We prefer living with the dead

Living with the dead.

That's what a 50-year-old housewife does. Not that she has supernatural powers and communicates with the nether world as part of her hobby.

The woman, who wants to be known only as Madam Chen, said that living near the dead seems to be better than with the living.

She told The Star: "I've never experienced anything supernatural in my years of living here. Even if I live with ghosts, it's better than living with people because it is not noisy and there is no pollution in this area."

Also, there is the advantage of being secure.

She said: "I feel secure living here. Most of the time, I only close my door grille and leave my wooden door wide open."

Madam Chen said she has been living next to a graveyard at Mount Erskine in Georgetown for the last 30 years.

Mount Erskine is one of Penang's many Chinese cemeteries and is located at the north-eastern part of the island.

For the past few days, Chinese cemeteries there were crowded with people visiting the graves of relatives as it was the Qing Ming Festival.

The crowds may throng the cemeteries during this period, but for the rest of the year, Madam Chen's life is peaceful.

She told The Star that she will not move away from the place even if she could afford a bungalow. She is not the only person who loves to be with the dead. There are other families who are living within the cemetery grounds, and they have been living there for decades, the report said.

Growing up in the area gives a sense of belonging to Mr Yuen Kah Moon.

Prefers his old house

Born and bred in Mount Erskine, the 60-year-old retiree said he eschewed the comfort of living in a condominium to live in his old house.

He told The Star: "I have a condominium unit opposite this graveyard, but I seldom stay there as I am already used to the environment here."

He said the scariest encounters he has experienced were with snakes.

Said Mr Yuen: "I'm okay with that. I love it so much here that I even grew bamboo plants and guava trees outside my house."

Another resident, Mr "Lor Bak" Long has been living next to the graveyard since he was young.

The 65-year-old said outside his wooden and zinc house: "This house is more than 80 years old and I've been staying here since I was 10. I prefer to live here as it has the kampung feel.

"I can walk or drive out easily compared to those living in high-rise buildings."

He lives there with his wife and sister, while his children are working in other Malaysian states.

Mr Long, who sells lor bak (pork rolls) for a living, said he has never experienced the eerie feeling people would normally feel when surrounded by tombstones.

He said: "They (the dead) are like our friends. If we don't disturb them, they won't disturb us.

"We need to respect the dead and their graves. It's important not to dirty or damage their place."

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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