The Death Light

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This post is submitted by Anonymous

This incident involves a traditional believe and premonition as I was told later. It happened during the prelude to Gawai Dayak Festival or Harvest Festival. Let me explain a little bit about Gawai. In olden days, we Iban / Dayak depend on rice cultivation for living other than hunting and gathering. To appeased or to thank the Gods for a bountiful harvest, we celebrate Hari Gawai (which is also a public holiday in Sarawak). In modern days, we look forward for the Gawai Dayak as most Iban / Dayak who are working in the city or studying, return to their long house or kampung more or less like the Chinese or Malays do during the Chinese Lunar New Year or Hari Raya. As Gawai is celebrated on the 1st of June every year, we would make our journey back home to our kampung a few days before the celebration.
This incident happened during the rush back to my kampung. If I remembered it correctly, I was tied up to the work so I had no choice but t go back on the 30th of May that year. As my girlfriend (then now my wife) was working as well, we decided to make our journey late in the afternoon. I think it was around 4 – 5pm that day and since we live in the same area and I had to passed her longhouse before I reached mine, I made the route to drop her off first. When we reach her long house, it is already about 9pm (It took about 4 – 5 hours driving along the Kuching – Betong trunk road before we could reach our kampung). After I dropping off her, I proceed back my journey which took about another 20 minutes driving an unpaved, gravel and winding road. In my mind, I was already thinking about the Gawai celebration and all that had made me forgot that I was driving alone in at night. As I was about to reach my destination, I had to cross a bailey bridge on a small stream. I did not noticed a mold of gravel on the center of the road leading to the bailey bridge. At least not until the gravel scrapped underneath of my car which then I realized that I needed to stop and reverse my car. As I was reversing, I caught what I thought was a light at the top of the hill in between the tall trees and dismissed it a moon, but wait, the moon was on my right side as I noticed it along the way and was pretty sure the moon wasn’t full and was only a crescent moon that night. I stopped short and came out of the car to take a good look at the light on the top of hill. It was actually moving slowly in between the tree branches. The light was so bright that it was as if someone hung the gas operated lantern, those which are commonly used by kampung folks back in the days when there were no electricity. I took a good look at it for a good 1 – 2 before I realized that something is not right.
I got back into my car and continued driving, crossing the bailey bridge to other side of the stream. When I reached an open field where we park our car, curiosity got the better hold of me and I mustered all my courage to look at light for one last time just to be sure that my eyes weren’t playing any tricks on me. Sure enough, the light was still there moving away slowly from the hilly area. Just as I was about to leave the open field, a dog belonging to my relative started barking towards the hill area. The dog is usually left at my relative’s hut to guard against intruders from entering as no one stays in the hut at night. I picked up my back pack and left the place quickly. Mind you, our long house had yet to have a road access back then and it was situated about 15 – 20 minutes walk away. I had to walk to the long house using man made trail as it was often used regularly by our long house folks. Armed with powerful torch / search light, I walked as fast as my legs could carry me towards the long house. As I was approaching the river bank, I could not hear any noise or music blaring from the long house. Strange, it was after all Gawai and its supposed to be noisy but not tonight. It relatively quite.
I made my way up as the long house was located on ground. Still quite, I could hear people whispering as I reach the stairs of the long house. I made my way to the ruai (verandah) and I spotted my mum coming out from our Bilik (room) and immediately I asked  her why was it so quite. She told me that my late grandma’s cousin is already on her death bed and she told me she may not make it through the night and we may  not be celebrating Gawai that year. While we are talking, my mum lead me to our bilik and I placed my back pack as we reach inside and told her what I had seen on the hill just before. According to my mum, it was usual for people to see the light if someone is about to die. She asked me if everything was alright and I told her that I am fine just exhausted from the journey. By the way, my late grandma’s cousin didn’t make it that night and she passed away around 11pm the same night. We, that year, had no Gawai celebration.
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