As everywhere in the world Thailand is no different there are many horror stories some based on the truth, with a touch of exaggeration.
Before we go further with this tale you should know a few spooky words.
The Thai word for ghost is ผี pǐi.
The word for spirit is วิญญาณ win yaan.
Now if you’ve been in Thailand a while, the Thai attitude toward spirits is quite similar to Thai attitude to a human being. Some to be trusted and respected and some can’t be trusted and should be feared.
We all love tales of ghosts, don’t we? Growing up with a little sister it was always fun to tease her with haunted bedtime stories, her fear of pǐi is all because of me. Hee Hee!
This a ghost story that has been told and retold for several decades. It was said that the story originated in phrá ká nhǒng district of Bangkok. At that time, the district was still undeveloped similar to present-day rural Thailand.
There was a young couple, the husband was named Maak the wife was called Naak. One day when Maak was notified for military conscription and he would have to be trained in the capital for one year. So he had to leave his two-month pregnant wife behind with tears and sadness.
Maak then said goodbye to his weeping wife and told her to take good care of the unborn child. From that day, Naak waited for the return of her husband, several months had passed without any sign of his return.
At the time of the delivery of her child, Naak suffered acute pain and eventually died during labour along with her unborn child.
In Thailand, they call this type of death as dtai tang klom. Which means to die during pregnancy and her ghost will usually be fierce. Maak was not informed of the death of his lovely wife.
With a strong attachment to her husband, the ghost of Naak refused to go anywhere. She waited for the return of her husband at her own home. After her death at night-time, anyone walking past her house would either hear the lullabies sung by Naak from a long distance away or see her ghost holding a baby in her arms. In the temple, no one had the courage to go near her grave. The macabre horror terrified the people around there especially when dogs howled in a chorus. Some people who ventured near enough to challenge her spirit, meeting her face-to-face was said to be suffering from a high fever and falling hair. The news of her fierce spirit spread like wildfire. People were scared of her ghost so much so that her name made their hair stand up.
Once, there was an exorcist who wanted man prai, (an oil extracted from the chin of human corpse) to be used as a love potion, as he thought that if he could get it from a dead pregnant woman, his love potion would become more potent. So he made a ceremony and recited his magic spell to make her corpse sit up so that he could use the candle to warm her chin. Unfortunately, his magic spell was too weak to overpower the spirit of Naak, so he desperately ran for his own life otherwise he would have been strangled on the spot.
Since that day, the villagers had to live with fear and horror. The disturbance of her spirit made her a fiercer ghost.
Then came the day when Maak was discharged from military service. The delighted young man hurried to go home to meet his dear wife and his child. At sunset, he reached home and met his wife and a child waiting for him. He was very pleased to be able to be reunited with them and hugged both of them. His wife already prepared dinner for him. Maak was now the happiest man on earth, as he could now live with his family. He lived with them for a few days without seeing anything unusual. He only wondered that why his wife rarely went outside and did not let him accompany her while going out.
Despite her effort to blind her husband from reality, she could not prevent him from knowing the truth of her death. So when Maak had some work to do in the village, he met many of his friends who came to greet him.
Suddenly, one of his friends expressed sorrow at the loss of his wife and a child. Maak was deeply puzzled to hear it and insisted that he still lived with his wife and a child happily. His friend tried to convince him that everybody in the village knew about her death and he himself helped bury her body with his own hands. Tired of convincing Maak, his friend finally suggested that in order to prove it Maak should believe in the old sayings that by nature a ghost would not smile or blink their eyes. Above all, the ghost had no reflection in the mirror. (Just like vampires). A friend suggested that he should follow his advice.
On the way home, Maak thought of the words of his friend all the time he was walking home and it seemed inconceivable that as he lived with her all the time and he could touch her body but, at the same time there was no reason for his friend to deceive him either. To find out the truth, he would observe the movement of his wife from now on.
At home, his wife was busy preparing food in the kitchen. He told her a joke and tried to make her laugh, but his wife did not share the joke with him. He looked into her eyes and was surprised to see that his wife did not blink at all. Now he began to have some doubt on the well-being of his wife but again consoled himself it was just a coincidence. To make further proof, he looked for a mirror but could not find a single one in the house.
While stepping into the kitchen again, he saw Naak pounding nam prik (a sauce of shrimp paste and chilli eaten with vegetables and fish) and unexpectedly the lime used as ingredient fell to the ground. Naak suddenly stretched her arm through the floorboard of their elevated wooden house to pick up the fallen fruit on the ground. He was stunned to see the shocking scene which upset him. The frightening husband could not imagine as to how he could spend his love life with a wife who now turned to be a ghost.
Late at night, Maak was still haunted by the horror scene of the evening. He stayed awake thinking of how to escape from his ghost wife. Naak herself noticed the strange behavior of her husband and suspected that he probably knew about her death and was prepared to escape from her. So she did not allow him out of her sight. To be able to escape from his ghost wife, Maak pretended he needed the toilet, which was outside the house but Naak wanted to accompany him.
To convince his suspicious wife, he told her to tie his waist with a string that would enable her to detect his movement. Immediately after his wife agreed with the idea, he walked straight to the water jar downstairs and released the water from the hole which he had punctured during the daytime. The falling water made a noise similar to that of him peeing. He then untied the string from his waist and tied it with the water jar and ran away from home quickly.
After the long disappearance of her husband, Naak became suspicious of him so she pulled the string that was still tight and called his name. When there was no answer from him, she went out to meet him only to find that her husband had already disappeared. The sad and furious ghost hurried to follow her husband who now took refuse in the consecrated assembly hall amidst the Buddhist monks who were chanting. Since it was the holy place, the ghost or any evil spirits could not enter the area. Naak just sat crying for her husband and promised that she would not harm anyone if he agreed to come out and lived with her. He refused her plea and urged her to leave him alone as they were now living in a separate world. He would make merit for her spirit so that she would be reborn again and not to worry about him.
Unable to persuade her husband to come along, Naak then transformed herself into an ugly ghost with a tall body and threatened to strangle to death whoever was an obstacle to her love life. To calm down her spirit, the abbot then told Maak to accept the truth that she was dead and could no longer live in the human world. She should abandon defilement as death was a natural occurrence to all beings on earth.
The furious ghost then told the abbot not to interfere in her personal affairs and warned him to be involved only with his religious duties. Since Maak did not want the monks to be troubled because of him, he ran away from the consecrated assembly hall and sought protection in a bush of the camphor-plant which is said to be inaccessible to a ghost. Unable to approach her husband, Naak could only cry for him and waited for him to come out till daybreak.
Since then every night a ghost of Naak would terrorise the villagers so much so that they had to live in horror. No one could suppress her spirit even the capable exorcist had to run for his life.
Sometime later there was a Buddhist monk Somdej Phra Puttajarn from Thonburi who volunteered to put her tormented soul to rest.
Whatever may be, her spirit now lives in peace, people from near and far come to seek spiritual help from her and urged her spirit to help in time of need.