A Special Visit from the Afterlife.

The months after my grandfather passed away in 1994 were difficult times.

The people we met, the things we did, and the places we went, everything reminded us of him. The house was enveloped in sorrow and sadness. My grandmother looked fine as she went about doing her usual chores but I was sure her heart felt heavy. My heart was, and I had been very close to my grandfather.

That night after the funeral was a Friday. My sister and I were upstairs with my relatives from London, and we were watching Fantasia on VCR after dinner. I was still feeling a bit hungry but I didn’t want to go downstairs alone and look for something to eat. I wasn’t allowed to switch on the lights either because we had prepared prayers and food for my grandfather’s voyage into Heaven. The house downstairs was engulfed in darkness, save for the few lit candles on the dining table. My aunt said I could go down and grab a fruit from the table that was part of the offerings to my grandfather. I stared at her in horror.

Me? Go downstairs alone? In the darkness? Are you mad? No way!

Why not? She asked. “You’re hungry, right? I’m sure he wouldn’t mind sharing.”

I think that night was the fastest I’ve ever moved. I ran downstairs, took a banana from the table, muttering a quick apology to my grandfather for stealing his food, and ran back up the stairs as if I was being chased by ghosts.

I was only ten years old then.

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A few weeks after my grandfather’s funeral, I saw a moth on the ceiling of my parents’ home. It was a small brown one and it fluttered from wall to wall. I told my grandmother about this and she said that my grandfather had come to visit.

Ever since then, whenever I see a moth at home (whether it was my parents’ home or the condo I’m living in with my husband, I relate with my grandfather dropping by the house for a visit.

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It has been 24 years since my grandfather has passed on. Pity he didn’t get the chance to see me get married or meet my husband.

Today, as I was about to open the refrigerator to make my morning decaf, something big fluttered up at me and I shrieked. I almost fell on my butt but I managed to steady myself. I looked up at the culprit and found that it was a moth. Quite a common sight in Malaysia, to be honest, but not common enough to fly up nine floors and land in our kitchen.

Tropical Swallowtail Moth

It was a tropical swallowtail moth, or the Laos brown butterfly. According to beliefs, this moth is commonly sighted after a funeral or probably during funeral seasons. I’m not sure how much truth can be found in this moth sighting but apparently the Chinese believe that the souls of recent death come back to visit their loved ones in the form of a moth or a butterfly.

Perhaps this had been my grandmother’s belief in the afterlife that when someone dies, he or she would come back in the form of God’s creation to visit their loved ones. When her husband (my grandfather) died, he must have returned in the form of a moth to watch over us.

Either that or it could have been folklore, or a story that the elderly would tell a child to comfort them in the event of the death of a beloved.

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