A collection of Short Stories on my Grandfathers

In this short story, my grandfather, as a young boy, is tortured by the thought of having to drink a particular oil during his holidays. It takes place in Malaysia, in the year 1946.
This is a story which I have written for my Personal Project at school. I will be writing a total of 13 different stories about my grandfathers and this is the first one! I would appreciate any feedback!


5. Black Magic and Charms


It was early evening, five thirty to be precise, and inside the bathroom of a Bungalow, a sixteen year old boy stood in front of the mirror. He had been looking at the mirror for over two minutes. Normally, you would expect to see a reflection of yourself when you look at the mirror. After all, that is the purpose of having one in the first place. Yet, as Omar stared at the glass with his eyes stretched wide open he could not see his reflection.  He touched the red plastic frame, ran his stiff fingers all over the sleek mirror, hit it and then rubbed his eyes until the skin around them turned pink. Was his losing his sanity? At least that’s what he thought . . . for a while. I mean, he couldn’t see himself in a mirror and he knew that this was impossible. However, he also knew that in this house almost anything was possible, because this house was haunted.

                Even if you were aware that this house was haunted, it wouldn’t have made this experience any less freaky than it already is.  I highly doubt you can understand how Omar felt, but I’m sure will agree when I say that his heart raced through the roof. His heart wasn’t the only thing that raced; he raced out the bathroom, down the stairs and into his compound.

                “Ahhhhhhhh! Ghosts are in the house! Ghost, ghost, ghost! The spirits are back!” Omar screamed as he jumped across the drain and ran into Satanam’s compound. He was in front of their bungalow, panting, swaying from one side to the other, with itchy feet and only a towel, which was covered in love-grass, around his waist.

                Satanam and his wife, Indra, had been sitting on their easy chairs in their porch when they spotted Omar moving about like a wild donkey. Just picture a boy like Omar in front of your house. I’ll help you and provide a description of him; he had sandy hair, tanned skin and was a lean guy with chocolate brown eyes. You would have found it ridiculously funny if you hadn’t known what had just happened.  Fortunately, Satanam and Indra had heard his screaming and therefore approached him in a careful and thoughtful manner. Neither of them found this funny, as Zianab, Omar’s mother, had been taking about eerie events happening every day. 

                “What is this boy running around in his towel for?” Indra inquired. She wasn’t waiting for an answer; this was more of a thought.  I guess she was annoyed. You would be too if your neighbors constantly talked to you about ghosts and spirits, especially if you did not believe in such things. 

                Omar stood still, completely petrified, with his hand pointing to the house. His head, legs and arms vibrated, tears were about to slide out of his eyes and down his cheek and his mouth was as dry as a desert.  His eyes wouldn’t move, in fact, he was shocked when he saw Satanam lower his arm and grab hold of his shoulders.

                “Omar, what happened?” Satanam said as he tried to catch his attention.

                “I - I – I, couldn’t see my face in the mirror.” Omar struggled to look at him.

                “Huh? That’s not possible, Omar.”

                “I’m telling you, I couldn’t see my refection. It’s the spirits, really it is.”

                “Please Omar, there is no such thing.” Satanam told Omar as he laid his arm around Omar’s shoulders and shook him tight. They were walking towards their porch when Indra spotted Zianab bolting towards them. Her flabby tummy jingled like jelly and her arms flew about in the air.

                “Ay, Omar, what happened? I heard you screaming.” Zianab asked her son as she cupped her hands around his cheeks in an attempt to calm him down.

                “The spirits, it’s them. I couldn’t see my face in the mirror. Ibu, I’m not joking, I’m telling the truth!” He said pleadingly. You didn’t need to hear him speak to know that he was desperate for someone to believe him; his face said it all, and the trauma expressed by his eyes was enough evidence to prove that he was telling the truth. However, his mother didn’t need any sort of prove, for her, this was almost normal.

                “No, I believe you. This has been going on for far too long.” Zainab said miserably to Indra and Satanam. Her voice was steady but with a hint of fear.

                “Zainab, all these spirits and everything, it is not possible.” Satanam told Zainab confidently. He was absolutely certain of his beliefs on this matter, but every now and then he wondered if what his neighbor talked of was true.  After all, he did regard her as a very pleasant, friendly and most importantly God – fearing lady.

                “Inchek Satanam, please come to my house now and you will see for yourself. You will see everything that I have been telling you about for the past month. Come, please. Come now. It is five fifty-five; they would have started by now.” Zainab insisted.

                Indra agreed to have a look and as all four of them leaped across the drain and walked towards the haunted bungalow, the sky began folding in and the birds went to hide in the rubber plantation. Drops of rain water fell onto their heads and some flicked about from the grass. The silent stroll to the door step was accompanied by the emotion of fright.

                Soon all four were anxiously sitting in the living room, talking and waiting. They were waiting for them. They were waiting for something to happen. The room was lit by a dim, red, lamp that sat at the far end of the room and the green walls that surrounded them had circular shaped air wells at the top. Around the living room there was a TV set, hard wooden chairs sitting against the wall and a long corridor could be seen at the corner. It was becoming cold, rain began to pour even heavier and bats flew in and out. You want to know something interesting? Well, if you looked up at the ceiling, you could find joss sticks tied in bunches and stuffed in between old, bent wires. 


                Something fell from an air well and landed behind the TV set. Everyone’s arm hair stood up and all eyes searched in the direction of the noise. Finally, they all saw a small, flat, grey, wet pebble.

                “They have started. Remember I told you about the stones falling in?” Zianab reminded Satanam.

                “Maybe somebody is just playing the fool with you and is throwing them in.” Satanam suggested. It seemed a lot more rational than to think that they were just falling in by themselves.

                Plop! Plop!

                Two more pebbles fell, only this time they saw it fall from the air wells and land on the ground.  They were sitting at the edge of their seats, waiting for the fourth pebble to fall. Satanam rushed to the window and looked outside the window, hoping to find someone throwing in those pebbles. There was no one, but more pebbles continued to fall in sporadically, creating small mountains behind the sofas and tables.

                “Now you must come and see this.” Zianab stood up and led them down the corridor and into the third room. Once everyone was inside, she bent down, pushed the door to a shut, locked the three rusty hinges into the ground and took five steps back. Satanam and Indra were beside each other, completely unaware of what was about to happen. At this point neither of them was terrified, they were surprised and curious. They were curious to know what could possibly happen next. You should take some time to think about this to. Imagine you’re locked in a cramped congested room. What do you think could happen? 

                “Shhhhh.” Omar placed his fingers in front of his lips and then pointed to the door. “Look at the hinges, look at them closely.” Four pairs of eyes locked their attention to the green wooden door and observed as the four small metal pieces slowly moved upwards and unlocked itself with a Click. They were no longer standing inside a locked room.

Satanam licked his dry lips and he struggled to swallow his saliva. He looked at his wife in amazement and terror. He couldn’t believe what he was witnessing and was unable to make sense out of it.  His feet were crossed while one hand gripped onto his biceps and squeezed it hard while the other patted his thigh repeatedly.

                “Oh my God.” Indra whispered to herself; her head shook from side to side as she covered her ‘O’ shaped mouth with her hand.

                “Inchek, this happens every day.” She stood in front of them. “It starts at five thirty and continues till the next morning. Sometimes, when I go into the kitchen I find my bar soap with finger prints on them, and these are not my finger prints. There are times when my husband’s helmet is found in the storage room when I left it on the kitchen table the previous day.” Tears began to fall down her rosy cheeks and she sniffed between every few words. “Every morning I collected around 60 stones. Inchek, I’m telling you there are spirits in this house haunting me.”

                “Why would they be here for you?” Indra asked. Her arms were folded in front of her chest and she rubbed her fingers together.

                “My husband is interested in another lady; a younger lady.  When I found out about it I confronted him and told him to stop seeing her. He must have told her for she started playing with black magic and with the spirits. She cursed this house. I found out after a few days when my things started to go missing, so I played with magic and placed a curse on her.” There was silence as she tried to find the words to continue. “The spirits have clashed.”

                “Don’t worry, Zainab, everything will be alright. Everyday say your prayers and God will surely help you. You should consider leaving this house; it’s not at all safe.” Satanam tried his best to comfort her. “There are so many homes for sale on the other side of town, near the kuey teow shop. Look there and stop playing will all this black magic and charms, you should not mess with the spirits, it is very dangerous.”

                Zainab did not answer; she only looked down at her feet in despair.

                After a few minutes of silence, Indra announced that it was time for them to leave. It was late and they didn’t want to stay too long, seeing as how Zianab was very upset.

                Omar rubbed his mother’s back as they walked out of the house and said goodbye to their neighbors. As Satanam walked back he thought about what he had seen in that house and the sad life which his neighbor lived.



Two weeks later:

It was two in the morning and Zianab felt something pulling the strands of her hair. It pulled harder and harder until she woke up and shooed it away. It was a brown plum rat.  As she looked about her she realized that she wasn’t on her bed, she had been sleeping on hard cement. The wind blew and a bat flew and sat beside her. ‘Wait a minute’ she thought to herself ‘I’m in my porch.’ Her eyes enlarged in horror. ‘But I did not sleep out here, I was in my room. I WENT TO BED IN MY ROOM!’



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