The housing estate of Queenstown, where my Mum still lives in Singapore, is reported to have been built over a Chinese cemetery during the early 1960s. This may explain to some extent my own unsettling experiences there as a child, as shared in "Disturbed By The Spirits".
In my father's family, Second Aunt Maggie's son, Cousin Nick has been known to sensitive to the spirits. I've related a few of his experiences as a child in "Grandma's House At Cairnhill - Part 3". He was especially close to my father in those days and regularly came to visit us. Even though Nick was at least 15 years older than my sisters and I, he was the nearest to an older brother we had out of all our paternal male cousins. To this day, I still greet him as Elder Brother Nick or Nick gŏu-gōu [gore-gor: elder brother - Cantonese].
When Nick was in his twenties, he had another strange encounter. That evening, he had come over with his wife, Polly and Aunt Maggie to our place in Queenstown for dinner. The carpark at the front of our flat was full at the time, so Nick had to drive round to the one at the back. (All names mentioned have been changed).
It seemed just another sultry night in Singapore; the frogs and the insects were singing their evening chorus, with the occasional chirrup from a nightbird. Nick circled the area, steering by the light of the street lamps and the car's headlights. As he was keeping an eye out for an available spot, he muttered a curse and suddenly braked.
Jolted forward, Aunt Maggie and Polly cried out in surprise, bouncing back in their seats. The car stopped smack in the middle of the carpark. Nick was glaring past the dashboard at his windscreen.
'Why is that stupid woman just standing there?' he complained and swore heatedly in Hokkien. 'Does she want to get run over?'
'What are you talking about?' Polly wanted to know.
'Kwă sī-mè cā-bòh [see what girl]?' asked Aunt Maggie in Hokkien.
Nick's tirade stopped in mid-flow when it dawned on him that his wife and mother were both looking at him with expressions of bewilderment. Turning back to the windscreen, he found that the woman was no longer there. Not in front, behind, to the side or anywhere else.
Stunned into silence, Nick hastily found a spot and parked the car. That night, we thought he seemed unwell, as he didn't join in any of the usual banter.
Family gatherings with my father's side of the family were typically loud and hearty. All the adults would be clamouring to get a point across at the same time. No one seemed to get upset if someone talked over the top of another. We never had any problems keeping up with the conversation though. You had to be part of the clan to have this multi-conversational ability. So it was out of character for Nick to remain quiet.
After dinner, Dad was concerned and insisted on knowing what was wrong with him. Nick was reluctant to speak about his experience, so it was Aunt Maggie who told us what had happened. When she finished, we all gaped in surprise at her and then stared wide-eyed at Nick.
I remember thinking to myself that something definitely frightened him. I'd never seen my cousin, whom I knew to be very self-assured, look so shaken before.
'Have you seen this cā-bòh [girl - Hokkien] before?' Dad asked. 'What did she look like?'
If it had been anyone but Dad doing the asking, I don't think Nick would have given us any further information. By that time, I'm sure he was probably beginning to doubt his memory of the event.
At length, the details slowly emerged. Apparently, Nick had seen a woman in a long white dress. She was attractive, of Asian appearance, young, probably in her twenties, with long black hair. The woman had looked as real to him as any of us at the dinner table.
Until she vanished from sight, that is.
Over the years, this woman in white has become another family mystery. Who was she? Why did she appear only to Cousin Nick? What did she want? Why she was just standing there?
Somewhat to my surprise, I now realise that my family has its own "White Lady" legend.
This event happened around the 1970s. I've never heard of any fatal accidents in that carpark or any untimely deaths in the immediate vicinity during that period. I've always thought Nick may have seen a residual haunt from times long past.
As a matter of interest, I did find this article on an unsolved case of a young woman who was shot in 1972, within the Queenstown area:
So I pose these questions to everyone:
- Do hauntings generally stay localised at the point of demise?
- In the case of restless or wandering ghosts, how far can they possibly roam?
The murder took place about a block away from the sighting.
All you can do is try. Even if he does agree, he might not be able to be sure because of the length of time that's passed. Although, I'm fairly sure it's not something one is likely to forget.