I have yet to meet a ghost albeit I have heard many interesting and strange ghost stories some relating to our former army barracks and camps back during the Hong Kong and Malayan days. These ghosts were of course regarded to be Gurkha ghosts, spirits of Gurkha soldiers or their dependants who had passed away in various circumstances. In the unit lines, there were many tales of encounter with spirits of these dead soldiers where wives who were allegedly Boksis (witches) had caused some of these untimely deaths through their black magic. The main targets would be anybody that these ‘boksis’ did not get along with. To counter this black art, we had Jhakris (shaman) from the East and Lamas from the West Nepal, these were soldiers who had obtained this knowledge through their gurus back home before they joined the Army. When the doctor’s medicine did not work the soldiers and their dependants did rely on the help of these Jhakris (shaman) and Lamas – this was an open fact which even the British Officers were aware of.
Based on these tales shared in the Brigade I bring you the first interesting one referred to as the ‘Sungere Bhut ‘ (Pig Ghost) which held fort at the Bailey Bridge that linked the barracks and new Gallipoli families line with the old families’ line in Gallipoli Lines, Hong Kong.
Many spooky tales were told of encounters with this ‘Pig Ghost’ and one in particular refers to a soldier’s experience when he with his wife and their daughter returned to their quarters at the old Gallipoli families lines through this bridge having visited their gaunles in the new Gallipoli families lines. It was near midnight when they were walking along the bridge when they suddenly heard awful grunts of a pig. They did not think twice about it as there were pigs kept by the local Chinese farmers close to the camp. When they reached home, the mother noticed that the daughter had gone pale and was feeling unwell, so she gave here some aspirins to help her rest and sleep. Early next morning the daughter was still poorly so they took her to the Families Hospital. After examining her, the doctor confirmed there was “nothing to worry about” and that it was just a case of mild fever and recommended her to take rest for a few days.
However, her parents did not see any improvement but that she remained very quiet and was hardly eating any food, she seemed to be losing weight by the day and was not her usual self. This continued for a few days and the daughter’s condition gradually worsened. Word got around when his Company 2ic called the soldier to his office and hearing how it all started told the soldier that he was aware of similar cases where the ‘Sungure Bhoot’ (Pig ghost) that haunts the bailey bridge especially during midnight preyed on children and vulnerable souls. The 2ic then advised him to seek the help of a Jhakri (shaman) and fortunately there was one in the same unit. The Jhakri visited the home and performed a healing ritual and lo and behold the daughter’s condition immediately improved and within an hour or so was back to normal! Immediately after this incident, Hukum (an Order) was passed within the Unit Lines to avoid crossing the evil bridge at midnight. Believe it or not!!
Even the bravest of the brave falter for when it comes to ghosts for chopping a ghost’s head is unheard of. So, it was only natural to feel uncomfortable when detailed for guard duty at the Ammunition Compound at the Old Mule Lines at Cassino Lines, Hong Kong. An eerie touch added by the Gurkha cemetery close by.
This was made worse by the Ghosts taking turns as it happened it seemed to be the Chinese ghosts when the Gurkhas were on duty and vice versa. There was certainly lack of communication when the ghostly figures at a given time and on occasions sailed through the compound. The mystery remained alive perhaps due to this barrier in language.
A stone’s throw out on either hand
From that well-ordered road we tread,
And all the world is wild and strange:
Churel and ghoul and Djinn and sprite
Shall bear us company to-night,
For we have reached the Oldest Land
Wherein the Powers of Darkness range.
– Rudyard Kipling ‘From the Dusk to the Dawn’
It was in the early 90’s one recruit was drawn out into the cold night charmed by a ‘churel’ (believed to be the disturbed soul of a woman who dies during childbirth). This was to be one of the many such nights!
This recruit started to lose weight rapidly and always seemed lost. The RMO suspected it to be a case of TB but it was not so. As it happened one of the ‘gurujis’ who had white witchcraft knowledge sensed the recruit to be influenced by evil spirits. He immediately performed the cleansing ritual when he also came to know that the recruit was indeed possessed by a ‘churel’ and had on many dark nights been drawn out from his bed under a spell and taken to the nearby polo field and at times the athletic track, always dark and quiet areas. It is believed that such victims are entranced by the churel’s beauty and falls deeply in love, slowly affecting his mental and physical state to a very serious extent.
Fortunately for the recruit there was a Corporal on the drill course who was known to be a powerful ‘jhakri’ (shaman) who performed further rituals. It also transpired that had there been further delay in receiving these healing rituals the recruit could succumbed to the evil power of the churel and have lost his life. The verdict was that the lost soul belonged to one of the Gurkha wives who had died during childbirth in the Families Hospital. The joint ritual not only healed the recruit, but they were also able to liberate the lost soul of the dead Gurkha wife. The recruit eventually joined his Regiment. Many years later he got promoted and was posted back to the Training Depot.
For those not aware, such stories of ‘Jhakris’ and witches are not just myths but were indeed very much rife within the Gurkha families’ lines.
(Note: Names of those involved and Regiment cannot be disclosed due to the Data Protection Act!!)