The Girl In Red

This story was told to me by an old man in a village (kumpong) when I was in Indonesia for business 6 years ago. I stopped to look at his house because it has a Chinese tomb just outside. It was very unusual to see a Chinese tomb outside a Muslim house. The old man came to me and we chat. I was told later that the great ancestors of the old man was a Chinese and after a few generation of mixed marriage he became a Muslim. I was also told that he was once a professional witch that cast evil spells on people. But now, he has since retired after something happened to his family. Eventhough it was our first meeting and he don’t speak English but we chat like no stranger. Maybe also he has Chinese blood flowing in him. And well, not forgetting to thanks my Indonesian friend that helped to do the translation. Our topic include rural living, religion and belief. Than he moved on to tell me a true story happened in his village in 1998. It was a story I would never forget. Let me reconstruct and share the story with you all here.

Jenny was a oldest child of 3 daughters from an Indonesian Chinese family. Her father was a businessman. They are wealthy and they lived in an apartment in a city. Because of some unwanted harassment from her father business rival, for safety reason, Jenny was sent to live with her relative in the old man village temporarily while waiting for a room in her high school hostel. As an immigrate Chinese living in Indonesia, Jenny complexion was pretty fair and she drew numerous of admirers. There was a young man living few houses away from where her aunt is living was also fond with this new coming young girl. After a few attempts to catch her attention at the bus-stop outside the village, the young man offered to give Jenny a lift to her school by his car. The public transport was usually very crowded and is inconvenience, also quite a distance from the main road to where she live, the free lift by the young man was just as helpful and it became more regularly.

Just when Jenny let her guard off of the newly known stranger, something just happened unexpectedly. One evening, Jenny was offered for a dinner with the young man in town. It was a planned dinner. Street lights are not commonly available in the rural area and therefore the sandy path from the main road leading to the houses inside would be very dark. The young man wanted to delay the time going back to the village so that he can carry out whatever plan he has in his evil mind. He wanted the evil act be concealed under the situation of darkness. Expectedly, the sky was already dark by the time they leave the restaurant. They head straight home inside the young man’s car. Just a short distance away from their destination, the young man changed his route and drove to another village nearby. He then ripped off his mask and tried to take advantage of her. Jenny, a conservative young girl fought with the wolf inside the almost air tight car. All the screaming and sound of yelling were kept just inside the car. The soft young girl was than humiliated by the inhuman wolf helplessly in the night of complete darkness. To add to her mishap, Jenny was found contracted of sexually diseases few days after the incident. Thinking that she was treated very unfairly by the heaven and her day to happiness is ruined, Out of her mind, she put herself in all red before she hung herself from a tree at the one and only gateway to the village one morning before dawn. She wants him to live in fear and to remember her forever.

It is a sin to wear all in red deliberately before one is ending his life. Although Jenny has a reason to do so but as far as the heavenly god is concerned, revenge is not a job for us to do. One should leave this world peacefully without resentment. One should also leave the karma to the heaven to punish the culprit. And because a dead person would never wear in red, it is even more sinful for the living being to wrap up the dead one in red. Remember a dead person can never do it herself.

If you are old enough, you may recall an incident happened in Singapore during the early 90s. There was this guy who was driving and quarreling with his girl friend sitting beside on the expressway along the ECP. The girl walked down from the car when the car stopped on the shoulder of the expressway. She than walked alongside the road towards the main road before she can flag a taxi. Her boy friend which was driving ran her down from behind and killed her instantly. Her boy friend claimed that it was an accident. But the family of the dead young woman think otherwise. So, The family of the dead young woman dressed her in red in the coffin hoping that she would haunt the killer. This is sinful. The dead young woman didn’t even have a chance to make her own decision.

Anyway, let me comes back to my story. The news was a blow to everyone living in the village. It was even more devastated to her family back home. As of liked the above, Jenny family dressed her in red before sending her off to her next destination. After since that morning, the old man who was once a religion witch started to see Jenny image outside his home. She would usually stands in the plantation a distance from where the old man live. This doesn’t bother the old man because he has got used to see things that other don’t see. Also, he would not want to get involve with whatever Jenny has with the bloody young man. Every few nights, the wild dogs in the village would barked fiercely at one moment and than moaning the next moment. Once a peaceful village is now became a fearful village.

Sometimes in mid of 1998, the political driven anti-govt riot in Indonesia turned to anti-Chinese. Street protests and rioters were everywhere. Some hooligans were desperate and would ransack houses and loot valuable from Chinese homes. Many Chinese were robbed, raped and killed. Even those that lived in a security guarded apartment would not be spared. Unfortunately, Jenny’s parents were killed and her two teenage sisters were raped before throwing their lifeless body into the burning fire. Suddenly, an image of only Jenny became 5 in a row. Jenny, her parents and 2 sisters standing in the plantation almost every other night. Jenny is now in needs of help. And she certainly knew that only the once religion witch old man can help her.

Have you heard that the ancestor tablet we offer in our home is the home of little god ( ?? ) beside the religion deity? Yes, our ancestor is supposed to be protecting us. Therefore, Jenny can only hoped that the old man would approach her voluntarily and because of the tomb outside the old man’s house, she can’t get any nearer. She can just hopes for the best.

Due to the nature of the old man ability in black magic, he can see and feel the presence of spirit naturally. He stopped practicing the evil trade only after his third wife gave birth to a daughter that was born with low IQ about twenty years ago. Not retarded but just a slow learner compared to those children her age. He thought it was a punishment from the heaven and was a hint for him to call his trade a day. Today, after so many years, the old man thought he may do something for Jenny if is harmless so as to gain some good deeds out of the helping. From the way he talks and his hands expression, I could feel that he was trying to tell me how scary it was to go near a girl spirit who was known as possessing with plentiful of resentment in her. Without much elaborating, I think he was trying to tell me she was once a very attractive girl but is now very ugly. I think no one is pretty if one is possessing with resentment.

Well, actually Jenny’s request was very simple. She needs the old man to help to retrieve her parents and sisters bodies from the hospital mortuary and burial them together beside her grave. The old man grant her the wish after getting the details from her aunt living in the same village.

The spirit of Jenny doesn’t appear in the village every night. But when she does, the wild dogs would barked as though they see something. When she wasn’t there, she might be somewhere looking out for food. Or, maybe you should look behind you to see if she was standing behind you reading what you are reading now.

Anyway, the old man has a 20 years old daughter that staying with him. The old man never once worried for her because she was far from attractive among the other teenage girls in the same village. But out of sudden, she begins to pay more attention in her dressing and starts using her mother’s make-up set. Don’t know how it was started, before the old man noticed anything amiss, he saw his daughter sitting inside the bloody young man’s car one day. The old man was boiling and despite his pleading with her daughter to stop seeing him, she simply don’t care. Ironically, she starts seeing him even more frequently.

A leopard would not change its spot. Not long after, the bloody young man was found dead in his car. He was stabbed with a hair pin to his throat. The deadly killed was very swiftly. Its just doesn’t looked like a work by someone who claimed to be less intelligent. The old man’s daughter was arrested by the police for murder. Her stands was, on the night of killing, she was assaulted and she was acted out of self-defends. Beside, she was born less intelligent in nature. She was later acquitted of all the charges by the court.

After the incident, the village went back to its glory days of peace.

I wondered how many could there be wandering spirits in Indonesia if life after death is existence in the eyes of a muslim country. If only they have a festive month like us that offer prayer for the souls than I think Indonesia may not have as much disaster like today. May all the dead one live in peace.

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