Growing up in the Hmong culture, you are surrounded by legends and stories of the supernatural. They say that you have more than one soul or spirit. When you die, the first soul stays with you in the grave, the second wanders the earth forever, and the last makes the long journey to the underworld.
The Hmong people don’t really celebrate births. Funerals are more elaborate because the dead need guidance to the afterlife. And when it comes to the supernatural, the Hmong people believe it all.
I say that Hmong people are a haunted race. Well, the Hmong people who still believe in animism and shamanism. It’s just my opinion that Hmong people are a haunted race because everywhere we go, our ancestors follow or we take our ancestors with us. So, we are surrounded by ghosts.
I have never experienced anything like what I did a couple of days ago. In the past, I would hear things, like heavy breathing in my mom’s dining room when I am at her house alone. Or I would think that I saw something from the corner of my eye. Or I would see things late at night, but disregard it because I tell myself that I’m sleepy and I’m either just dreaming or hallucinating.
Well, the other day was different, very different.
It was around 7am when my 8-month-old baby woke up for a bottle. Groggy and still sleepy, I looked over to Dear Spouse’s side of the bed. He wasn’t there. There could only be one place he would be at, and that’s the computer in the living room.
The door of our bedroom faces the computer in our living room. So, if you’re standing in the doorway, you could see the back of the person sitting in front of the computer.
I opened the door to see if my spouse was on the computer. And he was.
The night before my older child and my spouse were on YouTube watching videos, so there were two chairs in front of the computer.
Well, that morning when I looked down the hallway at my spouse, I saw a little girl sitting in the chair next to him. Her back was towards me as if she was watching Dear Spouse play CounterStrike.
I thought to myself, “What is my child doing up at 7 in the morning, watching her father play on the computer? Did they wake up this early just to play?”
“Honey! What are you still doing up? Were you up all night?” I scolded him as I kept my eye on the little girl sitting in the chair next to him. She never moved, nor did she turn around when I scolded Dear Spouse.
As I walked further down the hallway and got closer to the computer, I realized that the little girl had longer hair than my child. “It can’t be her,” I thought. “My daughter’s hair isn’t even past her shoulders.”
Dear Spouse got up to make the baby a bottle and I turned around to go back to bed. When I got back to the bedroom and saw my older child sleeping in her bed, it finally clicked in my head. I had just seen a ghost.
I wasn’t scared. It just felt weird, but nothing scary.
Well, that night, my dear spouse and I were joking around, saying that it was his grandma who came to see him. His paternal grandmother just passed away on the 20th.
Then I told my mom about it. She kept on asking me over and over if what I saw was real. I told her that I saw what I saw, and it is real to me.
When a Hmong person sees or encounters the supernatural, they usually seek the help of a shaman. And that is what my mom did. She went to this shaman in our town, told him the story, and asked what could be the significance of me seeing a ghost.
Now, you see, ghosts are omens and it is up to shamans to decipher if they’re good or bad omens.
The shaman told my mom to tell me not to be scared because it’s just a deceased relative who came to visit my spouse. He said, “It’s either her husband’s mother or grandmother (Puj).”
My mom, who did not know that Dear Spouse’s grandmother had just passed away, said, “No, it can’t be his grandmother because his grandmother is still alive. It must be his mom.”
The shaman said, “I can’t tell exactly who came to visit, but it’s either his mom or his grandmother. No doubt about it.”
I went to visit my mom a day or two later and she asked me, “Did your grandmother just passed away recently?”
Oblivious to the reason of the question, I told her that she passed away before this past weekend.
My mom then told me about what the shaman told her. It freaked me out because Dear Spouse and I had joked about his grandmother making one last stop at our house before she departed to the afterlife. And one of the reasons why she might have stopped by is because he is perceived to be her only favorite grandson. So of course, a grandmother would come see her grandson one last time before she says good-bye to the world.