As a teenager I had long since heard my mum talking about the jumbie that inhabited the house two doors down from us.
Our house, along with the next three along were built on the place where a garden used to be, more of a banana field really, owned by a farmer called Gibbs.
Our neighbours, Mr. & Mrs. Brown, who had Gibbs in their house for many years, told us that on numerous occasions, lights in their house would turn themselves on and off without the aid of any human beings.
Similarly, their TV would turn off whilst they were watching it and would turn on in the middle of the night. Also, a particular cushion on the seat of an armchair in front of the TV would sometimes have a very visible indentation, as if someone was sitting on it.
But the strangest thing was the smell of pipe tobacco that wafted through their house at different times of the day. No-one living in the house smoked a pipe, so that was a completely unexplainable thing that happened most days.
Mr. and Mrs. Brown got very used to ‘The Farmer’ keeping them company and as they got no negative vibes from him, they used to chat to him, saying hello and acknowledging him as if it was completely normal to be talking to someone they couldn’t see.
Now, my mum had told me about the Browns experience with ‘The Farmer’, but hadn’t ever mentioned the smell of pipe tobacco.
A few years later, Mr. Brown died and Mrs. Brown stayed in the house for a few years after that, until she moved in with her daughter in a nearby village.
I was 16 at the time, and several months after Mrs. Brown moved house, I was babysitting one Saturday night. I got home just after midnight, and what struck me when I entered our house was a strong smell of pipe tobacco. The smell hit me, no-one in our house smoked even cigarettes, let alone a pipe, so it was puzzling.
In the morning, I asked my mum if they had any visitors the night before, and if so, had they been smoking a pipe.
With a look of relief on her face, she said that she was so glad that someone else had smelt it, as she thought she was going mad.
She went on to tell me about Gibbs and the pipe tobacco smell in the Brown’s house, and said that she had smelt it regularly from a couple of weeks after Mrs. Brown had moved away.
Her thinking was that ‘The Farmer’ went looking for the Browns, unsettled at their disappearance and ended up in our house.
I smelt pipe tobacco in our house several times after that, indoors and in the garden. Twice when I was in the shower, I felt a hand touch my shoulder.
Strangely, it never scared me, I never felt threatened. After about six months ‘The Farmer’ left us. We didn’t have any more experience of him…..I often wondered where he went.
My dad, who was a complete skeptic smelt the pipe tobacco too, but wouldn’t accept it was a ghost, though couldn’t offer any other explanation.
One night, my dad had an encounter which left him very shaky. It was a very windy night, around 11 p.m, and a sheet of galvanize was blowing against something outside, audible from indoors.
Dad went outside to see what was making the noise and he walked down the short drive to the road and glanced to his left to look down the road. A tall figure in a long black cloak walked along the road towards him. He couldn’t see the man’s face (he assumed a man from the height) as the hood of the cloak was pulled low over it. The figure turned up the lane opposite our house and vanished.
Dad came back indoors, shaky and affected by the experience. He had no explanation for what he had seen and commented that the strangest thing was that the figure moved silently, making no footsteps along the road. The sceptic became a bit more open-minded after that.
Another experience I had many years later, involved a pet. My husband and I had a cat called Benji. We only had him for five months before he was hit by a car and was killed.
Benji had a habit of scratching his claws on our sofa when we were in bed; he did it every night before joining us upstairs.
In the week following his demise, my husband and I both heard him scratching on the sofa whilst we were in bed, on two separate occasions…..then it stopped and never happened again. Was he just letting us know he was still with us? Who knows….but very odd nonetheless.
My only other experience happened last year.
My mum passed away in 2002 and I often talk to her and have asked on many occasions for her to give me a sign that she is still around.
One night, I was watching TV late one night, on my own. What felt like a hand came down on the top of my head. I looked around, expecting to see one of my cats on the back of the settee behind me, touching me with a paw, but there was nothing there.
My immediate reaction was to say out loud, “Mum, if that was you, please do it again.”
I looked back at the TV and within two minutes, I felt another touch on the top of my head.
I admit, I sat and cried, and am convinced that my mum was responsible for the touch.
It has never happened since, but suffice it to say that these experiences have reinforced my belief that there is something after death.
I accept that everyone has their beliefs and opinions, but for me, jumbies definitely exist…… although I’ve yet to see one.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Persons are asked to submit stories about real-life ghost experiences, folklore, and anything related to [email protected] Submissions are strictly confidential, so do not worry. The column appears every Tuesday.