My mother has always told me that my aunt, like her mother seemed to have a sixth sense. The following is what Auntie Grace told me yesterday.
I was around 13 years old at the time. We were still trapped in Kanko, unable to leave and trying to stay alive. We were fortunate to be able to stay in a very small private area of the temple there because of our connection to the Zen mission. The okusan (wife of the priest) where we were staying asked me to bring some water to their maid who was suffering from typhus in the hondo (main hall). I was afraid to go because the hondo was full of people dying from the disease. And yet how could I refuse?
I took the cup of water and walked to the far corner where the woman lay on a blanket amidst all the other rows of people ill and dying. I decided to go over quickly and place the cup near her head and run out as fast as I could before any germ had the presence of mind to jump onto me. However, when I set the cup down next to her she asked me to help her drink. I could barely understand her. This was the first time I saw a dying person whose slack jaw seemed almost dislocated and could not properly form words. What was I to do? I had to help her drink the water.
To my dismay, my good deed ended up causing my entire family to contract typhus as well. Then one evening, we heard a swishing sound outside in the roka (hallway). It was like the sound of someone walking in a silk kimono. The sound stopped just outside our room. We could tell someone was sitting down on the other side of the paper and wood shoji doors and had bowed down to us. My mother told your mom to go and open the door for her. However, when the door slid open nobody was there. Your mom looked both ways down the roka but there wasn't a trace.
“Ah,” my mother said, “It was the spirit of that maid you helped. She came to thank you.”
A little later, someone came to tell us that the maid had died and my mother told them she already knew.
I used to be afraid of ghosts but if you haven’t done anything to deserve their reproach, you have nothing to worry about. I’m not afraid of ghosts anymore.