Malaysia has her fair share of spooky tales and hauntings, but did you know about the ghost of Janet who supposedly haunts the people of Kuching till this very day?
The tale stems from the construction of Kuching’s Satok Bridge in the late 60s. It was rumoured that the process wasn’t easy, and that there were a lot of problems with the construction, which led people to believe that there were spirits being territorial and needed to be appeased.
Janet is said to be a young Chinese nurse working at Sarawak General Hospital. On her way home from work one day, she vanished, believed to be kidnapped. At the time, similar kidnappings were rampant in Kuching, and the disappearances were believed to be ritual killings to appease spirits hindering the Satok Bridge construction.
There are many versions of the story, but it was believed that the victims were beheaded and the head embedded in the pillars of the bridge to build a stronger structure, linking it to the olden days of headhunting.
Poor Janet’s headless body was eventually found, and in their grief, her parents buried her in red shoes and a red dress. The Chinese believe that if the deceased was buried in red clothes, they would return as ghosts, and if they died a particularly gruesome death, they would come back to seek revenge. Perhaps, the grief was too much for Janet’s parents.
The sightings began not long after. It was said that a women clad in red can be seen wandering around Kampung Kudei, holding a red umbrella. She was also seen on rides across the Sarawak River and the fare she paid will turn to Chinese hell notes or leaves, causing ferry operators to stop working after 10pm.
There were also instances of a mysterious lady in red hitching rides with motorcyclists near the bridge. However, when the motorcyclist turn back to talk to the lady, she’s nowhere to be seen and the back of the motorcycle is left with a rotten smelling stain. There were also sightings of Janet around the hospital she once worked at.
The ghost of Janet is not only known among locals, but has also captured the imagination of the world, like Japanese illustrator and writer, Yuzo Takada, who dedicated three chapters entitled “The Red Rain of Malaysia” in his manga, “3 X 3 Eyes”.
The legend has also been adapted into a movie, produced by KRU Films titled “Janet – Sumpah Terlarang”. It was said that during the shooting of the movie, the cast and crew experienced some strange occurrences, like the unexpected visit of a venomous snake.
The legend of Janet may not be well known today as it was 50 years ago, but her legend is so great that Kuchingites refused to mention her name in fear of getting a visit from her at night.
So if you stumble upon a lady in red wandering around the streets of Kuching, it’s probably best to walk away quietly…