This is a journey unlike any other, offering a rare glimpse into a dark period of time.
The wanderer was suddenly transported to an unfamiliar place. He looked around with a sense of bewilderment, trying to grasp a detail, something he could recognize, but nothing seemed to click. He was in a dense forest surrounded by hills. The air was thick and humid, filled with the scent of exotic plants and damp earth. The sounds of birds singing, leaves rustling, and towering trees swaying in the breeze all blended together to create a symphony of harmonious sounds across the wilderness.
The forest was alive and vibrant, and the wanderer was struck by its beauty and serenity.
Despite his earlier confusion and fear, a wave of enthusiasm swept over his body at the thought of having a new mission of discovery and uncovering the mysteries of this new place.
The wanderer was bursting with curiosity and a fascination for exploration like ever. He hankered after adventure and was always eager to take on new experiences.
And so he sat off into the unknown. The sun had set and darkness had fallen, his steps now became slower as he walked through the dark terrains of the forest. The cool air was refreshing against his skin, and the sounds of the night were a comforting presence .
When he reached the top of the hill, he paused to catch his breath and take in the stunning view before him. The city below was illuminated by thousands of twinkling lights, resembling bright stars in a dark sky. As the night progressed, new lights continued to evolve and their soft glow contrasted beautifully with the starry sky overhead which was the cherry on top.
The refreshing soft breeze and the sounds of crickets humming added a sense of peacefulness to this magical atmosphere.
That night’s scene was indeed a sensory feast and the wanderer said under his breath:” I must be very lucky to witness nature, in all its splendor and glory.”
He then started to look around for a place to sleep. He found a comfortable spot between a few rocks, sheltered from the wind but still has a good view. He laid down, gazing up at the sky and feeling blissful. At last, he was drifting off into Dreamland, embraced by the warmth of nature and surrounded by its beauty.
Hours had passed and the world was slowly waking up from its slumber as the sun rose above the realms of horizon, indicating the beginning of a new day. The wanderer, however, remained in a deep sleep.
The sunlight brushed against his face. Singing birds woke him up, and he felt like he had slept better than ever before. He stretched his arms in contentment, and as he stood up, he was rewarded with breathtaking sights.
The sky was crystal clear and streaked with bright white clouds. The hills stretched out in a wide arc along the horizon with their greenery slopes and vivid wildflowers. And under the influence of the sunlight, trees, plants and grasses were all shimmering. The sound of humming was everywhere, all was fluttering and flying, with new smells and new hues, the wanderer was evidently in a state of sensual intoxication.
That scene was like a masterpiece that came to life from a painter’s canvas.
As he was contemplating the landscapes, he sensed a familiarity from this place ,which he could not recognize at first, and wasn’t quite sure why.
Suddenly, like a bolt of lightning, he realized he was in Rwanda, the Central African jem. The hills, forests and exotic smells – it all made sense in his mind now.
This small country located in the heart of Africa and known as the « land of a thousand hills » for its captivating mountainous terrains. The wanderer really felt as if he was in a dream. But soon he realized that this was not a dream, but the beauty and wonder of Rwanda as it truly is.
For a long moment, the wanderer simply sat on top of the hill, taking in the beauty of Rwanda and feeling grateful for this opportunity to visit it because he had always longed for learning more about its culture and history.
He closed his eyes, inhaled deeply and fresh air filled his lungs. He was overwhelmed by a sense of refreshment and vitality, as if nothing could disturb this pleasure.
Suddenly, a burst of screaming sounds was heard faintly from down the village. The wanderer was confused as to what could be the reason for this commotion. And so, he decided to get down to the nearby village down the hills and discover for himself.
As he was stumbling his way through the forest, heart pounding fast in his chest, feeling uneasy and not knowing what he was going to witness, he tripped over some tree roots and almost fell but he contained himself so as not to be heard.
Finally he reached a part of town that was empty and lifeless. Gloominess hung over it like a dark cloud. It was a haunting and eerie sight at once.
A sense of fear started to well up inside him, as he realized that he was completely alone in this place. He looked around trying to find any proof of what was happening and he saw a house with a wide open door. He entered slowly, with glazed eyes, scanning everything surrounding him until he saw a calendar hung on the wall and he stopped abruptly.
But as he was reading the date, he stood speechless, his eyes grew bigger and an expression of fear was drawn all over his face. It was “1 April 1994”, an indelible date in the history of Rwanda.
It marked the beginning of the Rwandan genocide, a mass slaughter and one of the most horrific acts of violence in recent times. Over a period of 100 days, from April to July 1994, an estimated 800,000 people from the Tutsi ethnic group, as well as moderate Hutus, were massacred by Hutu militia groups.
The wanderer realized with growing horror that this tragic event was happening right at that moment.
And in a trice, a loud scream shattered the silence of the place, it felt as if it was from just outside the house. A brick of panic and uncertainty lodged in his gut. He didn’t know what to do next but curiosity overcame him and decided to take a look.
He went out but found nothing. He continued walking cautiously between trees to avoid being seen.
Soon, a repugnant sight was presented before his eyes.
There was a woman lying on the ground, her face was bloody and her arms clenched to her baby. A few feet from her, there was a man, completely covered in blood and his features were unrecognizable. These unfortunate souls seemed to be once a family…and now they were gone.
The wanderer had a terrible sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach and felt as if a million volts surged through his body. No other sight provoked such a visceral reaction.
He walked away, eventually, having seen enough, while the wails of distressed people and children rang through the air.
A real tragic story was being played out in the streets of Rwanda not like a fairytale.
In that moment, the wanderer felt desperate to stop this increasing madness that was tearing Rwanda apart. He wanted to put an end to this violence and hatred. He wanted to yell, to scream and to cry out against it all.
Yet again, it was much bigger than what he could offer. He couldn’t help everyone, could he? Plus, the tragedy has already started happening.
Ultimately, he realized that he can’t change the course of history and it was destined to be.
He knew that Rwanda will emerge as a resilient nation despite all the challenges it has faced and won’t turn the page to this tragedy but rather turn the tide to its growth and flourishment to ensure a better future for its citizens.
Remembering the Rwandan Genocide is important for acknowledging the victims and survivors of this devastating event, and for ensuring that such atrocities never occur again. It serves as a stark reminder of the consequences of hatred and division.
Rwanda, nowadays, is one of the fastest-growing economies in Africa and has been acknowledged for its hard work and innovative strategies to catalyze positive change.
The wanderer learned from this journey that even in the midst of such darkness, there is always hope for a brighter future to arise.
He already had an inkling that this might be an experience of a lifetime and a story to be shared for all times. Undoubtedly, Rwanda will hold a precious place in his heart.
And so the wanderer sat off to a new journey, filled with a sense of gratitude at the infinite adventures that lie ahead and convinced that there are plenty of great things to unravel.
Written By : Chams Daghsni.
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Chapter 10 : Japan, Matsuo Basho.
“Why am I here? » he asked, « As long as you breath you can be anywhere, you’re meant to be. » he answered.
For This time the journey of the wandered will be during the Edo period, the era which was well known for its cultural flourishing as the emergence of new arts such as haiku, the kabuki theater and what’s most fascinating is the birth of notable people.
The wanderer was lying down under a majestic gigantic oak tree with its canopy of branches and leaves, he was protected from the sunbeam, he seemed relaxed while a gentle breeze combined with the smell of grass and dewdrops was tickling his skin. Hearing the sound of the wind seemed for him as hearing the sound of the void; it was clear yet too disturbing which made him wonder and question himself all over again “why am I here”.
For the first time as a time traveler the wanderer felt too empty, just as a vessel filled with flesh and bones but not a soul, it’s uncommon for him to feel that way. For an instant everything seemed quiet, it was like nature telling him to focus on his inner thoughts, for an instant a specific man crossed his mind; someone whom he wanted to meet if he got the chance and here it is, that chance between his bare hands. He got up and he went to look for that person, it was not hard to find him since he was a well-known figure. When the wanderer arrived there was a small hut on the outskirts of the city in the middle of a vast expanse of green forest, through flowers, plants and trees that were growing thick, a fresh stream was running, here, was living that man; Matsuo Basho.
The wanderer stopped for a while observing Matsuo sitting in the Engawa, enjoying his Matcha whisked with hot water creating a frothy flavorful tea, watching the leaves as they’re falling. ”His actions were too simple yet too powerful,” said the wanderer to himself, when Matsuo noticed him, he said to the wanderer with a little smile on his face “You seem lost, young boy. I guess you need some words. Come and sit, let’s enjoy the weather.“
“You hit the bullseye; actually, I was looking for you” answered the wandered for the request.
The wanderer took off his geta and he sat there beside him and as Matsuo gave him a cup of Matcha he said “Master all I need now is guidance, the feeling in me that is seeking for something I don’t even know about. It is kind of frustrating. Lost is all I feel now“ Said the wanderer.
“Hmm…. lost! It doesn’t sound bad to me. See young man, I lived for 60 years and I’ve felt lost at every start of a journey. I shunned company, my life was altered between traveling widely and living in a small hut in the middle of forest. The first time I felt that way was when I decided to quit my path as a samurai and find another purpose in my life. It was not that easy. But the feeling of emptiness and the way I see things made me observe more into the depth of my life “The journey itself is my home”. And questioning is the beginning of finding the answer”. Matsuo paused and he took another sip of his favorite matcha. He closed his eyes while enjoying the melody of the bird’s twittering.
“I came from a time when life is too crowded, it comes with its own set of challenges and stresses. And these challenges can be daunting. A life in which following other’s steps is better than finding your own pace, people are more connected not through their minds and ideas but through more modern stuff. How can I have the way of life I want …Maybe it’s easy for you to say that but thinking about the transition of changing paths is much more overwhelming than the act itself. Hard to show satisfaction just by having brief moments. How can I find that peace and tranquility? « said the wanderer.
“I started writing haiku because I was hoping this could bring such a special mental state to my readers. I can’t ford, and I don’t believe in modern art plus the future of art, for the art’s sake.
For always I despised and abhorred the pretension. In my view, a good poem is one in which the form of the verse and the joining of its two parts seem light as a shallow river flowing over its sandy bed. My ultimate purpose of this lightness in my writings is to allow readers to free themselves and escape from the burden of the self, one’s own petty particularities, and all of this I found in nature. It’s not necessary to talk about such controversial topics and get involved in them like family dramas, love triangles or whatever it’s all about the simplicity at the level of the theme which I find in our mother nature”.
Matsuo Basho got up, took a fallen leaf and put it in the floating river. He stood there with his hands behind his back and he kept silent.
“It’s true I can’t deny the serenity I felt while lying down in the middle of nature but how could it be the key to change the way I live and think, how can I be engraved in thoughts, body and soul in the components of nature?” with an unsteady voice the wanderer asked.
Matsuo kept looking at the leave as its floating on the water and he claimed his soothing words “It’s about merging with nature and clean world, giving the sensation of a clear-mind through the water, the trees, the sound of waves, the sunset equally to the sunrise….In addition to me being a poet, I wanted or even better I needed to choose the path of being a monk and one of the most important ideals in the Zen Buddhism is Wabi which means satisfaction with simplicity in austerity, the other one is Sabi which is the appreciation of the imperfection and as we combine these two you can find it in nature. That’s why it has always been my best source for reaching the Wabi-Sabi. Just like this fallen leaf, for a certain time it was a part of the tree and now it has become a part of the ground, maybe next time it will be a part of one’s food, who knows. See young man every corner of the world has been created for us, but it was meant for us to take the lead and observe more into its values. The loss of awareness of oneself allows you to break free from all the thrum of desires and the pressure that you’re living under. Always remember “Seek not to follow in the footsteps of men of age, seek what they sought’. And as this freed me from all my glorious and melancholy nights, it can free you from the tyranny of glum moments.”
As Matsuo Basho was done telling his wise words, a teardrop fell from the wanderer’s eyes. Certainly for the wanderer those words were more than merely words for him, they were like requiem for his exhausted soul, the light to his darkened road. He got up and he said with a warm voice “I was meant to be here and it’s an honor to meet you and if I ever get the chance, I’ll always choose to drink matcha with you.“
The wanderer took his leaf and for the first time he felt that he was filled with serenity and satisfaction, and he was sure enough that the real journey begins every time he questions himself.
WHY AM I HERE…
Written By : Nour Houda Melki.