A Visitation

(He told this story in English, although his primary language is Chinese)

You know that Chinese have a belief that the deceased relative’s spirit comes back to house on the 7th day of his or her passing?

So this happened to me when it was my grandma’s 7th day after passing.

We all head to bed early waiting for her to come back because she was cremated.

I woke up in the middle of the night with my room very very hot even with the air condition on.

Besides that I also smelled the smell of incense that Chinese people always use for offerings.

But it was impossible to smell that in my room.

Then outside my room I could hear people walking through the staircase when there’s no one outside.

The light switches on the wall can be heard going on and off again and again.

My maid suddenly felt somebody’s pinching her out of a sudden.

We also saw, through a slight opening of the door that connects to the toilet in my room, something moving.

In the end, nothing happened but that was what I experienced.


I: Did you really experience this? And are you sure that no one was awake?

Him: Yup, it was my own experience, and I am absolutely sure that nobody was awake.


Containing lots of East Asian cultural beliefs, this story departs from traditional visitations of the ancestors story. However, this story stands out in that it shows a few discrepancies with conventional stories.

It is interesting to see that he felt heat with the presence of ghosts. Usually people feel coldness when the ghosts are around us, but he especially recounts the hot atmosphere when he sensed his ancestors’ spirits. I think it seems to relate with the fact that his grandmother was cremated, not buried. Maybe the connection with the fire has contributed for him to remember the sultry surroundings when he met the visitation.

In addition, in traditional Chinese beliefs, people don’t hear or feel the spirits of their ancestors. They just believe them to coexist. However, he actually sensed the presence of somebody when he woke up. As he claims that he was sure nobody was awake, I believe that he wants to attribute some irregular occurrences to the visitation to his ancestor. It shows that the notion of ancestral respect is deeply innate in East Asian people.