The Mysteries Of The Underworld

Read this story about female spirits, pontianaks, pennungus, ginnies, ghosts etc by Dina Zaman which was featured in the Star, as was told to her by her nanny.


This story is about the Cave Djinn who lived in Bukit Puteri in Johor. There are so many stories about her.

Dulu-dulu (in the old days) … she would lend her crockery, which came from Heaven, to all those who came needing them, but everyone kept keeping them instead of returning them to her, so she would throw tantrums – and then, woe be to those who didn’t return her plates!

But this is another story about her I want to tell you, Na.

Let me begin my story. In those times, the Unseen and the Worldly lived side by side – unlike these days, when nobody believes in the supernatural, preferring to go to stupid bomohs to become rich. In those days, a bomoh was the intermediary between two worlds. He pacified the spirits and ghosts and he calmed man.

There’s a big huge hill behind the house. You don’t know it’s sacred, do you? It is, but that’s forgotten now. When Tuanku was alive, the hill was alive with shadows and ghouls, and that was where the orang bunian (fairies) lived.

Nobody, especially young children, was allowed to be near it in the evenings, when the spirits were at play. This is why we never allow children to be out of the house after Maghrib!

The devil would jump on you and piggyback on you, and when you came home, you’d fall down sick with fever and nightmares.

Bukit Puteri was covered by a dense jungle. From afar, all you could see were dark green leaves covering the hill, and when you came near it, it was pitch black. You could only see shadows of tree trunks in the day, but when night came, you couldn’t see your own hands.

It was a silent hill, and that scared the villagers even more because jungles were supposed to be noisy – monkey laughter, the roar of a tiger, the chirping of crickets – but that jungle, it didn’t even sigh.

Yet if you walked in it, despite the blackness and humidity, you swore on your mother/father/sister’s grave you were being watched. Sometimes you’d snap your head back, because you saw red eyes looking at you and sometimes you’d rub your eyes as if you’re blinded by the sun, because in that dense, black forest, you knew you saw black shapes running and darting around. How could that happen when you couldn’t even see your own hands?

Walking in that velvet blanket was tiring.

Not only would you have to sense your direction, you would fall, crawl, trip, scratch yourself.

The bushes and plants of the hill seemed to want to bite you all the time.

Sometimes you would catch yourself trying to suck up all the breath you had in you, so you could breathe in the dark. And you couldn’t.

You’d find one of the airs in your chest, throat, above your stomach, and you’d breathe in, hard, pleading to God to let you breathe, and when you swallowed, you’d have breathed a little bit only.

Now, high, high up in the Bukit, there is still a cave. The cave is now empty but, once upon a time, when your parents weren’t even born yet, there lived a Djinn in the cave.

Sometimes, brave men and women came to the cave and offered gifts to the Djinn so it wouldn’t frighten or upset them in the real world, and sometimes, they asked for riches. Gifts of bananas, rice, and salt were placed in front of the cave.

Nobody knew where the Djinn had come from or when it had arrived, but everyone acknowledged its presence.

Two ghosts lived near the cave. They were the cave’s caretakers. One was the Penunggu Pokok Pisang, and the other, the Pontianak, the ghost who lived off men. They were brother and sister. The Penunggu lived in a tree most of the time, deigning to come out only when summoned to haunt, while the Pontianak roamed the countryside, seducing stupid, hapless men into her lair.

What? No, that’s a Langsuir, a Polong that you have. You have your ghosts mixed up. A Pontianak is a female ghost who lures men to their doom – unless the men are clever enough to strike a nail in its neck, then it becomes a beautiful and obedient wife. A Langsuir is also a female ghost but it lives in the langsuir plants and haunts pregnant women! A Polong is made of human entrails and is owned by a witch. One day….

The story continues next month. This is a romance saga unlike any other!


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