I was inspired to write this after reading a post from another user. Their story reminded me of an experience I had not too long ago.
About a year and some months ago, when I was just six months pregnant with my son, Jazz, my husband and I left the local Thai hut. I was full to the brim with Tom Yam. It was fairly late, around midnight, and we were heading back towards our Kampung (Bahasa Malay for "village"). It started to rain and my window was open just a crack. I closed it and continued the conversation with my husband.
We decided to go stop by his parents' (They live close by), when I felt a gentle and soft rub on my right shoulder. I looked to my husband, puzzled, and asked in disbelief if he just touched me? I say disbelief because my husband is a bit aloof and not very thoughtful, so it would have been out of his norm to do that. He said no. I told him what had occurred and out of no where I said, "It was a grand, motherly touch and it felt like someone was in the back seat!" I half expected my husband to scold me as he does not like me discussing such things after a certain hour.
As an American who moved to a village in Southeast Asia, I came to learn Malays are very superstitious--and rightfully so. To my amazement, my husband did not scold me (eventhough it was past the appropriate time to discuss such matters). Instead, he asked me where were we exactly when I felt it? I said, "right before we pulled in your parents' drive, a little back there near the tobacco leaves." He then told me his favorite grandmother is buried there. I did not realize there was a family cemetery in that wooded area.
The next day, I fell ill. Turned out I had gotten pneumonia and became bedridden for weeks. I remember praying to God that my son will be ok as I had dangerously high and low temperatures. Malaysia is damn hot and humid and there were times I felt I was freezing and my lips would turn purplish despite the weather! A number of times my husband had to stack many comforters on me. I could not keep food down and pittied my unborn son. It was the scariest two weeks in my life!
Sometimes, I would sense this grandmotherly entity with me. She would pull the comforters on me as I laid awake trying not to cough. After I regained my health, I did not feel her presence until after the birth of my son.
I had a C-section to deliver my baby. Malay's have a tradition for dealing with the time period after having given birth called "confinement". You're pretty much under strict house arrest for 40 days. You get massaged by your sisters-in-law, lathered in oils, and are the subject of many other traditional acts. Your stomach is put in a binder to avoid gas as well as flatten your tummy. For some, this sounds like a luxury, but I guarantee you it is not. Not to mention the strict diet of no meats, including chicken or fish! You're stuck on water, teas and soups--a pure liquid diet with lots of ginger root involved!
After being released from the hospital, I was placed at my mother-in-law's to spend "confinement". Doped on pain killers, I held my boy in my arms and I went to sleep. It was the middle of the afternoon when I awoke to the feeling of socks being placed on my feet. A strict rule of confinement is that one must wear socks constantly to sweat out the impurities by being covered. Thinking it was my sister-in-law, I just closed my eyes. I then opened them as I remembered I had locked the door because my sister-in-law's second youngest daughter kept coming in and I wanted to avoid her slapping my newborn again, so I locked the door to have a peaceful rest. I love my little niece and she is my favorite among them all, but I was upset at her envy of my baby. However, I understood her jealousy because she was just a toddler.
I tried to sit up, which is very hard to do when you recently had your belly cut open, and looked at the door. The lock was still pushed in. I also saw that I was covered in a thin green blanket as well as wearing socks. I hate socks and I do not like to be covered in midday due to Malaysia's humidity. I called my husband in and questioned him about it all. He said no one has been in my room. I also asked my sister-in-law, but she said, no, she was not the one who put the covers on, nor the socks. So I just left it alone. I already knew it was the grandmotherly entity.
Later, my mother-in-law questioned my husband and I about Jazz. It was noticed that he would focus at a certain area in the room, most notably the foot of our bed. He would stare as if he saw something and it delighted him. Sometimes his eyes would dart here and there as if seeing something flying about that we could not. He was not scared. He seemed amused.
I told my husband about the sock incident in detail and again he told me he thinks his favorite grandmother was taking care of me. It is comforting to know that I had a ghostly midwife watching over me and my son! It is even more comforting that it made my husband smile!