My ghost is back. The mango rains brought wheezing; maybe they brought him, too. Last week I was waking up, short of breath, groping for my purse. Now I'm waking up in a ball, heart pounding, scared. Really scared. And it doesn't stop.
I slept last night with the light on after I woke up at 3am. I'm a damned adult, I thought, I can sleep with the light on if I want to. I can stay up for another hour reading. I can do whatever I please in the middle of the night. If I'm scared.
It was better to leave the light on than to lie in the dark, talking to myself about why I shouldn't be scared to have my foot dangling off my bed, exposed, stuck outside of the covers, but pulling my foot back in after a few seconds anyway.
This has happened before. It has followed me from the pretty, damp room at the back of the garden at the end of the peninsula to a crowded guesthouse to this wooden room with the window facing a busy street. And the only thing that ever worked is to treat it like a ghost.
The first time, I bought a bag of chips. I was coming home from some drinks with friends and probably bought one of the cheapest items at the minimart I always passed on my way home. I sat on the hard mattress and looked into empty room and said--I don't remember exactly what I said, but something like hey, I don't want any trouble, I don't mind if you want to be here, I just want to be able to sleep. And I bought you some chips. I hope we can get along. Maybe I said I hoped it found peace? I really don't remember. But I opened the chips and left them on the table, and slept until morning. And the next night, too. And that was it. I ate some of the chips the next day.
It happened again some time later--a year later, maybe less. This time there was less ceremony--I bought another bag of chips, though. And it went away.
An Indonesian friend of mine told me that was a mistake--that you're not supposed to give something to a ghost, because then they'll keep wanting things. I suppose I've made a mistake then. I'm not sure I can change things now.