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     Volume 6 Issue 14 | April 13, 2007 |

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View from the Bottom

Murders most Memorable

Shahnoor Wahid

Since Abel dealt that mortal blow to Kane in the premature dawn of human history (as mentioned in ancient scriptures), murdering fellow humans has become a regular feature in all human societies. There are so many varied reasons for a human being to kill another! In ancient times the justification was, unless you kill, you get killed. So keep your swords and daggers sharpened and within reach. Those were the days of warfare in order to conquer new land to spread your empire.

Those were the days of killing to keep your own clan safe and fed. Then came the phase of black magic, voodooism, tantrikism, shamaism and witch doctorism when killings of humans was given the name of sacrifice before the gods. With the advent of the major religions one began to kill another for denying to bow his heads before the revered gods. As religions flourished throughout the regions the killing spree also found greater momentum. Ironically the momentum continues even today.

In the modern era, soon after the European renaissance, with the industrial revolution creating newer strata in the communities, gaps between the poor and the rich began to widen and as a result killing of workers or slaves became a sport for the rich and the powerful. Extreme poverty and drunkenness drove desperate men to kill one another in such communities. Rebels who spoke against the corrupt system were taken to the gallows and hanged.

Then came the era of war machines and modern battle weapons. To try those in real life, rich nations needed to have real wars. The great world wars thus provided the opportunity to kill fellow humans by the millions.

But, those are large scale, state sponsored murders that were marketed under attractive packaging. But, alongside those, individuals continued to take human lives for often very silly reasons. People are being killed for a pack of smokes or a palm tree or even for falling in love. Then there are political killings where one kills another to serve the nation! Men are killing their wives for dowry or to take a second wife, or to continue doing what they should not do. Women are killing husbands so that they can carry on doing whatever they have been doing.

There are the conventional and innovative ways of taking a life. One could actually come out with a large volume on the reasons for and ways and methods of taking the life of another human. Reading such a book in the middle of the night with angry elements pounding on your windows would be quite a thrilling experience. Some of our thirst for such details has been satiated through reading the real life gory accounts of murderers like Jack the Ripper, Boston Strangler, Dr. Crippen, Richard Speck, John Dillinger and so on.

Then writers with a penchant for murders thought of weird possible ways to kill their characters in the novels. Among those who excelled in this enterprise are Edgar Allan Poe, Merry Shelley, Bram Stoker, Agatha Christie, Stephen King etc. Think how a frail and sophisticated English lady who always lived in affluence far away from real life crime world came up with mind-boggling plots of murders in her books! Yes, I am talking about Agatha Christie. Her vivid descriptions of the murders often intrigued her readers and on many occasions police officers approached her to help them solve a murder case.

So, readers, happy haunting with memorable murder stories.

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