This true ghastly encounter during the seventh month isn’t for the faint hearted

I’m not exactly a superstitious person—having studied overseas for more than three years, the logic of ghosts being on overdrive for only one month just doesn’t make sense to me. While everyone says that there are many taboos during the hungry ghost festival, I’ve often chosen to ignore them.

But last year (2015), it all changed.

Elderly people have told me countless times that during the seventh month, when someone taps you on the shoulder, you should not turn your head. Instead, you should turn your whole body, because turning your head will extinguish the “protective flame” on your shoulders. I do remember the advice, but how often would someone, especially in Singapore, pat on our shoulder? Not a lot. Or not at all.

During last year’s hungry ghost festival, after a long day at work, I alighted a taxi and was on my way back home when I felt a faint touch on my right shoulder. It was so light, it could have been a breeze, but I chose to turn my head, wondering whether it could be a leaf dropping on my shoulder or simply my imagination.

Nothing. Not even a leaf.

Back then, I did not give it any thought. Nothing extraordinary happened after that; maybe it was much colder than usual, but that was all.

A few days later, when I was putting on my shirt in the morning, there was a visible lipstick mark on the shoulder of the shirt. My immediate response was to call out my maid and complained about it. She was adamant that she hadn’t seen it, and that even if there was a mark there previously, it would have been washed away. I got her to wash it again, but she wanted to try cleaning the stain with something she learned from her friends (which I later realized to be rubbing it with alcohol).

It worked, and seeing that the stain was gone, I put the shirt back on and went to work as usual.

Being the narcissistic me, I usually take a few selfies per week, and that day, I decided to take one in the toilet. In the afternoon, while fighting my food coma, I made my way to the toilet and ensured that there was no one around before doing my #OOTD.

Normally, I would take a few shots before selecting the best and posting it on Instagram. But this time, one was all it took. One was all it took to make me pee my pants—literally.

The image of the selfie wasn’t just me: beside me was a lady (or man) with long, curly hair covering her entire face, with her mouth on my right shoulder as if she was biting it.

I dropped my phone and the reflection confirmed my greatest fear: the lipstick stain was back on my right shoulder.

Without picking up my phone, I dashed back to my office, causing a pretty big commotion. A few of my colleagues went to the toilet to retrieve my phone, and because of the drop, it could not be turned on again. My colleagues said they saw nothing strange in the toilet, but I was absolutely certain it was not my imagination.

While some of my friends said that the phone could be repaired (with some even sponsoring the repair cost as they wanted to see the “ghost”), I decided to throw it away. I discarded that shirt as well, and had several sleepless nights until the end of the hungry ghost festival.

Now, all I hope is that this year, there won’t be such an encounter again.

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Contributed by Richard Khoo

Featured Image: leolintang /

This post was first published on


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