If you ask anyone what a vampire looks like, I’m pretty sure they will tell you. They probably saw one in a movie, stories they heard as a child or they have seen it for themselves. As far as I know, vampires only exist in the western world because I’ve heard about them and watched movies about vampires. I’ve always wondered if vampires and ‘pontianak’ are the same. All I know is they’re blood sucking, evil ghosts!
In some parts of South East Asia, people believe that a woman who dies whilst giving birth will come back as a pontianak (perempuan mati beranak in Malay language meaning a woman who died giving birth) and a pontianak isn’t any ghost you would like to mess with. Some people say if you mention the word pontianak at night she will come to you and haunt your life. If you have a pregnant woman in the house, put lime around her bed, on every window in the house and hang a six inch nail on the window in the bedroom where she sleeps and on the front door. Why, you might ask? I guess it’s a way of keeping the pregnant woman safe from the pontianak but don’t quote me on that.
Another crazy story I’ve heard about the evil ghost is that if you’re able to catch her (I’ve no idea how you can catch a pontianak), get a six inch nail and nail it right at the back of her neck. You have to make sure it’s right in the middle and deep enough so she won’t be able to pull it out. The pontianak will transform into a beautiful woman. Crazy, huh?
I saw a pontianak when I was six or seven years old. Actually, it was my dad who saw her first. As usual, after dinner dad sat on the verandah enjoying the night breeze. Suddenly he rushed in, grabbed mum’s hand and said ‘Come and have a look at this…’ I heard dad mentioned the word ghost. Curiosity got the better of me so I decided to investigate. Slowly I pushed the front door open, and walked as quietly as a mouse but mum caught me tip toe from behind them. She put her arms around me and said I better go inside but being a stubborn child, I refused to until they told me what were they looking at.
Dad picked me up and pointed at something on the street in front of our house. I saw a strange woman with long hair and she wore a tattered dress. I remember the sound of her voice; the way she wept was eerie to say the least but the scariest thing for me when I realised her feet (Do ghosts have feet?) weren’t touching the ground. Instead, she floated passed our house and disappeared right before our eyes. She then reappeared in front of the neighbour’s house a few metres away from us!
My brothers and sisters had no idea what I saw that night. When I asked mum about the strange woman, she said, ‘The woman is a pontianak.’ That was my first encounter with ghosts. As I grew older, I learned so much about the ‘other world’ and haunting but does that makes me a believer? The answer is maybe.
Submitted by Anna Ferrar
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