Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Wondering Spirits

It was on board one of our vessels, "Renaissance I" when a passenger complained that he felt something unnatural in the room.  Not long later, another one complained sighting familiar encounter.  Then, the Filipino crew claimed they saw something they were not supposed to see.  Soon, words went around that the ship was haunted.  Our boss was concerned it will affect our load and therefore, decided to engage a taoist priest (sifu) to exorcise the spirits.

Through a recommendation, this particular 'sifu' was introduced to us.  My colleague and I brought him to the ship to conduct an inspection.  He had with him a small coffin which he carried in his hand.  When we were showing him around the ship, he will sometimes make a stop and then, placed the small coffin on the floor.  He will then open the coffin cover and then shut it, sensed around the place and then, continued on.  He repeated this few times.  After the inspection, he told us our ship was not 'clean' and he had to conduct a thorough 'overhaul'.  It was so urgent for us to restore our passengers' confidence, it was to be conducted on the same evening when the ship sailed out on a one night cruise voyage.  The 'sifu' had to quickly mobilise his team of disciples.  I counted at least 10 of them when they came on board.

First they had to find a lowest point in the vessel.  We found a small room in the engine room for them.  They then set up an altar.  The 'sifu' will start by combing from the top and lead the spirits to the room while his disciples will do chanting in the room.  I was curious and so too for my more superstitious colleague, we decided to follow the 'sifu'.  He started to pray starting from the highest deck followed by some of his disciples and two of us.  We had to sweep from the top to the lowest end.  We went to the bridge, we went to the open deck, we covered all the public corridors, we went to the casino while the game was still on going and I think we covered all the rooms too (moving from room to room).  'Sifu' was chanting some prayer as we moved along.  Prior to that, we had informed our customers that we will be conducting some prayer in order not to alarm them.  Our captain and officers hailed from Italy and they were also very co-operative throughout.

Finally we reached the lowest deck where our prayer room was.  'Sifu' then sat down facing all his disciples and they were deep in their chanting.  It went on and on.  My colleague and I stood by the side and watched the whole proceeding.  Suddenly, two disciples started to shake vigorously (a sign that a spirit was trying to get into that person) and 'sifu' sensed that.  He immediately held on to them and do a prayer.  He continued to chant and a short while later, they started to calm down.  It was already in the wee hour of the morning.  The whole proceeding took few hours.  At some point when the prayer was so intense, I tapped on my colleague's hand to get his attention.  He was a joker by nature but he was so serious and totally immense in watching the whole proceeding.  I then turned around and asked him, "did you see anything passing by?".  He gave me a serious look as if telling me this was not the time for any joke.  I returned back with a wicked smile.

When it was finally over, it was already in the morning and the ship was about to come alongside at Singapore Cruise Centre.  'Sifu' told us that there were more than one spirit.  He told us that the first wondering spirit found the ship and decided to make the ship its home.  It then welcomed rest of the wondering spirits to its new 'home' and eventually, we formed a group.  He further told us that he did not engage in any 'fierce battle' with these spirits but sought their consensus to leave the ship on promise to find a better place for them in the netherworld.  The few lights were said to contain their souls and the lights cannot go off or it will spell trouble.  We had to send these wondering spirits to Chua Chu Kang cemetery but before we could do so, we had to clear immigration and customs.  I walked in front to clear all the formalities while the rest followed behind.  As it was already daylight, we had to use an umbrella to shed the lights another person was carrying.  As I approached one of the customs officers and he happened to be a Malay, I told him that it was the spirits from the ship that we were carrying.  The officer must be puzzled to see someone holding an umbrella and another holding lights walking slowly inside the arrival hall.  After my explanation, he understood the culture (likely giving respect to the Chinese custom), he gave us the clearance to pass through without stopping us.  The spirits were finally sent to proper burial ground in Chua Chu Kang.  For the longest time, we did not receive any complaint on unnatural sighing on board.  Not very long later, I left the company.

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