Mamerto Adan is a feature writer who is back in college once again. Science is one of his favorite topics.
This story is bizarre, and at times, hard to stomach. But at least, the individual involved had the guts to share it.
I always thought that I will stop seeing strange and unnatural stories in the 21st century. As it turns out oddities are part of humanity, hence being in modern age will never stop mankind from being weird. And such weirdness will sometimes equate to mystery, almost supernatural, that will lead one to question the rationality of daily life. That perfectly explains why we will find perfectly sane people believing in insane beliefs, because as we seek more answers in life, it tends to raise more questions.
Take for example this story that happened in the first decade of the 21st century.
To begin with, it came from the internet. And experience taught us to be weary of stuffs from the internet, as there are plenty of hoaxers out there. And after doing basic fact checking, I then certified that this story is true indeed. And to give you an idea, have you seen the Hellraiser movie? If you did, then you must be familiar with Pinhead, the supernatural masochist with err, pins on his head. Then imagine a real-life person with metallic something stuck on her body like Pinhead.
Somewhere in Indonesia, a woman never had a head-full of pins. But she had problems she can’t stomach.
The Woman named Noorsyaidah
Again, this story wasn’t a new one. After doing research, this story surfaced around 2008. It appeared in news outlet like the Jakarta post. Even now, it continues to intrigue people due to the unsolved nature of the case.
Somewhere in Sengata, East Kutai, Indonesia, there is a woman identified as Noorsyaidah. By profession, she is a kindergarten teacher, and by all standards, just a usual Indonesian woman. Almost, because she had this rather disorder that seems to erupted from the pit of her stomach.
Since 1991, something painful was going on. On her chest and belly, real metal wires have grown and fallen. When she reported her case to the A Wahab Syahranie Hospital, she described her ordeal as rather painful. The wires will come out from the pores and will fall out like some strange bodily appendage (like horns). And when the wires popped out, it felt like needles stinging her abdomen.
Her condition was bizarre indeed, and closer inspection of her pockmarked belly revealed even more surprising details. And people even suspected that something out of this world was involved.
Picture of her abdomen riddled with wires often appear in the net, and it shows that the damages to the skin were real. Upon closer look, the skin where the wires protruded were red and scabbed, sometimes discolored. Her belly also had scars, possibly from years of wires eruption. Closer check also showed that the wire growths are mostly in the upper abdomen. Mostly above the navel, though some wires erupted in either side of her navel. No wire protrusion was seen on the lower abdomen. There are also wires popping out of her chest.
As for the wires themselves, they were never the small, pin-sized needles. They could reach 20 to 40 cm long. She did try to trim the wires, but one of her sisters said that upon doing so, the wires retreated back into her abdomen before reemerging elsewhere, as if the wires have minds of their own. The doctors examining her have no idea what was happening, or can’t provide clear analysis of her condition. So, they took X-ray images of her stomach, and it showed 40 wires inside her. And despite being metallic in nature, the wires never caused tetanus
Her condition did affect her daily life. Obviously, nudging the wires on her belly will cause her pain. Hence, she needed to hunch a bit when moving around, so the wires won’t hit anything and give her the mother of all stomach pain. The wires do fall off by themselves, on a weekly basis, but there are cases where it stayed lodged on her abdomen.
Overall, the medical specialists were left puzzled by her condition. And with the absence of natural explanations, people turned to unnatural means to find answer.
Like many cultures in Southeast Asia, Indonesia also has a tradition of mysticism. And one of these is shamanism. Indonesia has a local term for them; the dukun. Even at present, educated members of society still consult dukuns, and even the former president Suharto employed one. In the society, their roles ranged from being traditional healers, to spirit mediums, custom tradition experts, even black magic practitioners. They could perform exorcisms, divinations, charms, blessings, spiritual communications, and sorcery. Dukuns are generally benevolent, but they could do curses in cases of vengeance. And one of this is the Santet incantation.
Inanimate objects, like nails, pins, screws, or any metal implements possess energy. Such immaterial energy is called the Santet. And Santet could be weaponize in cases like vengeance, by transferring the energy to the body of the target. The result is supernatural harm, like illness, or metallic implements ending up in the target’s body.
In the case Noorsyaidah, people suspected that the wires growing on her abdomen is consistent with the Santet curse. According to them, she was a victim of witchcraft.
But again, the presence of the supernatural is simply hard to stomach. Up until now, Noorsyaidah’s case remains open, and it’s very unlikely that we will get into the underbelly of this mystery. Could be, that the wire injuries are self-inflicted, though people aren’t really buying it. There is even a comment in social media that Morgellons disorder is to be blamed. Morgellon is a condition, whereas an individual believed that they have sores that contains fibrous material. Medical consensus classifies Morgellon as delusional parasitosis, and the condition is scientifically unsubstantiated. Plus, it never includes foreign materials growing out of the skin.
In the end, we might never know. Noorsyaidah’s condition might be self-inflicted or not, a case of sorcery, or an undiscovered medical anomaly. What is sure is that as humanity progress into the future, life will challenge our rationality with more oddities lurking under its sleeve.
1. Janottama, Bramaseta (12 July, 2016). "Hanging Out with One of Indonesia's Celebrity Sorcerers". Vice.
2. Sulaiman, Nurni (28 July, 2008). "'Wire Woman' Claims a Stomach of Steel". The Jakarta Post.