26 August 2007

Do you believe in ghosts?

David McMahon posed the question on his blog, “Do you believe in ghosts?”

I could reply with a typical South African colloquialism and say, “Ja, nee”, (Yes, no) and leave it at that. The skeptic in me could say, “No way”, or I could take the Biblical view that would reinforce the skeptic’s viewpoint, but then how would I account for an experience that said otherwise.

Draw your own conclusions. I have shared this story with very few people, but blogging has opened a new frontier, so here goes. Let me start at the beginning to put the story and the events in their context.

My parents bought a farm at Shabani (Zvishavane) in, what was then Rhodesia in 1969. It was envisaged that as the only son, I would become a farmer when I left school and eventually take over when they were too old to carry on. That was my passion so during my first year out of school I gave it my best shot, but one year of trying to farm with my step dad was enough. I eventually left to make my own way in life.

During my year on the farm our three dogs were poisoned. My boerbull, Buster, my sister’s spaniel Rossi, which were our constant companions from our childhood and then there was Fifi, a real little firebrand and very far from being a “Fifi”. I buried them in a clearing on the side of the road about a kilometer or so from the farm house.

The following year, in 1972, I started my career as a cadet district officer in a little town called Selukwe (Shurugwi). The bush war had started to escalate that year and I was conscripted into the army for a year’s national service. A few days before I was due to go into the army, I borrowed my dad’s Peugeot 403 van to bring my belongings home. I got to the farm just as the sun was going down, opened the gate and drove through, closed it and then proceeded to set off on the last leg.

At that point the accelerator cable snapped and I was stranded about 3 kilometers from the house – but it was a comfortable walk along the road over ground that I was familiar with.

When I got to the clearing, where I had buried the dogs, it was in that peculiar half light that is common in central Africa, just after the sun goes down that I saw something moving in the road ahead of me. I assumed it was the hare that I often saw in the area. Just one problem, it was bigger than a hare and was coming in my direction.

I stopped and peered into the semi darkness. At first I could not see what it was, and then as it came closer I could make out what looked like my sister’s spaniel, Rossi, walking towards me. It was not an ordinary looking spaniel, but had a silvery, translucent shimmer to it. At this point my feet grew roots and I went icy cold. It was the strangest sight I had ever seen.

“This can’t be real”, I thought and closed my eyes tightly and opened them again, hoping to clear the vision. It was still there. Rossi had a particular way of walking into a room on a hot day, with his head down and his tail wagging in slow motion, as if to say, “I am hot and uncomfortable, but I will reluctantly grace you with my presence”. That was what I was seeing.

My first thought was to run, but it was between me and the farm house about kilometer up the road. My feet were also firmly rooted to the ground. So I stood and watched as it came closer and closer, until it stopped next to me, on my right hand side. I slowly shifted my gaze downwards and wondered, “What happens next?”

It just stood there slowly wagging its tail. At this point I decided to touch it and extended my right hand and slowly reached down towards it. When I reached it, it faded away and was gone.

The roots in my feet suddenly released their hold and my feet now grew wings. I made it home in record time.

What was it? I do not know. What I do know was that it was very real and try as I might to reason that it was my imagination, it was not.
I have also asked myself many questions over the years; Was it because my sister was visiting my parents on the farm for the first time since Rossi had died (she lived in Durban in South Africa)? Or was it a message? My step father was murdered by terrorists on that exact spot in March 1977. I guess I will never know the answer.

Do I believe in ghosts? I am not sure – the skeptic is still giving me a hard time on this one.


david mcmahon said...

Jeepers, MaX,

What an amazing yarn. You certainly conveyed the fear. I stood there with you and was rooted to the spot.

Riveting stuff. I'll be posting something later today ...



Shrink Wrapped Scream said...

Jeez, that's spooky, and your narration of it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I suspect you have a good many more tales to tell - I look forward to reading them!

Max-e said...

It was scary at the time, but that was fear of the unknown. If something similar happened to me again I would probably react differently. No harm came to me so why be scared...........mmmmmmmmmm.
Yes Carol I do have many yarns to tell and will start unleashing them soon.
I have another one in this genre as well, but that will have to wait for another time.

Anna said...

I really like that kind of stories. If you ask me, yes I do believe in ghost, different people see different forms and shapes of ghosts. The only thing is that I really really fear them and I don't know what kind of roots I will be growing in the ground if I saw what you saw...lol, anna

david mcmahon said...

G'day Max-e,

Glad you liked my Sigmund Fried post - yes, we would have many things in common, as I said in my reply to your comment.

Adding you to my blogroll so that we stay in contact.

And mate, you can never be on the wrong side of 50!



Max-e said...

Hi David that will be great. I am really becoming inspired to write again. Just don't know where to start

Cheesy said...

Just one word....


Max-e said...

Hi Cheesy. If only it also said boo and then ran off ...... but this was just too much for my little brain

living is detail said...

Great post. So beautifully told. I get self-conscious about telling these stories too but blogs do make it so much easier.

I had a similar experience although it was not in anyway scary. It was comforting.

My dog of 16 years died a number of years ago and I was devastated to lose him.

One day a month or so later I was sitting in my lounge room, alone, with my back to the couch my dog used to sit on and something made me turn around. There he was, sitting up, with a big doggy smile on his face looking young again and looking at me. He also had a soft translucent kind of appearance and he looked three-dimensional.

I didn't feel frightened. I knew somehow he had come to say goodbye. I don't know how long this experience lasted - I wouldn't think very long- but I felt the comfort of knowing he was ok and as I watched him he slowly faded away.

By the way, the light was good, I wasn't thinking of him and I definitely wasn't tired. This happened during the day.

Max-e said...

Hi living is detail, thank's for the visit and sharing your experience. Must have been amazing for you.
I find it strange how so often people who have not had these experiences try to dismiss it or find a rational explanation. The problem is there is not one. All we can do is accept the experience and don't even try to rationalize it. Your description of it fading away is what I also experienced - no trick of the eyes or the light ..... that was real.

living is detail said...

Exactly. When he faded away it was so gradual and the stages so clear that in the end there was the slightest impression and then he was gone.

This experience was amazing and very reassuring. I feel lucky to have had it in fact.

I agree that there is no rational explanation for this type of experience but when it happens to you...you know it happened.

I have no idea why many people don't like to keep an open mind on this one. It is healthy to be skeptical but it is also an easy position to take. Perhaps it is really the eerie nature of it all that makes people so dismissive.