(Sumansaa is the evil entity known by many in the Kadazan community in the West Coast Division in Sabah – North Borneo).
The story about Sumansaa was told by my grand dad. He said the thing looked like a goat but it is actually a devil that only appears on rainy nights. The body is long; I remember grand dad said it was almost three feet long with its head and eyes tilted towards the sky. It doesn’t have any sense of direction at all instead a black bird sits on its head and help the goat find its way in the dark.
Grand dad told me how he came face-to-face with the Sumansaa when he was in his 20’s. Not only that, he even chased the thing with his parang (a type of knife) until it vanished into thick bushes behind his house. To be honest, I have no evidence whatsoever to say if the story is true.
So it happened one night, my sister, granny and I were playing cards in the living room when without saying a word, granny rushed to mum’s room and started burning a clove of garlic (she always carried a clove of garlic in her little bag. Don’t ask me why). When I asked granny what was the garlic for, she shushed me. Then we heard the sound of a goat bleating in the distance; it was eerie and yet sad at the same time. I felt sorry for the goat. I thought who could’ve let the poor animal out in the rain. As if granny read my mind, she gave me a nudge and told me to be quiet. Early the next morning, granny packed her things and went to aunt Melina’s house. She promised to come back in the evening but she never came.
I was curious to know about the goat, so I went to see grand dad and asked him. He stared at me for a while, slowly put the kirai (a hand-rolled cigarette) between his lips, and began to tell his story. After he finished, my jaw dropped. He said, ‘Don’t forget to burn the garlic. That damn thing hate the smell of garlic.’ He chuckled and stubbed out his kirai in an empty glass.
Rain came pouring hard on the tin roof that evening. My sister and I sat quietly in the living room, contemplating. Suddenly, my ears picked up a sound… that damn bleating! Even in the pouring rain, the unmistakable sound was as clear as day! We jumped to our feet and rushed into mum’s room. My sister found an incense burner and a clove of garlic. She burned the garlic and put the burner close to mum’s bed. I felt sorry for mum. I bet she would rather be somewhere else than in the forsaken house but with her being sick and couldn’t walk, there was nothing we could do.
It wasn’t until around midnight when the bleating finally stopped. I was tired and sleepy. As I put my head on the pillow, I said, ‘Next time we hear the damn thing, we blast it with fireworks.’ My sister gave me the ‘Are you crazy?’ look. I shrugged and went to sleep.
Submitted by Anna Ferrar
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