Monday, 9 January 2012

Earthquake turns sleepers to stone

Rumours force people to flee homes

KANPUR: Rumours on Monday night that a major earthquake may occur and those sleeping would be transformed into stones, besides several villages in bordering district of Unnao caving in, forced the people to run out on the streets.

Panic prevailed all over the city with people receiving phone calls that earthquake will occur. The near and dear ones advising each other to avoid sleep as it would transformed them into stone, besides people should be alert as several villages in Unnao had caved in.

People came out of on streets at around 2am and spent several hours in the open.

Ratnesh, a local of Khapra Mohal, said: "I received a call from a friend who stays in Lucknow on Monday night. He said that a strong earthquake would soon cause destruction, so get up and pray to God."

"I received frantic calls from my friends saying that an earthquake will strike. They warned me not to sleep otherwise I would be transformed into a stone," said Saif, a resident of Jajmau. It seems as it was all a game plan of telecom companies as mostly people remained glued to cell phone, he added.

Despite cold, many residents sat on the roads and in open grounds and returned home only in the morning.

"Rumours spread like wildfire between 2 and 3am and without bothering about chilly weather, the people came rushing out of homes in open areas," said Vishwas, a resident of P Road.

"My cousin alerted me and I ran out of my house with my wife and children," said Farhan, a resident of Chamanganj. It only revived us memories of a strong earthquake in Gujarat on January 26, that killed thousands of people and left lakhs homeless and the recent earthquake which had hit Japan, he added.

DIG Rajesh Rai clarified that they have not received any information about any such incidents, it was rumours spread by miscreants. He warned of stringent action against those found spreading such rumours.

"I have already advised my subordinates to intensify patrolling in the localities during late at night and identify mischief mongers involved in spreading such rumours," he added.

The Malaysian oily man

The 'oily man' strikes fear

While most people would be in deep slumber at 2am, residents of Kampung Laksamana in Gombak were wide awake, roaming up and down Jalan Laksamana 1 in Gombak, Selangor.

Around 40 residents all divided into groups of about five to 10 people each and fully equipped with spotlights and wooden sticks were on patrol in the village located about 2km from Batu Caves that Thursday morning. Although they were joking with one another, you could feel the tension in the air.

An outsider might think that a gang rumble was on the cards. But what the residents of this village were worried about were not humans, instead they were keeping an eye out for not one, but two, supernatural beings. They are under attack from a couple of orang minyak (oily man), they claim. This village has been buzzing with sightings of the two paranormal creatures for the last 10 days.

Many residents claim to have seen and heard the orang minyak around the vicinity of the Pangsapuri Laksamana and Jalan Laksamana 1. And they all say the same thing the orang minyak are clad only in their underwear and drenched in black shiny oil. They can jump from one roof to another with ease, and vanish into thin air within seconds.

It's definitely no laughing matter, stresses Aslam Khan, 33, one of the villagers "lucky" enough to have seen them.

As he describes them, one is tall, stocky and bald while the other is thin and curly haired.

"I saw the bald orang minyak hiding behind the water tank of a house at about two in the morning. It was breathing really loudly, like a cow.

"It was black and shiny. When I shone my light on it, the thing stuck out its head to look back at me. Before I could do anything, it climbed up the roof and disappeared," says Aslam.

He says they also found the possible spot where the orang minyak conducts its ritual of reciting jampi (mantra) and having an oil bath. The villagers stumbled across the spot after chasing the orang minyak into some bushes next to the flat.

"There was a large oil patch there," he says, pointing to the ground.

Adds Aslam, the next night, they found a packet of fried rice and noodles at the very same spot. After returning about an hour later, the food was gone, believed to be eaten by the orang minyak.

Supernatural or real?

According to popular legend, the orang minyak is a person who has undertaken the study of black magic and as a rite of passage, has to rape a certain number of anak dara (virgins) to pass that course.

The villagers are worried because almost every house in the neighbourhood houses a young girl.

One, they said, has already had a nasty encounter with the orang minyak.

As reported by a local Malay daily, the 17-year-old girl did not only see the orang minyak a few times, but also felt "someone" caressing her and calling her to go out of the house.

It reportedly also locked the family members outside the house on Christmas eve, forcing the girl's brother-in-law Kamal Bahari Satar, 36, to break down the door.

"We saw a black heap underneath the kitchen table. When other residents poked it with a bamboo stick, we could see blood stains," he was quoted as saying. It then fled to a neighbour's house.

After being "disturbed" for five days, Kamal decided to move his family out of their house, and out of the neighbourhood.

Unfortunately, all attempts by Sunday Star to contact him were unsuccessful.

Although some of these stories sound incredible and illogical, it is hard to find any Kampung Laksamana resident who doesn't believe in it, even those who haven't seen it.

The residents have been carrying out patrols from midnight to dawn. Every now and then, a team of youngsters can be seen riding their motorbikes in a convoy around the neighbourhood.

During the Christmas weekend, some 200 people patrolled the street, waiting for the orang minyak to appear and many carried parangs (machetes) and axes, says Aslam.

"Until we manage to catch this thing, we are going to carry on with our patrols. I don't feel calm although I don't have a wife or younger sister," he vows.

Muaz Amran, 21, another resident who has been patrolling the area every night says he did not believe in such a thing before this.

"I thought the thing existed only in the movies but it seems to be happening in real life," says the fresh graduate, referring to the 1956 P. Ramlee hit movie Sumpah Orang Minyak. He says that although he hasn't seen the orang minyak for himself, he believes his neighbours.

Another resident who only wants to be known as Man says he did not believe his neighbours at first.

Then, on Christmas day, he was woken up at 3am by a commotion outside his house.

"Apparently, the orang minyak had run into the next door neighbour's house but I just brushed aside the incident," admits the bank officer.

The next night, his niece, who is a university student, saw the orang minyak sitting on the wall of his house.

"She woke up when she heard something. When she peeked out of the window, she saw a black figure sitting on the wall with its back facing her," he says.

P. Mohan, 48, also claims to have seen the orang minyak at a house opposite his flat at about 12.30am.

"It was crawling up the stairs of the house, just like Spiderman. When it reached the top it suddenly jumped onto the roof. I don't think a human could do that. It then just disappeared," he says, adding with a slight shudder, "The hair on my hands just stood up. We can laugh and joke about it, but this is serious. All the families here have young girls."

K. Chandran, 49, has yet to see the orang minyak but he too is afraid that it will harm his 14 year-old daughter after hearing stories of how it appeared in an abandoned house next to his.

"I feel very scared now. All of us sleep in the hall with the lights on," says the scrap metal dealer, whose lack of sleep is evident around his eyes.

Chandran shares that he has even installed two additional lights in his house, each costing RM500.

"Ever since these sightings, we have been feeling uneasy. I even dreamt about one of them recently," he says.

Zaki Zainudin, 42, agrees that it has been difficult to get any peace of mind these past few days now they are startled by the slightest sound and get suspicious of every little happening.

"Last time a broken plate was just a broken plate. Now, we wonder why it has broken," he says, before checking to see why a dog was howling nearby.
Zaki then takes out his phone to show photographs as proof of the existence of the orang minyak oil stains and footprint of the orang minyak in Kamal's house. He has also taken a picture of a banana tree leaf with an unusual tear. It has been said that the orang minyak is attracted to the banana bud (jantung pisang).

What is clear is that this stress has caused residents to lose sleep. Those on patrol only manage to catch a few hours of sleep before heading off to work in the morning. All the residents also sleep with all their lights on these days.

Almost at their wits end, the residents have made a police report as well as getting help from a few alternative healers, including a bomoh. They have also been holding prayers almost every night to ask for protection from the evil "spirits".

Their frustration at the menace, and exhaustion, however, is growing by the day.

"I dare it to come and confront me now," says office worker K. Paramasivam, his exasperation evident, echoing the feeling of every Kampung Laksamana resident.

He claims to have seen the bald orang minyak in an abandoned house, before it climbed up to the roof.

His main concern is for everyone in the neighbourhood, especially the young girls.

"I also have a younger sister in my house. We can't be sleeping two or three hours every day. We are not robots."

But in a way this orang minyak episode has been a blessing in disguise for the residents of Kampung Laksamana.

Man observes that the slight "tension" between the supporters of the different political parties has disappeared in the past few days.

"Everybody is helping one another out. Everyone is together as one," he says.

The residents also agree that they are friendlier with their neighbours now.

Paramasivam admits that he never really spoke to his neighbours and got to know them before.

"At the most, I would just acknowledge them. Now I actually talk and get to know them. The neighbourly spirit has been enhanced by these happenings," he says.