Addenda to the Above (Below)


It isn’t my first haunting, not by any manner of means. The one I recall most poignantly occurred, over a period of weeks, in an old farm house on the Mahurangi where I squatted, with a friend, for the best part of 1973. Pukapuka Road. The house, now restored, is still there. Or it was last time I was up that way. I used to wake in my room at night to find a sorrowful woman wearing a long white gown sitting on the edge of the end of my bed. I never tried to touch her, or speak to her, or contact her. I believe I knew she was a ghost and that there was nothing I could or should or would want do about it. I don’t remember her leaving or dissolving or anything like that either; but she was transparent, in that I could see the ‘real’ world through the form she took. Other nights I would have a sense of some entity rushing with great agitation, but silently, ‘motionlessly’, down the hallway of that house. Again, it was just something that happened and I probably never even spoke about it. I was young then and generally in a state of agitation, emotionally I mean, myself. I didn’t know what to do, didn’t know how to live, didn’t know why I was even there. Days spent in pursuit of intoxication, nights of hoped-for oblivion, mornings of confusion and regret. In the context of my fragile mental state, I always felt that these visitations to be, not so much a haunting, as a form of comforting. As if I might have been succoured by the ghost of whoever she was. As if my own distress might have called forth a spirit who came to give me strength; so it was not for me to offer her some sort of validation. Like the angels in that Wim Wenders film perhaps. If I ever supposed anything about her, it was that she might have been someone who lived in that house before (it was a wooden cottage, probably late 19th century, and quite dilapidated). That part of New Zealand was settled by Bohemians, Catholic farmers from Mitteleuropa fleeing some kind of religious persecution at home. Obdurate peasant folk who lived, with great intensity, weirdly circumscribed lives. Perhaps I even thought, in my self-centred young adult way, that her dilemma, whatever it was, only existed in order to ameliorate my own. Of course she also resembled, quite strongly, my grandmother. So she probably was a projection. But does that matter? Is it even the right question? And where is she now – well, I can answer that. Howsoever else she may persist, she is, certainly, still at home in my mind.

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