In my childhood, my family and I lived in a house that was as alive as we were. We called it the “Kelang House” after the town it stood in. Exerpt from Michele Andree’s, Like Minds post.

“It was my very first memory, walking up the driveway to the Kelang House just after it rained and seeing a tiny bright green snake climbing up a black tree trunk. I may have been two and as I recall it was the first day we moved into this home on top of a hill in the jungles of Malaysia. There was grandeur to the place, not just because of the wide open yard that circled around the house or long stone steps up to the front door, but that it was once occupied by the Japanese in World War II as their headquarters. It had its own personality filled with ghost stories. I remember the garden teaming with frogs, turtles, fireflies and the tallest grass that let us hide inside of it.  My brother and sister and I would spend all our time playing and acting out stories in this pulsating garden far away from everything.”

” While living five years in this home, we witnessed it decaying. Molds, mildew, rotting wood ceilings were evidence that the house was being swallowed up by the imminent jungle. Plant life crept in as well as lizards in abundance. These memories are what now appear as glorious times. They are clues as to how humans soak in their environment and how it remains with them as some sort of fuel for the fire, lasting until death. Remembering how I felt then, takes me right back to the things that are most meaningful in life.”

I remember my parents struggling as the house fell into disrepair over the years we made it our home. From the roof caving in, giving way to the weight of bats, to the human bones found under the house and the mounting feeling of being pushed out by spirits, was more than we could stomach. My father would love to tell the story of how he and my mother found the Kelang House by driving past it below the hill one day and looking up at it accidentally. When he approach the house for the first time, he told us that as he crossed the threshold, he had an overwhelming feeling of coming home.  Having  felt this way once before, he could only describe it as an experience of “knowing”, a lot like when he told us how he first met my mom and knew she was his wife. In the beginning it was a magical, stunning place, like a stately home overlooking the town below, and when our time was up, it let us know.

In college, one of my assignments was to tell a story through images on cloth using a color copier.  I rummaged through my parents collection of photo albums when at home one winter break and found a picture of Christmas morning, 1975? Probably one of the best Christmases ever, where I was given this tricycle with a back seat!  How I longed for that one.

The images read as a book with pages made of china silk sewn over a thin padding. Photos, which are heat transferred to the fabric, tell the tale of a house being consumed by itself. I remember a Yugoslavian girl in my class, as I presented this, saying rather angrily, “there are no such things as ghosts!” Feeling regrettable about defending myself, since I was worried of this kind of reaction in the first place, it was such relief  to find the rest of the class coming to my side, for each person had a ghost story to tell with an enthusiastic gleam in their eye.