Sunday, 31 October 2021

I don't know whether I have ever seen a ghost

but, with Halloween coming up, I would like to follow up on a blog post written by Katherine Langrish

I am not  even sure what I think about ghosts or things like fortune telling or anything else to do with a spirit world - real or supposed. What I do believe is that it is better not to meddle with these things.

I do believe that there are things we cannot yet explain, that we may never be able to explain. I also believe that people can have strange experiences, some of them pleasant and others not so pleasant, that cannot easily be explained away. It may be that these are nothing more than imagination running wild, misunderstandings about what is going on at the time, or from some physical cause we do not yet understand. There may be something else but I have no idea what that might be.

I have had several strange experiences in my life, not things I would wish to repeat. I remember not wanting my youngest sister to go and visit another young friend one day. Normally I would  have taken no interest at all in her going. My brother and I were  busy doing something else for our mother. I think our mother was probably relieved to have her youngest child out of the way - until the Black Cat fell off the little bike she was trying to ride and broke her leg. I remember our mother seemed annoyed rather than sympathetic but that was her usual reaction to any sort of medical problem. It was nothing to the fear and guilt I felt that  I had somehow "allowed" this to happen. It was ridiculous of course. It was not up to me to say my sister could go to play with her friend. 

Some people would say it was a "premonition". I don't know what it was but it felt real at the time, very real.

My maternal grandmother died suddenly. She went to lie down for her usual afternoon "rest" and never woke up. I don't think any of us were upset by this. She was not a nice woman. My mother admitted to being greatly relieved. My parents were about to leave their last country posting. "Nana" would have wanted to live with her daughter in the city. I would not have worked. My brother and I were struggling, really struggling, with her demands as it was. It was my brother who found her. Even now he remarks on how calm he felt then. He went to the retired nurse across the street and she took over from there. 

A week later, after my mother had returned to the country, my brother and I were alone in the house. We were in separate rooms studying when I felt a very strong urge to go outside. I had no reason to go at all. I was writing an essay.  I tried to ignore the feeling but gave up and went out one door - just as my brother was going out the other. We looked at each other. Then my brother said, "That was weird." Both of us had, at identical moments in time, felt the same compulsion to be outside.  We had both felt a sense of something, if not actually malevolent, rather nasty indoors. There were some muted noises inside and then silence. We waited for a short while and then went back in together. The house felt normal again. Was it just the over-active imaginations of two people in their late teens?

While I was at university in London I was invited to afternoon tea in the room of another girl in the hall of residence I was living in. She had a friend staying from her home country in Asia. Her friend P... had a reputation for being able to foretell the future. The others wanted to know.  I suppose they thought of it as part of the afternoon's entertainment. I had no desire to participate. The others did and she "told" them things that could have been taken one way or another. But she told one girl she couldn't tell her anything. After the others had gone and I was there with just the two of them she turned to her friend and told her that this girl was about to lose a brother in an accident. Now she knew nothing about this girl. Perhaps it was a fair guess that she would have a brother but the fact that there was a brother and  several days later he was killed in a motorbike accident in South America was something shocking.  The girl who had invited me to afternoon tea later told me, "P... thought the others were very foolish but she respected you for not wanting to know anything."

No, I don't want my "fortune" told. I don't want to know what is coming - and not being able to avoid it. I don't want to never have a nice surprise. The ability to foretell the future that way would not be a blessing it would be a great burden.

I don't know what I think about ghosts either. Tonight is Halloween and the children in the street want to "celebrate" it with a bit of fun. "Trick or treat" is not really part of our culture. I hope it never is. But, I am  going participate with a small "cauldron" of chocolate frogs and a friendly smile because that is what children need. 

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