Moeun Chhean Nariddh weaves some folk tales while relating the sad demise of the capital's best-known haunted house.
The haunted villa on Route 4 west of Pochentong airport has been knocked down by Vietnamese contractors following the ghost's defiance of the owner's deadline to move out on July 25.
Wearing a black uniform like the mourning color of death, the ghost was sitting at the feet of sleeping Vu Dang Young and wept sadly to beg for mercy, according to the workman, who was the last human being to see the ghost at the midnight of the deadline.
Young said in the next morning he prepared a boiled chicken and a cup of wine for the ghost, saying: "Please enjoy yourself with this food and forgive us for knocking your home down.
"We do this because we need money for our poor families."
Since then, Young said, the ghost had not come to disturb them.
Never having seen nor feared the phantom before, Young said he was still not afraid of the ghost and that he believed it must have moved to live in a big tree somewhere.
He said he thought that the owner would use the land to build something else.
The Vietnamese laborers revealed that they had been hired by the commune headman for $200 to knock the house down and take the iron frames for sale. He said each of his eight work mates was worth 40-50,000 riel or $20 from selling the iron, but that it was not satisfactory in terms of the ten days of hard work to demolish the house.
One of the neighbors said the villa's owner had given $300 to the commune headman to employ workers to get rid of the unfurnished ghost-infested villa.
Luckily, the commune headman came across the Vietnamese contractors who wanted to buy the house to get the iron frames.
Dating back to Sangkum Reastr Niyum days, the villa is more than 30 years old and it is said to have been built on a grave.
It was never completed as the male owner died while his wife did not have enough cash for the workers to put in doors and windows. Being in severe debt, the wife, Madam Thach, people say, quit and had never come back. But others say she hanged herself in the villa.
During the last five regimes, including the Sangkum Reastr Niyum, Lon Nol's, the Khmer Rouge, the SOC and the current regime, nobody had ever dared to live in the building, because they feared the different horrifying images produced by the ghost.
However, there were two groups of soldiers, the Khmer and then Vietnamese soldiers, who claimed not to be afraid of the ghost and tried to stay in the house. People say various incidents occurred.
All the soldiers who slept on the top floor of the villa, which was built on an isolated plot of land by the rail road crossing Route 4 , would wake up and find themselves downstairs in the morning.
Every night, people heard the soldiers exchanging gunfire with the ghost, which left many holes still in the walls of the villa.
The villa had been occupied by the hard-line phantom until mid night July 25 when the ghost bowed its head for the first time to the human being, noticing that the building would be knocked down the next morning.
Despite the fact that most villagers fear and have seen the ghost, there are also some who say they have never caught sight of it.
"Only the people with the ghost haunted crown would be haunted by the ghost," whispered a villager who earnestly requested anonymity. The man was afraid that the ghost would recognize him if he revealed his name.
In Cambodia, particularly in the country side, old people use ghosts to play a lot of tricks with small kids.
They tell children that a ghost will get into their bodies through their navels if they refuse to wear their clothes.
However, the old people kindly give advice on how to deal with ghosts by advising them to: "Take off your pants to the knees, stick out your buttocks to the ghost and hit them [the buttocks] three times whenever you are haunted and the ghost will run away."
Many children follow this advice until they reach maturity.
Old people also tell the young that a dog howls whenever it sees the ghost, and they would connect this to a folk tale which is often narrated in many different ways. But the following is one of them.
Once upon a time, there lived a man who made friends with a ghost. The ghost had a ghoulish magic plant which could make the man invisible.
One day, a family prepared food for the spirit who was believed to be staying in the body of their daughter and made her sick.
The man wanted to eat the food and told his friend the ghost to help hide his body. The ghost so did and was waiting at the doorstep.
Unfortunately, there was an achar ( wise man ) who had learned a lot of magic and could see the ghost.
The achar then used his magic and caused the secret hair of the ghost, who did not even wear underpants, to be burned.
Seriously wounded, the ghost ran out of power and showed a clean pair of heels without taking the magic plant with him.
The dog saw the magic plant and swallowed it. This has since made the dog able to see the ghost. That is why the old people say a dog howls because he sees the ghost.
However, many critics deny this explanation, saying: "The dog howls, because he wants a female mate."
Here is another short folk tale about a man who most fears the ghost.
Long, long ago, there was a man who most feared but had never seen a ghost. When he was returning from the paddy field one evening, his cart broke down at a quiet place near the grave yard.
A ghost disguised itself as an old man and walked to the man. "Good to have you with me, because I fear the ghost very much," the man talked to the phantom.
The cart was fixed and the ghost asked the man for a ride.
Along the way back home the ghost changed itself into different horrifying images to frighten the man.
The man was not aware that the old man was the ghost and said: "There! You have learned a lot of magic and could turn yourself to different things."
The ghost was at its wits' end and waved goodbye. Back at home, the man told the whole story to his wife.
"Stupid you! That old man was the ghost, you know," his wife shouted.
The man said: "If he was the ghost, why should I ever fear the ghost any more?"