The Faith Healer
It was a rainy day, just slightly after mid-noon. My handphone rang… “Private Number”
Hi! My name is Adam. I am calling from Johor Bahru. I saw your article in the papers today and I would like to share something with you… Are you free for a chat?
By God’s will, I have the ability to cure people. I hope that you will spread this word to anyone out there who is suffering from prolonged diseases or even disabilities. I can help them, be it an ordinary flu or chronic diabetes or even spiritual possession.
If you have been living with a stubborn migraine and no drugs seem to work anymore, or if you have a very bad backache and the doctor can’t find anything wrong with you, high chance there is a supernatural influence. Even not, I can still try to help.
I sneezed… Excuse me.
Are you having cold? How long has it been?
Errr… No, it is raining heavily. Rather cold here. Please go on.
You may think it is a normal cold but you can never know. You could be sneezing every morning at about the same time but you are unaware of it. Don’t you find it strange? So you see, what I do is that, I will analyse the problem and then do a little homework to determine the actual cause. I will then pay the patient a visit.
There was this lady in Jurong, been really sick for a long time. The doctor claimed that there was something wrong with her kidneys or lower back. But I checked and found out that there’s another side to the story. There was a “person” from the unseen world who liked her. In fact, the spiritual being was living “inside” her! Hence causing her all the pain and discomfort.
Serious ah! How is she now?
She is fine now. I managed to chase it out… All praises to God.
Do you treat both male and female? No restrictions? What is the actual procedure like?
I treat my patients in a common area, example the living room. The family members and everyone else can be my witness during the process. Especially so when I am treating a female patient. I will first seek permission from her parents or husband. This is to avoid any allegations against me.
I don’t hide my actions and I don’t touch unless absolutely necessary, that too with permission and supervision from the family, of course. I am not like a typical bomoh. I don’t use smoke or fire, I don’t need incense burner and I don’t have any jinns or “slave ghosts”. I rely on the words of God. I have a permanent day job. This is not my full time profession and I don’t earn a living from it. I sincerely want to help.
Are you treating anyone currently?
Actually yes. I am going down to Woodlands this weekend. You are most welcomed to join me.
Great! Can you briefly tell me what is it about? Do you mind if we document the entire process?
Be my guest. I believe it’s a possession. Here’s the address…
I was very eager to meet the ‘bomoh’.Adam does not want to be known as one, but there is no better way to describe him. Medicine Man sounds a bit too Zulu. I figured that he would be dressed in at least a baju kurung. With a Javanese hat or a red cloth tied around his head and probably with tiger bones, amulets or huge black beads hanging down from his neck. His lips would be bloody red from chewing of betel leaves and his eyes sunken with obvious black rings.
But my imaginary image of Adam vanished the moment we stepped into the four-room flat at Woodlands. He was not like what I had expected. Somehow, I managed to identify him even before we were introduced. Adam has fair a complexion, casual but smartly dressed and quite pleasant looking.
The patient, Madam Senah, was very weak and she couldn’t walk properly. Her every step was nothing but pain, like walking barefooted on broken glasses. She has been suffering from severe stroke for nearly ten years. Frequent visit to the hospital wasn’t of much help. She was beginning to have memory lapse and she was even seen talking to herself. Her children feared for her health and safety and decided to consult a family friend, who recommended that they call Adam. We sat in the living room as Adam prepared himself. The television set was switched off and everyone in the house gathered around. There was silence…
Is your mother keeping anything that she inherits from her ancestors?
Madam Senah’s immediate family looked at each other and then shrugged. Adam continued…
There is definitely something in this house. Think!
Oh! Yes, I believe so! Madam Senah’s son whispered something to his wife and then jumped up in excitement. I’ll go get it! He went into a room and emerged with a yellow bundle in his hands.
Ah! That has to be it. Bring it to me!
Slowly, Adam unfolds the stained yellow cloth. In the bundle, was a rusty keris – a traditional Malay dagger with wavy blade. Adam smiled…
Ni bukan sebarang keris. Ada saka nya ni!
This is no ordinary keris. There’s a spirit inside!
Barangkali gangguannya ada kena mengena dengan keris ni. Nak buangkan saka nya? Kalau nak senang aje… Saya boleh buatkan.
Her condition is most probably related to this keris. Would you like to remove the spirit? It’s easy, I can do it.
Madam Senah’s son agreed. Adam shifted his position and placed the yellow bundle together with the keris on the table in front of him. Everyone grew silent again. I watched on with keen interest.
Adam started to mutter something, almost in a whisper. I could barely make out anything. His lips were quivering slightly and his eyes shut. He held out his right hand above the yellow bundle, suddenly bulged his eyes and began the action of like extracting or pulling something invisible out of the keris and then sort of, throw it away, literally. His actions reminded me of the healing ceremony I witnessed in the Kuda Kepang.
Adam repeated the same thing again and then announced that the keris has been cleansed and harmless enough to be used as a décor in the house. The entire process was very brief and only lasted for a few seconds.
Adam said that the ancient keris has been passed down from generation to generation and Madam Senah was possibly the last in line. He added that the keris has its brothers, meaning there are other keris of the same origin and still actively used. Adam inquired on Madam Senah’s family background, and her son revealed.
Madam Senah was from an area known as Kaspan in Batu Pahat, Malaysia. According to her son, she is actually a royal descendant, her roots tracing back all the way to Indonesia. Her great grandfathers held the title of “Raden” and they were known to possess supernatural abilities. Part of their family rituals required them to fast and go without food or water for six days straight.
Madam Senah’s husband was also once a learned man. In a shaky voice, Madam Senah added that he used to meditate in Kubur Wak Selat, an old Malay cemetery in Singapore. Often he would receive visits from a huge shadowy figure at night, one of the signs that his rituals were effective.
The keris was passed down to Madam Senah from one of her forefathers. According to Adam, similar keris are now in Malaysia. He reckons that one of them is in Pulau Besar, an island near Malacca. He believes there are about five or seven of them, previously owned by ancient Malay warriors. A relative, who was present during the session, agreed with Adam.
The keris on its own is nothing but a sharp dagger commonly used in the martial art of Silat. According to traditional belief, the unseen creatures love similar dagger-like weapons, especially traditional or ancient ones. Given the proper ceremony, spirits can be attracted to it almost permanently. These spirits or even ghosts reside inside the keris itself, hence blessing it with special powers. This explains why a bomoh usually carry a keris with him during his healing sessions. It is normally not the bomoh who has supernatural abilities, but the spirit in the keris.
Due to its spiritual contents, some also believed that a keris needs human blood to sustain itself – Food for the spirit. It can be a mere drop from its owner, but for best effect, it has to have its fair share of victims, especially so if owned by a warrior. More deaths the better. The owner of the keris will then be virtually indestructible. The only way to defeat or even kill the warrior is to use his own keris against him.
Legendary Malay warriors Hang Tuah and Hang Jebat are known for their superb Silat skills. Both were extensively trained in keris fighting. They were appointed as state marshals and presented with a keris each by the Sultan. Being the older brother and his guru’s favourite disciple, Hang Tuah was regarded as the best of the lot. But it was his royal keris, the Taming Sari that bestowed Hang Tuah with the outstanding edge over the rest.
After a feud in the palace and in the absence of Hang Tuah, Hang Jebat ran amok and stole Taming Sari. Guards were ordered to arrest him but failed. Hang Jebat became invincible. With the Taming Sari in his hand, even Hang Tuah could not subdue him. But by chance, Hang Jebat was quickly disarmed and Hang Tuah finally killed him, using the Taming Sari.
This short excerpt of history illustrates the speciality of the keris. The keris has always been a vital component in the Malay culture. Today, keris is more commonly used as a home décor, often treasured for its historical and commercial worth.
Madam Senah used to dress her keris and perform special rites and rituals. On specific nights, she would sharpen it, run it over incense smoke and then cleanse the keris with lime. The yellow cloth that wraps around the keris is believed to be its original fabric.
I took a closer look on the keris and found dark brown stains on the blade as well as the dirty yellow cloth.
I shuddered at the thought of the unfortunate victims…
The Malay word ‘saka’ usually describes a ghost or other ‘assets’ of the like inherited from previous generations, or, a ghost or spirit that has been dwelling in a body or property for a very long time, in this case the keris. The Javanese term ‘prewangan’ is used when something or even someone employs an unseen spiritual force, directly or not, to render assistance for better or even incredible results. Allegedly, some traditional Malay masseurs are said to use prewangan. Have you ever wondered, how an old hunchback lady is able to massage over twenty bodies everyday, each with equally strong grips and strength? I was told that if you have the third eye you would be able to see something else, the prewangan, actually doing the massage.
Adam listened to all the details attentively and then announced that it was time to treat Madam Senah. I was thrilled! I reconfirmed with everyone that it was alright for me to document the procedure. Upon receiving the green light, I positioned myself next to Adam.
Madam Senah was instructed to sit on the floor, lean against the wall comfortably and straighten out her legs. Adam told her to relax and blank her mind. He then sat near her feet.
Adam muttered something briefly and began the same actions.
Adam held out his right hand towards Madam Senah’s head.His fingers were fully outstretched as he moved his hand down slowly towards Madam Senah’s tummy, all the way to her feet and off. Unlike the keris, Adam seemed to extract something heavier out of Madam Senah. Both his hands were visibly trembling. He repeated the actions again for a few times – sort of gather-and-drag the impurities from Madam Senah’s head down before discarding them away through her feet.
Adam paused and asked Madam Senah how she felt.
Adam repeated the same thing again. His actions were very much confined to the same steps.
I was beginning to feel slightly bored.I threw a glance at my crew and I believed they felt the same way too. There was one particular sceptic in our group. From the looks on his face, I knew he wasn’t the least impressed.
But Madam Senah did show some physical improvement. Without help from her son, she stood up readily and began walking around in the house. She staggered a little bit, but it was certainly better than the first time I saw her. Even her facial expression had changed. If she appeared to be clueless and always in a daze before, but after the treatment, there was light on her face and she was smiling as she walked about. The audience was obviously pleased.
The family requested that Adam take a look at another relative. I then realised that they have invited their ‘unwell’ relatives over. The next patient was another old lady who complained that her back felt unbearably heavy all the time, so much that she had to bend over slightly even while siting down. Adam was quick to explain that there was something clinging on to her back.
The next patient relaxing while awaiting treatment.
But this old lady was tougher than I thought. After the same gather-and-drag technique, Adam asked if she felt any better. She blatantly said no, “Sama aje” (still the same). She wore a blank unconvinced expression on her face and for the first few seconds, I knew Adam was stunned. I was sure he did not see that coming.
Adam repeated his process again for a few times. And all the while the old lady just looked down. She was clearly not impressed one bit. Adam stopped and asked her again, and again she refused Adam his credits! It wasn’t until a few more attempts that the old lady finally said that she felt slightly better. Whether it was genuine, forced or out of pity, Adam was most relieved.
Adam’s fist clenched tightly as he dragged the spirit out.
And then there was this guy who was ‘suffering’ from something quite unusual. Could be a blessing in disguise, but he was always feeling sleepy and had the constant tendency to sleep! And then there was another lady who were experiencing pain in her legs, and another who had a headache. Basically they all took turns, one by one. Each lasting only three minutes the most. It was almost like a fast-forward holy celebration. But be it sleeping disorder or other ailments, the procedure was still the same.
Adam explained that during his healing process, the patient would either feel particularly
warm, cold, cramp or experience a sudden gush of blood through the affected area.
I asked if there were any repercussions or side effects.Adam said yes, especially in cases where black magic bomohs are sought upon for revenge. The bomoh would send his spirits or ghosts to teach Adam a wicked lesson for helping the victim. But Adam has always been strong and triumphant.
Madam Senah’s son receiving his treatment.
I sat down and watched on. I was literally minding my own business, when suddenly Adam looked at me and announced to the whole world…
“There’s something in YOU!”
I was caught by surprise! I could sense more than twenty eyeballs looking right through me. I felt naked and instantly embarrassed. Even a doctor wouldn’t proclaim out loud in his clinic that his patient has AIDS! Now, I had been thinking what has oversleeping got to do with ghosts. And after witnessing the same miraculous healing techniques over and over again, I was almost ready to put on the Sceptic tag myself. So when Adam pointed at me, I was grumbling inside – Are you running out of patients or what?!
Adam pulling the spirits out with much force.
Madam Senah’s son was quick to ‘cheer’ me on. “C’mon lah, give it a try. Let him remove it for you.” He reminded me of the early Malay generation portrayed in black and white movies – very superstitious, naïve and easy to fool…
But I kept my integrity intact. Next to God, I know myself better than possibly anyone else. And I know I am very much sane and healthy, and definitely not possessed in any way. No doubt about it! I respect Adam and his psychic abilities, but I decided to ‘challenge’ him on this one…
So what is inside me?
Benda halus lah…
Is it good or bad?
Dah benda halus mestilah tak baik…
If it’s a spiritual being then it has to be bad.
I was slightly irked. It is the general understanding that the unseen world is similar to ours – There’s good and evil. I believe it is incorrect to simply label them all as bad.
Strange, how come I don’t feel anything. How long has it been inside me?
Adam paused for a second…
Three years?? This is ridiculous! I exclaimed silently. Adam was too quick to jump into conclusions. He could have been too confident and his credibility was indirectly questioned when I refused the ‘harmless treatment’, as Madam Senah’s son put it. I mean, if one is really sick, surely he would not refuse any treatment, right?
I apologised and declined again when Adam made a second offer to treat me. I have my reasons for doing so. God willing, I know I am fine and spiritually sound. But I have also heard stories about how a bomoh would look for innocent victims to part his abilities and ghost slaves to silently, in the pretence of healing or helping them. The bomoh would not die in peace, or continue to suffer very strange diseases until his ‘assets’ are transferred to someone else. The best person would be his immediate family member. But in times of desperation, literally anyone is a potential guinea pig. Thanks but no thanks!