down. Then everyone chitchatting around, having tea or coffee and some food which is usually ordered outside now days otherwise before it was prepared. Mostly the men they play cards the whole night. And in south india we also have a tradition where they call the drummers who keep on singing (it usually involves about how a person goes through life from birth to death) and playing the drum. Its usually said when a person die actually the soul is liberated which is like party for it so this celebration stuff.
jitters (guest)
12 years ago (2012-09-04)
Goodness Cavelelion... Your stories and real life experiences 're creepy as hell. And as I was reading your stories after mid night like around 3am, I shivered in almost a single raindrop's my first time here and I only signed up to tell you this, keep writing and i'll definitly read you
Javelina (4 stories) (3749 posts)
12 years ago (2012-08-25)
That is too bad. Tradition helps keep our ancestors close, and fosters curiosity of the family history. It's like glue, it helps keep families from drifting too far apart. But more and more you find it is dying away. Like the wake you wrote about. Where you talked about the wake being more like a party, a joyous event. My sisters and I have held to that tradition. But even so, we will be asked by an older relative "Are you having a party or a wake?" That is when I remind them of the wakes they had when I was a kid. Those were more like parties too.
I just hate to see such traditions die out.

Cafelelion (12 stories) (30 posts)
12 years ago (2012-08-25)
Hi Javelina,

I will. I'll try not to forget to ask to someone. I'll try to find someone older than I:-) because nowadays it's hardly seen in wakes, maybe in the country.
Javelina (4 stories) (3749 posts)
12 years ago (2012-08-25)
Aaah... A mystery, eh? It's very interesting that whenever you have asked the reason for the throwing of the cards, you never get a clear reply. I think it's sweet that even though they have no idea why it's done they still do it. They won't admit they don't why it is done, but they mumble something no one can understand in an attempt to make it seem like they do. That makes me smile.


~~If you ever do find out about the cards, you should notate that information here. I'd love to know myself. 😁
Cafelelion (12 stories) (30 posts)
12 years ago (2012-08-24)
Hi Javelina,

Regarding the cards, there is not empty spot or a drink left for the one who passed away. I think It's kind of accompanying the passed away into the afterlife. Each time I've asked why it's done, I've always received very vague and shallow answers and I've never kind of done a deep investigation.
Javelina (4 stories) (3749 posts)
12 years ago (2012-08-20)
We still hold to the tradition of a party atmosphere for a wake, at least my family does. I have always felt it was the best way to celebrate someone's life. To send them off without any fear of having left someone behind to wallow in their sadness. They can move on in peace. Seems to have worked pretty well so far.
The thing about the cards is new to me though. Makes you wonder what the thinking was behind it. Was there an empty spot at the table when they played cards? Or perhaps a drink set out for the one who had passed on to enjoy as they played their last game with them before moving on? And then afterward they they toss the deck out into the yard. I love the symbolism of these old traditions and I love to try and fill in those blanks, even if I am wrong. Hope you don't mind.
Thank you for sharing another of these lovely accounts.

Jav 😊
Cafelelion (12 stories) (30 posts)
12 years ago (2012-08-20)
Hi Laura1103,

Indeed, this was very common in Mauritius in that period. By the 80's, these accounts became more scarce. Actually, the more the country became industrialized, the less account of this nature took place. But it was very scary experiencing this and I know a lot of people who were victims of these witches.

Thanks for reading
koalagirl (3 stories) (111 posts)
12 years ago (2012-08-19)
hi I really enjoyed your story, found it very interesting, loved reading about different cultures. Di.
Laura1103 (1 stories) (10 posts)
12 years ago (2012-08-18)
Your story reminds me of the witchcraft in the Mexican culture. It is known for women who practice it to be able to shape-shift into owl like creatures know as "lechuzas" and they too carry a small little flame like light and can torment people they don't like. Your story just confirmed what I already thought to be true.

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