Saturday, May 31, 2014

THE UNSEEN

Do I believe in spirits, and ghosts? Sure I do, and I also believe that an open mind is one that can be richer in knowledge. 

I am sure when we were young, most of us would have wondered, at least about one specific ‘unseen’ thing. We could feel it, yet could not see it. We have lived with it and benefited by it!  Yes, I am talking about air. We know it exists from our very own breath as we inhale it, and by movements of trees it causes. We do not deny its existence, even though we cannot see air. Then, we do believe in something of the ‘unseen’. 

We are also aware of our own souls that keep us alive. Likewise, spirits, and ghosts also exist, even though they are not visible to our naked eyes. Some people have the ability to see, and feel their presence.This is not extraordinary in many parts of the world.

To believe in the unseen is inculcated in many cultures, at an early age. It encompasses the belief that the soul leaves the body, at a pre-determined time, beyond our control. It leaves the body, even without sickness, like in accidents. When a body is devoid of soul, it turns cold, decomposes, and crumbles (unless preserved). So, where does the soul go to?  Each culture has its own interpretation. However, what remains in conformity, is the belief, that the soul eventually leaves the body, when the time comes.  It then goes to another destination. 

SCIENCE AND PROGRESS
When science came into existence, what were invisible to the naked eyes, and could not be proven scientifically, were often dismissed as superstitions. In the old days, many people were compelled to disguise their beliefs, and practices, so as not to be mocked at, or persecuted. Spiritual healing that existed since the beginning of time, was looked upon as witchcraft.  Many innocents who practiced this craft, were condemned, and some, turned into human torches.   

BELIEFS
Today, despite science and its undeniable contributions to progress, believers remain steadfast in their beliefs. Views on souls, spirits, and ghosts remain unchanged in most cultures. To believe or not to believe, regardless, topics on the unseen continue to fascinate inquisitive minds. Theories on Creation, souls, spirits, ghosts, are continuously theorized, speculated, and debated upon. Despite open assaults by skeptics, unexplainable phenomenon continue to intrigue, and fascinate the world. 

Hollywood capitalized, and reaped harvests in movies like ‘Ghost’ starring Patrick Swayze, and Demi Moore.  Movies on vampires (Twilight Sage), demons, immortality, continue to become blockbusters. Perhaps, views and mindsets of present day viewers, are changing!

Today, I will relate my personal encounter with a ghost, that some may conclude as ‘ironic phenomenon’.  

Singapore, my favorite city
I loved this city. In the 70s, it was a more vibrant city, compared to Kuala Lumpur. There were varieties of trendy clothes, shoes, cosmetics, to choose from. Everything was cheap then, because the Malaysian ringgit was at par with the Singapore dollar. I felt like a jet-set traveler flying for a holiday to my favorite city, each time I went for my recording.

The Royal Ramada
The late Daisy Devan, the A.R. Manager (EMI), would often arrange my accommodation close to the studio, situated at Mc Donald House, in Orchard Road. Over the years, I stayed at several hotels. Most were pleasant except for one that was too far out, and did not turn out well for me. It was the Royal Ramada.

The hotel bed was the worst I have ever slept in, despite being graded as a 4-5 star hotel.  The hotel proper was nice, and the room was also fine, but the mattress was extremely hard. It was like sleeping on the floor. I tossed, and turned, and barely had two hours sleep. Today, for the first time, I am talking about this openly. I really do not condone to public misbehavior by anyone, especially by public figures. So, there was no complain or fuss. I swore that I would never step one foot at that hotel again, and I kept my pledge, to this day. I am not sure if the hotel still exists.

The Cockpit Hotel
Since good sleep was essential to a productive recording, Daisy suggested that I changed to a different hotel. I decided to stay at the Cockpit Hotel, which reminded me of the E&O Hotel in Penang. Something drew me to this place. I had many times spotted it while passing by. It was a nice, cozy, old Colonial building, perched on a slightly elevated ground, surrounded by greens.    

I was so excited when I stepped foot into the hotel. Wow, it was like I went back in time.  The d├ęcor, antique furniture, elderly Chinese staff smartly dressed in their white attires, my room with its high ceiling - all these, took me back in time, to a place that I had seen in olden days movies. My room was slightly far out, secluded, and tucked in a corner, with windows on the side. I could see trees swaying, and heard murmurs of the traffic that sounded like waves, from a distant. This was beyond my expectation – a perfect ambience to set the mood right for the next day’s recording. I could practice my songs, in the privacy of my room. I loved the place, and this was the place that I had always wanted to be!

An unusual disturbance
I had a light dinner and settled in, to do a bit of practicing. I had earlier taped the sound/backing-track of the song ‘Bersama’, and then started belting out the song. I knew that no one could hear me. This went on for awhile, and then I did a bit of reading. I realized that it was almost midnight, and needed to catch up with my sleep.  As I began to settle in, and was just about to doze off, I heard from afar, the sound of a voice faintly humming a melody that sounded like my song ‘Bersama’, that I was practicing earlier.

I was annoyed, and thought that someone was disturbing me. I got out of bed, and peeped through the window, but could not see a soul anywhere.  The lights along the walkway leading to my room were so dimly lit. There was no peep hole at the door. I could barely see any light from the gap, under my door. Suddenly, the excitement of being in the place that I was so taken in, slowly faded. I realized there was no security, or intercom, like in present day hotels.  My anxiety grew, what if I was murdered?  My body could easily be dumped in the bushes near my room, and no one would ever find me!  I then recited prayers, and reassured myself that no harm would happen to me. I reminded myself not to falter in faith. I then checked to make sure that the room door was properly secured, and went back to bed. 

At 3.30am I was awakened by the sound of rain water dripping gently on the window pane. From a distant, I could hear thunder, followed by flashes of lightning, clearly visible from the transparent curtain fabric. I quickly pulled the black-out curtain, and forced myself to go back to sleep.

Ironically, that night, the uncanny weather, and the impending scenario, were like reenactment of the lyrics of the song ‘Bayangan Menjelma’ (below), recorded by me many months earlier. 

Lyrics in English.
One rainy night
I was awakened from sleep
I could hear a voice calling

I wondered who could that be?
The wind and flashing lightning 
continued ‘til dawn
The bright moon disappeared 
into darkness, 
Could this be a premonition?

The following day, I heard news
Then unbelievable sorrow,
You were gone forever
This last fateful rainy night,
The vision of you that reappeared
Will never, ever, be forgotten

A lonely ghost
Back to my story. As I was slowly dozing off, and in between sleep, I thought I was imagining when I heard a female voice humming. I was taken aback. Perhaps, this could be one of the female staff, who heard me practicing earlier. I became anxious when I realized that the humming was sounding closer, and closer, approaching towards my door.

I slowly crept to the door. The voice sounded much clearer, and was just right outside my door. I realized then that this could not be a human voice. The humming sounded surreal. It was humming only the chorus of my melody. I could feel my hair standing, and had goose bumps all over. I detected sadness in the voice, and could feel her misery. I became emotionally disturbed when I realized that she was expressing her loneliness and communicating her sorrow to me. Suddenly, I was no longer afraid. I prayed for this poor lonely soul. Slowly, the humming faded away. 

When I went back to sleep, I had the strangest dream. In that dream, I saw vision of a beautiful woman in her late 30s, fair-skinned, with her hair tied back, wearing a white blouse, and black silk pants.  She looked very sad. It was just a short dream. When I woke up, and to this very day, I can never forget her face.

Recording of ‘Bersama’
The following day, when I recorded the song ‘Bersama’, I could feel the emotions churning from within me. It was as though I was expressing her loneliness, and reliving her memories of someone she had loved, and lost. I believed that this lonely soul came to inspire me, to sing the song the way she wanted it to be serenaded.

When the album was released, ‘Bersama’ became an instant hit, and has remained evergreen. The lyrics of the song can be viewed in my earlier posting. 

This is the chorus 
As time goes by 
My love for you grows deeper 
Memories you  left behind, linger forever                       
You are my only desire, 
and everything I ever wanted
Please come back to me

I did not move out of the hotel, but stayed on for a couple more days. There was no further visit, or dream. I casually asked the staff if they had encountered any strange happening around the hotel. Apparently, there were some isolated incidents, within the hotel vicinity, but no one had ever heard, seen, or dreamt of this beautiful female ghost, or any other female ghosts.  

Whoever, this lonely mystery soul was, she came that night to inspire me, and I am truly happy that she did.  May her soul rest in peace.

Uncanny? Well, isn't life itself a mystery?  



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