Vampires & Witches Live On……
Since the very beginning of mankind, the establishments of primitive societies, human beings have been fascinated with forces beyond their comprehension. The belief in the paranormal, the supernatural has sparked the birth of numerous legends, numerous stories. In ancient times the horizon of knowledge was not broad enough, so the primitive man cannot be blamed for their conviction in the mystical, the uncanny. But what leads us to believe? Where lays the source of our faith in mysticism? If only logic and science prevailed, there wouldn't be such a big following for Buffy or Angel. Where Buffy is shallow we spackle in the depth, and where it is deep, we plunge our minds into the heady intellectual maelstrom of discussion, argument and debate. Hamlet used a silly play to work on the conscience of his king - we use a TV show about a pretty vampire killer to examine ours. Maybe the reason boils down to the fact that consciously or subconsciously these mystical concepts give us hope.
I can think of a million clichés like "hope springs eternal in man's breast" and I'm sure you can think of a million more. But the bottom lime is that men live on hope. We like to dream, we want to escape the harsh shackles of reality. And an even deeper reality is the evil that lives in the heart of man. Vampires solidify the evil entrenched deep within our soul and the magic of the slayer is our solace. We want to be saved desperately -- from ourselves, from others.
Vampire myths go back thousands of years and occur in almost every culture around the world. The first appearance of the word "upir" was in a document referring to a Russian prince in 1047. He was called "Upir" or more rightly "Upir Lichy" (wicked vampire) which may have resulted from his ruthless behavior. The variety of vampires is almost endless; from red eyed monsters with green or pink hair in China to the Greek Lamia which has the upper body of a woman and the lower body of a winged serpent; from vampire foxes in Japan to a head with trailing entrails known as the "Penanggalang" in Malaysia. The list goes on and on. But the common trait in all the myths is that vampires are evil, creatures of the night. They prey on the innocent and good.
And while talking about vampires how can we ignore witches? There are real people in the real world who self-identify as witches. There numerous websites hosted by these self proclaimed witches. Some of them even provide the information on how to be a witch. What do we basically know about witches and warlocks? We believe them to be inherently evil. We believe they aren't human, but a parallel evolution to humans (e.g. children of "Lillith" rather than "Eve", aliens, etc.). We believe them to use horrid things like the eye of newt in casting spells when it is nothing more than a harmless herb. And these beliefs led to the death of nearly 100,000 innocent people during the 14 th to the 18 th century.
Deep down whether we admit it or not everyone of us is looking for mysticism. And we find the mysticism through magic, witchcraft, and even through vampires. Perhaps that is why an all powerful teen slaying evil appeals so much to us, or the fact that a 250 year old vampire seeks redemption.
Obsession runs deep within our beings. We are obsessed about knowing the future. Naturally this is where gypsies, palmists and soothsayers come in. You break up…want to get back together, you go to a palmist to know what your future holds. You loose a job. You're short on cash, you go to a palmist discover what fate has in store for you. Will you win the lottery? Will you win today's game? Will you succeed? When the burden seems unbearable, belief in mysticism takes away the pain. The pain of waiting to know what is going to happen. Even if these predictions don't come true, for a few moments they do hold a sense of security. Even as small a thing as wearing a specific stone can give us hope.
And then there is desperation. When things get out of control, we seek a higher power. We seek divine and not so divine intervention. Believing in mystical forces fills the gaps. Otherwise we are resigned to the fact that nothing makes sense. There are modern day vampires who belong to vampire clubs. These are people without hope, people looking for power, people wanting to feel wanted.
Ultimately when push comes to shove we just do not want to deal, facing the tribulations of existence is a bit too hard. And the way life is getting more and more complicated, can we be blamed for trying to find a bit of solace in the powers that be?
People search for deeper meaning because they want and need to, not because it's "necessary" or "appropriate." Whether the meaning actually exists is almost beside the point. The point is, it exists for us.
By Ishita Rahman
"The Holocaust : The Unimaginable Tragedy"
Of all the examples of injustice against humanity in history, the Jewish Holocaust has to be one of the most prominent. In the period of 1933 to 1945, the Nazis waged a vicious war against Jews and other "lesser races". This war came to a head with the "Final Solution" in 1938.
One of the end results of the Final Solution was the horrible concentration and death camps of Germany, Poland, and other parts of Nazi-controlled Europe. In the aftermath of the Holocaust, people around the world were shocked by final tallies of human losses, and the people responsible were punished for their inhuman acts.
The Holocaust was a dark time in the history of the 20th century. One can trace the beginnings of the Holocaust as far back as 1933, when the Nazi party of Germany, lead by Adolf Hitler, came to power. Hitler's anti-Jew campaign began soon afterward, with the "Nuremberg Laws", which defined the meaning of being Jewish based on ancestry. These laws also forced segregation between Jews and the rest of the
public. It was only a dim indication of what the future held for European Jews.In September 1939, Germany invaded western Poland. Most, if not all Jews in German-occupied lands were rounded up and taken to ghettos or concentration camps. The ghettos were located inside cities, and were a sort of city/prison to segregate Jews from the rest of the public. Conditions in the ghettos included overcrowding, lack of food, and lack of sanitation, as well as brutality by Nazi guards. Quality of life in a ghetto was probably not much above that in a concentration camp. In June 1941, Germany continued it's invasion of Europe by attacking and capturing some of the western U.S.S.R. By this time, most of the Jews in Europe now lived in lands controlled by Nazi Germany. The SS deployed 3000 death squads, or "Einstagruppen", to dispatch Jews in large numbers . In September 1941, all Jews were forced to wear yellow Stars of David on their arms or coats.
A Jew could be killed with little repercussions for not displaying the Star of David in public. Some of the first Jewish resistance to the Final Solution came in 1943, when the process of deportation to concentration and death camps was in full swing. The Warsaw ghetto in Poland, once numbering over 365,000, had been reduced to only 65,000 by the continuing removal of Jews to camps in other lands.
When the Nazis came to round up the remaining inhabitants of the ghetto, they were met with resistance from the small force of armed Jews. The revolt lasted for almost three weeks before being subdued.Between the years of 1941 to 1945, the main destination for Jews to be transported was a concentration camp or death camp somewhere in Poland or Germany. In these camps, innocent Jews, along with Gypsies, Slavs,
Jehova's Witnesses, Communists, and P.O.W.s, were brutally beaten and abused, fed meager rations of poor food, worked to death, or simply shot. The first of these camps were established in the mid 1930s and were originally designed for prisoners. But, numbers of concentration and death camps grew steadily for years until nearing the end of the World War II. Quality of life in a concentration camp was substandard, to say the absolute least. Jews and other deportees were transported via railroad boxcars similar to those used for cattle.
Some of these cars were so crowded that people actually died standing up, there being no place for them to fall. Once at the camps, the prisoners were unloaded and stripped of everything of value.
Clothing, jewelry, eyeglasses, shoes, and even gold teeth were confiscated from the arriving captives. After unloading, the people were separated into two groups. One of these groups would be lead to firing squads or, in some camps, gas chambers, to be dispatched as soon as possible. These people were usually women, children, and the elderly.
The second group would be lead to the barracks or used for slave labor. This group was usually comprised of able-bodied men. The prisoners were given little food and forced to live and sleep in filthy, overcrowded bunks where disease ran rampant.
Thousands of prisoners in concentration camps died simply of exposure, starvation, or disease. As the war progressed, more and more concentration camps were transformed into extermination or death camps, some of which were equipped with gas vans or gas chambers and crematoria for quick and easy extermination and disposal of the bodies of the captives.
Some of these include Auschwitz (1 million Jews killed), Treblinka (700,000-800,000 Jews gassed), Belzec (600,000 Jews gassed), and Sobibor (250,000 Jews gassed). These camps were the major centers for the slaughter of Jews and other groups.
The Holocaust is one of the most famous events in modern history. The senseless slaughter of millions upon millions of innocent people at the hands of Nazi butchers was incited when a man by the name of Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933.
The Nazis wrought terrible death and destruction on Europe in the following years, beginning with Aryanization and ending with the "Final Solution" in a maniacal plot to exterminate and purify the human race. The Holocaust should be remembered by all as a dark point in modern history.
P.S. I want to thank Mr.P Mondol,who gave me some useful informations regarding this writeup("The Holocaust")
By A A Aranya Syed
People dotted the street underneath, lost in the sounds and colors of the Celebration. Even the cursed, stifling, humid heat wasn't enough to stop their futile mockery of sorrow.
Suddenly, lightnings chased each other, over the horizon of the concrete jungle. The calm breeze turned into wind. And the sounds of merriment drowned the warning of a low thunder.
'How would it feel', he pondered, 'to be underneath a shower of death?
Another salvo of lightning lanced through the night, revealing the gray and purple underbellies of storm clouds. Thunder rumbled, louder than the last time. But, still, the people rejoiced, unaware, or ignoring.
'Where is God? He is supposed to be the Protector, the Just, and the Most Merciful. How can so many innocents die, like that, on God's earth?'
'What did the children do, that they had to die? Ripped apart by bombs, orphaned: their delicate memories scarred forever with the dying cries of friends, and family! What sin did the children commit, to endure such cruel and irrevocable punishment? Where are you, God?' he screamed in his heart.
Suddenly, the wind raged with him. The lake pulsed with small waves of fury. The tree branches creaked and slapped each other. Windows around the neighborhood banged themselves shut. Somebody screamed, as glass shattered.
As if shaken awake from a dream, the songs and laughter stopped dead. A branch of lightning reached down to caress a power-line, somewhere, and the street and 'mela' plunged into saturated darkness. Thunder pealed, like hundreds of bombers flying overhead.
Now, unchained to the sights and sounds of reality, the mammoth of chaos broke loose, in the black street.
An unbridled gale summoned waves of dirt and dust. The merrymakers were frightened, blinded, and choking, all at the same time. Some clever drivers used their headlights to chip off slices of the darkness, here and there.
Flashes of lightning fell on confused and panicked faces. A moment later, another imaginary flight of bombers, twice more than the last, passed overhead.
The people who were, some moments before, singing of love and unity, started bolting in every which way; screaming, wailing, shouting. The shrieks of the frightened children rose and fell with the gale.
Rain started falling, lightly at first, and then slashing out with murderous fury!
'Look at us', he thought,' Just look at us! Rejoicing, fine, but so entangled in our colors and songs, that we fail to hear the footsteps of Sorrow, treading down our lives.'
'But, even then, when its too late, if we keep our hearts together, we can beat the threat! But, again we fail, fearing…………No. Fear we must, for we are men. Its only when we yield to our fears, that our dooms are sealed.'
Lightning and thunder flashed and echoed, seeming to affirm his thoughts.
A few thunderclaps later, the rain-brimming street was deserted, void of songs, drenched of colors.
Lightning slashed the sky, showing dark mounds: the unmoving bodies of those who fell beneath the stampede. Some of them moaned in pain. But, more likely, that was the wind, pained to touch the fragile, weathering bonds, of love and unity, of mankind.
can fear rule over something as powerful as love?
A roll of thunder seemed to applaud him, mockingly. Shaking his head, he withdrew into his house.
the empty veranda, the black street wept with
By Riaz Md. Nasek Khan
| Issues | The Daily Star Home|
© 2003 The Daily Star