Was I living with a ghost, or was this all just a figment of my imagination? You know what, I’m okay not knowing.
When I was little, I loved reading and listening to bedtime stories. Especially the frightful sort – the more morbid, the better. Think along the lines of Grimms’ Fairy Tales. At times I’d let my imagination get the best of me: I wouldn’t sleep in the dark for fear of what might come after me once the lights turned off. But even as I devoured books like Russell Lee’s True Singapore Ghost Stories (every Singaporean child’s first introduction to spooky stories), I never imagined I’d have one (or a few) of my own to tell. Or that I’d walk away with a bit of wisdom in tow. This is what it was like living with a ghost in my house…
My spooky experience living with a ghost
I don’t remember my first encounter with the ghost. But there were plenty of minute occurrences over a few years. At first, they were negligible.
My younger brother heard chairs in the dining room moving in the middle of the night. There was the sound of pacing coming from the empty bedroom next to mine. A battery-operated toy cat meowed on its own even when it was turned off. Sometimes, while lying down, I’d feel the weight of something shift at the foot of my bed, as if someone got up after a time of sitting down.
Once, I felt something large crawl under my mattress, waking me in the process. My parents came in and checked under my bed, but didn’t find anything. My dad would often say, “It’s just a change in the air pressure.” As scared as I was of this “ghost”, I attributed these events to my wild imagination, too.
The one with the music box
All these moments eventually culminated in one event that made my skin crawl. I used to have this carousel-shaped music box from an ex-boyfriend. Music boxes have always given me the heebie-jeebies. So I never used it for years, aside from when I first received it as a gift.
One night, as I was taking a bath, the music box began to play its tune. It only lasted a couple of seconds, but I stood in the bathroom, shower head in hand and frozen in fear. A dozen thoughts ran through my head: was it the ghost? Or did someone come up to my room and touch the box? I listened carefully and heard no one exiting my room or going down the stairs – sounds that would’ve been fairly obvious, as the walls in my house are paper thin.
I collected myself, got changed and went to my brother’s room so I wouldn’t be alone. After a while, my brother, annoyed by my presence as always, asked me what I was doing there. I told him about the music box and thought he might laugh.
But instead, he said, “Oh, actually when I was showering just now, I felt a hand squeeze my shoulder.”
We laughed nervously. The night ended with our mum coming into the room to pray for us, and our dad chiding us for scaring her with our spooky stories. I don’t think I slept in my room that night.
When our ghost moved out
These unexplainable experiences went on for years. I almost felt accustomed to living with a ghost. But in mid-2019, our family temporarily moved out while our home underwent renovations. That was the first time in 16 years we’d done a deep cleaning of the house. Plenty of old belongings, souvenirs, clothes and furniture were thrown out, sold or given away.
I didn’t experience anything odd during our time in the temporary accommodation. To my surprise, when we returned to our newly-renovated home after three months, the ghost didn’t come with us.
I expected it to continue its less-than-welcome antics, but there was only silence. Perhaps we’d tossed it out along with the items we got rid of. Or maybe it finally got bored of us. I wasn’t about to complain, since I could now finally sleep in peace at night.
Lessons on letting go
The truth is, I don’t know if this entity was indeed real, or if it was all just a byproduct of my active imagination. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ll never know – and that’s okay. For me, it’s a great analogy of how important it is to let go and accept there are some things in life I won’t receive closure on.
Sometimes, we hold on to bad experiences, toxic relationships, broken friendships and unhappy memories. They might not be ghosts, but these things still haunt us. I’ve wished I could change the past. I’ve spent nights thinking of people who have wronged me, or those I may have unknowingly wronged in return.
But just like how my family’s renovations pushed out a pestering poltergeist, perhaps it’s good for us to look back on our lives and throw away the things that no longer serve us. Whether that’s a person, a memory or a regret. Maybe that’s all we need to find a little peace.
Do I miss living with a ghost? Absolutely not. But at least I walked away with a life lesson to ponder over – and some spooky stories to tell when the sun goes down.