1. Yesterday as I was walking out to buy some dinner, my neighbour stopped me and asked me where I was going. She was wrapped tightly in a sarong, something she never usually wears. She said that a few hours ago, she was eating dinner with her family when suddenly her entire body started to itch and burn. She used up an entire bottle of cooling powder and another bottle of Balpirik -
- but nothing seemed to help. She had writhed on the floor and shouted until her husband got so worried he went out to find a traditional doctor. She said that someone had tried to 'buat' her (put a curse on her) and that she now had to say as many prayers as she could and read the Quran so she could fight off the curse. She also said that she knew who did it, and pointed to the house next door. She started telling me in whispers all about this person who never liked her and, according to her, killed their own mother. She said this person's mother was fine when suddenly one day, her leg went "busuk" (rotten) and she died. (I don't know whether to believe this or simply assume the mother had diabetes and nobody knew.)
2. One of the new tenants in the homestay is an Indonesian middle-aged man who speaks excellent English and worked in Australia for a few years. He told Feng Yi some things that scared her, and last night he told them to me too. He said that recently he had been hearing a lamb in his room. A lamb! And that 'someone' had put a finger in his jar of nutella. I am not sure whether to be freaked out or amused that the 'someone' must like chocolate spreads just as much as I do.
3. When I was walking back home from the warung, a plastic bag containing my dinner swinging from my wrists, a lady wrapped in a oversized black cloth grabbed my arm and stopped me in the middle of the deserted gang (street). She started hissing at me and said I shouldn't believe anything 'that girl' tells me because she likes to spread rumours about things that happen to her when 'the truth' is that she is just weak. She said that I should just 'jangan berkenalan' (stay away and not be friends) with someone who believes in black magic and curses, and that friendship with her will just bring me harm! I was too shocked to do anything other than nod weakly and when she let go of me my arm went numb from how strong her grip was. Today I have a bruise where she held me. If not for that, I would seriously have entertained the thought that I simply dreamed the whole incident up.