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Sunday, July 21, 2024


As we all know, the Hungry Ghost Month is already here and we are already past the midway point. The Hungry Ghost Month is also when Taoist and Buddhist followers burn paper money (hell money), joss sticks and food offerings to pray to their ancestors.


These offerings also appease the ‘Hungry Ghosts’, spirits with insatiable hunger that haunt the streets. As Singapore is a multiracial and multi-religious society, locals are taught about the festival as children. There are 3 simple rules:

  1. don’t step on any joss sticks or paper money
  2. never touch the offerings
  3. don’t go out late at night

Naturally, I abide by the rules and have a front row seat to the festival. I understand its religious importance and honestly don’t hate it.

Every year, offerings are left along pathways near homes and paper money is burned in metal bins late at night. Yellow embers light the ground with smoke trailing up to meet my window. I live close to the ground floor and am within earshot of the chants and prayers.

One late night, I couldn’t sleep too well and hung out with my elder sister and her cat in the living room. The night was deathly quiet and peaceful.


At some point, I realised I could smell smoke in the living room and figured the window must have been left ajar. From this room, the window looks down on the offerings on the ground floor. The curtain was slightly open.

I snuck over to the window and peeped outside. It was midnight, the metal bin was still burning and it gave the ground floor an unearthly glow.

As I closed the window, I hear something crunching below me. I figured it was a neighbourhood cat but was met with something large crouching under my window.

From my vantage point, I could see someone kneeling at the offerings. They had long black hair draping a white dirty smock.

They bowed over a spot with many offerings, and I thought they were in deep prayer (but it was odd since it was pretty late already). The crunching noises were growing louder, originating from the messy black hair.


My realisation made my knuckles turn white. I was rooted in fear, this wasn’t a person. They had no shadow in the light of the joss sticks and were actively eating the offerings.

Hungrily, as if they were starved for years. My elder sister saw me petrified and called out to me, whispering if I was ok. I looked at her, my words shivering as I breathed.

“Someone is eating the offerings.”

The moment my voice rang out, something felt wrong. The crunching had stopped. I looked back to see the figure standing straight, stiff as a board.

As it turned around, I locked the window and shut the curtains. I huddled beside my sister, she sensed something was off too. All was quiet until the growling started.

We looked over to the front door to see our pet cat growling. Protective of my elder sister, her furry coat and tail puffed up and she looked unbelievable angry.

My sister and I didn’t move for an hour as the front door shook outside, I could hear a woman laughing softly at the door.

I know I fucked up and had never told the rest of my family about the incidence. If my cat wasn’t at the door, I believe that thing could have tried to attack me.

As my cat no longer lives with us, I became very diligent and made sure every goddamn window is covered and locked by sundown.

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