“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.
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chapter 9 : USA, The Night Stalker.
Richard Ramirez was born on the 29th of February 1960 as the youngest of five children. It was avowedly speculated that his traumatic childhood had a tremendous influence on him and on the crimes he later on committed. His father, a former police officer, was a violent alcoholic who kept constantly lashing out on his wife and children. It was stated that Richard, at a very young age, was struck to the head with a falling piece of furniture and merely a few weeks later, he was struck again with a swing. At such a young age, the skull, still not fully developed, cannot provide full protection for the brain. That’s why, the experts speculated that his frontal cortex could’ve been damaged in that incident. Such damage can cause poor impulse control and aggressive tendencies. As a matter of fact, Richard started suffering seizures ever since.
In order to elude his toxic home life, Richard took the habit of frequenting his cousin Miguel’s house who was much older than him. Miguel was a military veteran who served in the Vietnam War. The terrors he’d seen at war messed him up. He kept his gun in the fridge claiming he wanted to keep it cool. He would also boast to the 12-year old Richard about the horrors that happened at war and he would depict the graphic details of the several ways they used to capture and kill people. He even showed him pictures of him posing with a severed head of a woman whom he had killed and raped. Richard was never repulsed by the macabre stories he was hearing and witnessing. On the contrary, he was fascinated. On an eventful day, Miguel and his wife got into a heated fight. In the spur of the moment, Miguel shot his wife in the face in front of the 12-year-old Richard. As Miguel was arrested, Richard moved in with his sister and her husband Roberto. The environment was no better either. Roberto was a peeping tom who would have sexual gratification over watching women at night and Richard would tag along his nocturnal exploits.
It was during his teenage years that Ramirez began associating sexual fantasies with violence. He worked part-time at a holiday inn in summer. During that time, he kept using his passkey to rob the guests and to stalk them while they slept. Once, he let himself into the room of a couple and he attempted to rape the woman except her husband caught him and police were called. Richard lost his job, but no charges were made against him.
At the age of 22, the school-dropout moved from Texas to San Francisco, California. Richard’s first ever crime was presumed to be that of the murder of a nine-year old girl whom he had lured to the basement of the hotel he was staying in.
Once Richard got a taste of crime life, he didn’t step back. On the contrary, things escalated and a series of macabre crimes were committed by this monster: A 62-year-old was found stabbed repeatedly with a throat slashed near decapitation, a series of break-ins and stolen valuables, hijacking a car and killing the owner…
He broke into a house of 64-year-old Vincent and his 44-year-old wife Mazine, shot the husband and tied the woman who managed to escape and tried to attack him. This infuriated him, so, in a fit of anger he gouged her eyes out, put them in a jar and shot her three times.
In 1985, Bill and Liliane fell victims to this ruthless killer who raped Liliane, gave the couple electrical shots then proceeded to beat them with a hammer. Before leaving the crime scene, he drew a pentagram on the wall with blood. This was the first time Richard used a sign of satanism in his crimes, but surely wasn’t the last time, as he himself was a satanist. In a later interview he actually said: “As far as Satan is concerned, I believe malevolent being his description eludes me but I have felt powers that are evil.”
His satanism was also portrayed in several other crimes: He broke into the house of a couple and after murdering them, he turned towards their 8-year-old boy and asked him to show him where the valuables were, and he made the little boy promise to Satan that he wasn’t hiding anything from him. Luckily, the child was able to get out of the house and ran towards the neighbors.
Richard also entered the home of a couple, killed the man and made the woman swear on Satan that she wouldn’t tell anyone.
The Night Stalker crimes didn’t stop there. He went on with a series of more break-ins and more murders. The horrific crimes of Richard petrified the people of California and baffled the police. Richard’s Mode of Operating was different with every crime that he committed, to the point where police didn’t link the crimes together. All cases were treated and investigated separately. That is until two smart detectives made a connection with several crime scenes. They discovered a distinct shoe print for a specific model that was left unintentionally at a variety of crime scenes. This made an outbreak in the case: the culprit they were looking for is a serial killer.
Police held a press conference where they revealed that a serial killer was at large and they dubbed him “the Night Stalker”. Police told people to lock their doors at night and they revealed details about the murders and the most crucial key evidence they had, the shoeprint.
The detectives on the case were pissed off at that revelation, because it was the only piece of evidence that pointed towards the culprit and with this being shared with the public, it would compromise the case.
Indeed, Richard saw the press conference and he knew they were onto him. He took his sneakers that were linked to the crimes and threw them off the golden gate bridge.
On August 24th, he had an urge to commit a crime so he lurked outside this house where a boy named James lived alongside his parents. James was alerted to the presence of the creepy man that’s why he woke his parents up and noted the car color model and few numbers from the license plate. Richard drove off when he noticed the entire family was up. Meanwhile, James contacted the police.
On August 28th, the stolen car was retrieved and the police were able to find a fingerprint from the rear-view mirror. Although Richard has wiped down the entire car before disposing of it yet he missed that little spot, which brought his downfall.
The fingerprint found had a match in the police database : it belonged to a 25-year-old drifter from Texas who had a previous record for traffic and drug violations. This ex-convict was indeed Richard Ramirez. His mugshot was released to the media and another press conference was held where they addressed Richard by name, calling out for him to surrender.
On August 31st, Richard looked over a newspaper rack whilst he was strolling down the street. Every single one had his picture printed on the front page. He panicked and he threw himself into a highway where he attempted to hijack three cars but was unsuccessful. Not accepting defeat, he ran until he found himself in a bad neighborhood where he was spotted by a group of people and then he was attacked by the angry mob. He was beaten by a metal bar to the head and held hostage until the police came and arrested him.
Whilst awaiting trial, Richard was bragging to his fellow inmates that he would smuggle a gun to the court and shoot the prosecutor. This led the law enforcement to install metal detectors by the door of the courthouse on the day of his trial. Later that day, a juror failed to attend as she was found shot in her apartment. The jury was terrified for their lives and were convinced that Richard was behind it and that he orchestrated the whole thing from his cell. Nevertheless, this was proven later to be false accusations as the real culprit was brought to justice: it was the victim’s boyfriend not Ramirez.
This case garnered so much media attention. During his trial, the courtroom was flooded with women screaming like fangirls and drooling over Richard’s presumably good looks. As a matter of fact, the juror who died was replaced by a woman named Cindy who turned out to be one of Richard’s fans. The subsequent trial turned into one of America’s most notorious courtroom dramas punctuated by continual outbursts from Richard. He even carved a pentagram on his hand that he kept showcasing whilst he was on the stand.
On September 30th, 1989, after an eight-month trial, Richard was convicted with all charges: 13 counts of murder, 5 attempted murders, 11 sexual assaults and 14 burglaries. During the penalty phase, he was sentenced to death in the California gas chamber.
While waiting for his execution date, Richard became unwell, his health fell apart due to complications secondary to B-cell lymphoma and he ended up passing away at the age of 53 whilst sitting on death row for more than 23 years.
The night stalker horrified people because he didn’t have a fixed M.O, he didn’t select his victims following certain criteria as most prolific serial killers did : Richard didn’t spare anyone. He targeted women and men of all ages: children, adults and even the elderly. Walking the streets of California or LA, everyone was terrified they would encounter this ruthless man because nothing guarantees you would walk away unscathed.
What infuriated people more about Richard after he was apprehended, is that he refused to discuss his crimes and he kept making outrageous outbreaks to the media that caused havoc, anger and pain. He said in an interview: “A serial killer comes about by circumstances and like a recipe, poverty, drugs, child abuse. These things, you know, contribute to a person’s frustration and anger. And at some point in life, he explodes.” In an attempt to justify his horrendous deeds, he added: “There are desires that if I didn’t give into them, I would be crushed by them”.
Richard was never apologetic about the things he did. He even admitted that he didn’t particularly care for people, nor for himself and what happened to him. As a matter of fact, he only said whilst chatting on this matter: “I believe in the evil in human nature. This is a wicked world. And in a wicked world, wicked people are born. I’m not gonna blame society, my race, people or anything. It is up to the individual like myself to keep on knocking on whatever door they want to get into”. Then he later added: “we are all evil, in some form or another. Are we not ?”
In a macabre story of murder, Satanism, serial rape, burglaries and more, we’ve traveled back in time from the sixties all the way through to the eighties in the United States, where we’ve witnessed the story of the infamous Night Stalker who terrorized the streets of California and Los Angeles, the story of the man who still to this day remains a mystery even to psychologists and experts. The way his brain worked and the decisions he made were never understood, and he, on his part, never elaborated more on the topic, taking these secrets with him to his grave.
Written By : Sarra Barnoussi.