Confession retold by Eugene Tay
This story was told to me in 2009 by a close family friend. This incident took place during the late 80s, early 90s era at Kaki Bukit estate, Singapore.
Kaki Bukit had a new HDB development that was built upon old kampong grounds and cemetery for those who can recall it. Our house faced a hill which leads up to an old mosque. Currently you try to find that place on the map, it would show just a cluster of new HDB blocks. No more hill, no more mosque, and apparently no more news of a Nenek Kebayan roaming the area.
I stayed there for 12 years before moving out to Seng Kang. I had 2 miscarriages in that house and the final incident is the most painful memory I had to bear. So to many people, my husband included, the legend of Nenek kebayan is a myth, but to me I believe that’s who was responsible for those deaths.
I had 2 miscarriages in that house and the final incident is the most painful memory
My husband was working in offshore marine line and I was a full time housewife. We were wedded for about three years and living with his parents in that time before getting a place of our own at Kaki Bukit. So naturally when the new home came we tried to start a family.
It didn’t take long for me to get pregnant with our first child. My husband would work shift so that would mean there was about 2 weeks to a month, sometimes, he will be out at sea. My mother would come by to help out during those times. So what I’m about to tell you is not just the ramblings of a pregnant woman, my late mother, bless her soul, was able to corroborate my experience.
I was in my third trimester, I remember. We were ready to welcome the arrival of my first born. That’s when I encountered this Nenek. Back in those days it was common for us to leave our doors open. All the neighbours pretty much knew each other and in the afternoons the Malay neighbours from downstairs would come to door to door to sell gorang pisang (fried banana fritters). We knew all the maciks (middle aged malay ladies) there so when the Nenek* appeared we were quite puzzled.
*Nenek literally translates to "grandmother". A polite term to address an elderly malay woman.
She wasn’t selling anything, she just wanted to come in to our home to congratulate us on the pregnancy. Although I remember feeling very uneasy at that time, I didn’t want to appear offensive so I let her in. She was quite unkempt and smelled stale like someone who had not had a shower in a while.
She placed her hands on my belly and smiled. Talking to my unborn kid in Malay. I didn’t understand all the words but It really made me uncomfortable. My mom was asleep at that time. She usually takes her afternoon nap and would wake up around dinner time. This took place around 6pm, I recalled, because I was secretly hoping for my mom to get up soon so I have an excuse to disengage.
She placed her hands on my belly and smiled. Talking to my unborn kid in Malay.
Eventually, I made an excuse to go to the kitchen to make her a cup of coffee. She smiled at me, her teeth were in terrible condition. That’s what made her so memorable. She merely nodded at me and kept that grin plastered on her face as I went to the kitchen.
From the kitchen I could see the main door. So if she had left my home, I would be able to notice her leaving; and she’s quite old and walked with a shuffle, so even more so it would be easy to spot her leaving. When I went back to the living room with the coffee she was no where to be seen. I checked the rooms, but no sign of her. I shrugged it off as probably something that I might have missed and was glad that she decided not to stay around.
That night I woke up with a terrible cramp in my abdomen. The contractions were excruciating but I knew it was too early for delivery. I bled all over the bed; my mom called for an ambulance but by the time I was taken to the hospital for check, the baby was gone.
By the time I was taken to the hospital for check, the baby was gone.
I did not see the Nenek anymore and didn’t tell anyone about it either. My husband and I decided to try again the following year and again in the third trimester, the Nenek appeared at my door again.
All the old memories came flooding back. This time I did not let her enter and I quickly closed the door on her. She was outside hurling insults and curses, demanding to be let in.
I went to the room to wake my mother up. My mom went to the peephole to look at the Nenek and immediately told me to stay in the room and start praying.
I’m not a very devout Catholic. I was introduced to the religion by my parents but besides going for the occasional Sunday mass, I was mostly Catholic by name. But that day I poured my heart into my prayers. My whole body was shaking in fear. I could sense whatever outside was evil. In my heart, I had always suspected the Nenek was behind my first miscarriage but now I’m sure.
From the room I could hear her growling outside and cursing. Then there was a foul stench so strong it was like the the sewerage had burst or something. Very foul smell and it seem to come and go.
Outside my door I could hear my own mother calling upon the Lord’s name. This went on for sometime and finally all was quiet. I continued staying in my room. My mother came in and comforted me. She didn’t want to elaborate much on it but many years later my mother revealed that through the peephole she was able to see the Nenek’s true form and it was hideous. She knew about such creatures from her growing up years in kampongs but that was the first time she has seen one up close.
Through the peephole she was able to see the Nenek’s true form and it was hideous.
I did not feel good the entire week; worried that I might bump into her if I went out so I just stayed home.
The following week when my husband came back, we left home only for my regular Gyne check up. That’s when we found out that my baby’s heart had stopped beating.
My husband does not believe in all these stories and attributed the miscarriages to me being stressed or purely biological. But to me, I’m going to my grave with the belief that it was that Nenek that took my both my children.
When I had my third child, we stayed at my in-laws place and there was not trouble at all. We moved back after the baby was born despite me being hesitant to do so but living with the in-laws weren’t very convenient. In the first five years that we returned home, I would sometimes smell that same foul smell at night and hear nails scratching on my windows, but no outright knocking or appearance.
We moved out of that house as soon as we could and thankfully till today I’m glad to say I had no other further encounters like that.
The legend of Nenek Kebayan has been passed down from ancient times to the present in the Malay community, with the most recent sightings reported in Perak in 2019. She is described as a hunchbacked old woman walking with a stick. She is believed to be a human woman who had acquired her powers through occult practices or making bargains with spiritual entities such as Jinns or Orang Bunians.
A video of what looks like a hunchbacked creature walking with a stick fits the description of a Nenek Kebayan.
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