Next time you think about stepping into a puddle and splashing like you did when you were in school, think again.
There may be spirits residing in those small pools of water.
There is a clear demarcation of where spirits "reside", as explained in Kirk Michael Endicott's Analysis of Malay Magic.
The places where sea spirits, water spirits and land spirits live are separated by borders.
The wave line that remains on the sand after the tide has left the shore is the boundary between the sea spirit and the land spirit, wrote Endicott.
Water spirits or Hantu Air, tend to exist in varying sizes of body of water such as the pond, puddles, rivers, lakes or unused wells.
Don't disturb the water spirits, warn believers of the Malay folklore, unless you want your face to resemble a water balloon.
The condition you'll end up with after an "encounter" with water spirits is called "gemuk air", or in literal translation, fat with water.
Some people believe the water spirit is described as a chubby man made out of a giant water balloon. Think Michelin Man, but filled with liquid instead.
But, others seem to have a more sinister perception of this type of water spirit. They believe he looks like a bald, bearded man covered with rough fish scales and with sharp fingernails.
These water spirits are believed to be spirits that have been discarded by previous masters.
They are known to be powerful, some times disguised as floating logs. These spirits are able to drown unsuspecting victims in the rivers or lakes they reside in.
There is a famous Malay folktale which involves a water spirit and how an Asian version of Hercules called Badang obtained his supernatural strength.
In the Malay Annals, written by Dr John Leyden, a slave called Badang had acquired strength after striking a deal with a water spirit.
Badang was investigating the cause of missing fish in the river, and staked out on the river bank one night, only to find a water spirit or Hantu Air eating the fish caught in the trap Badang had set earlier.
"His eyes were red as fire, his hair coarse and matted as a basket, his beard hanging down to his navel and in his hand was a whittle knife without the haft," wrote Leyden, describing the Hantu Air.
The Badang then confronted the spirit, who in exchange for his escape offered the Badang a gift. Badang desired to have strength, so the spirit told him, "If you wish for strength I will gift it to you provided you lick up my vomit."
Driven by the desire to leave his own master and gain extraordinary strength, Badang - quite literally - swallowed his pride and earned his new powers.
Walter William Skeat points out that many of Malay villagers are strong believers of spiritual world and especially of water or sea spirits as many treat the sea and rivers as their livelihoods.
Some ships or boats are adorned with sugar palm twigs to prevent water spirits from settling on the mast, writes Skeat. But if the spirit does appear on the mast, he usually shows himself by resembling fireflies, glowing on the mast.
Talismans made out of leaves with Arabic text are thrown into the river or sea to appease these water or sea spirits. This would explain the discovery of rocks with white cloths dangling from a long stick or pole near the mouths of rivers — these places are marked as sacred, according to Skeat.
Offerings of rice and leaves are given to the water spirits at river rapids that are considered hazardous for travel.
One of the more common ritual practices still practised in East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia is called the semah laut, a ceremony where fishermen and seafarers honour the spirits and ask for blessings the next time they journey out to fish.