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Jack the ripper- a chronicle of his murders

Year 1888, Whitechapel, London, was thought to be a peaceful place; an ideal place of tranquility. A beatific place of non-violence, where slow gallop of horses, patter of rain drops against the bricked paths, clangor of the church-bells, and the clamor of the bustling populace, going about with their daily work, would fill the morning air. By night, things would settle down, a serene silence would appropriate, and the people would either socialize in the pubs, or retire early in their domiciles. Stories of ghostly murders were never heard of, and were never thought of, but things were to take a sudden turn. A place so absorbed suddenly started to fear death, fear of getting slaughtered by a creature of the night; the behemoth known as Jack the Ripper. The monster targeted prostitutes. He seemed to have declared a crusade on the street women, but in a perverted manner. As the evening greeted the night with a wink of an eye; his mission would begin. Under the cloudy sky, he would lurk the dimly lit bricked streets of Whitechapel, in search of a victim; a ferocious carnivore on the lookout of a prey, to satisfy his sadistic lust for blood.

He broached himself to the denizen of Whitechapel by first claiming the life of 42 year old Polly, abandoned wife of a printer. Mary Ann Nichols (Polly), who bore five children, entered the body trade when her husband eloped. Polly, a reputed body-soother in Frying Pan Public House, was found shredded on 28th of August, when she was on the lookout of a new client. Her body, dismembered into no more less than chunks of meat, was discovered the next day. The inhabitants of Whitechapel woke up by reading the headline, "No murder was ever more ferociously, and brutally done!" in the Star Newspaper, but little did the tabloid, and the general mass know that more were to follow.

Next in line was Dark Annie, a widower who was already suffering from brain and lung cancer. She had a crippled son, and two daughters, one of whom had already died. She was a florist in the morning, and a prostitute by night. Amid her afflictions she could never imagine in her wildest dreams, that her already cursed life will be brought to an end in such an ominous, and malign fashion. Annie Chapman's death certificate was brutally signed by the bestial knife-man on 8th of September. Her body was discovered mutilated on Hanbury Street.

The murder was analogous to that of Mary Ann Nichols. This gave rise to a Serial Killer theory. The inhabitants of once peaceful Whitechapel were scared, and appalled by the two murders.

With the advent of the evening, they would cower into their houses quickly, the streets of Whitechapel would become empty, and an arcane silence would fill the misty alleys. The Dailies went wild, and called him the Leather Apron, but the appellation disgruntled him. In an alleged letter to the perplexed police force, he requested to be referred as Jack the Ripper. This affirmed, and bolstered the Serial Killer theory. The sentries were at full alert, waiting to catch him in his next act, but still they couldn't stop him from making the headlines yet again by annihilating Elizabeth Stride, and Catherine Endowers, on the very same night.

"Long Liz", Elizabeth Stride, a registered prostitute in Gothenburg, moved to London when she married John Thomas, a carpenter. After the breakdown of their marriage, she became a prostitute in Whitechapel. Elizabeth Stride, who had eight convictions for drunkenness, was cut ear to ear by the Phantom of the Night on 30th of September. The scene of her gory cadaver amid the pool of blood was described as pathetic in the papers. But after killing Liz, Ripper didn't stop short. He wasn't satisfied. His voracious appetite for blood was not appeased.

He was still thirsty; he seeked for more blood. So, through the shadowy streets, he walked all the way to Goulstone Street, to claim the life of Catherine Endowes, right after ten minutes.

Before leaving the site he chalked the words on a wall next to the bloodied apron of Catherine Endowes, "The Juwes are the Men that will not be blamed for nothing".

After the last murder, the killings would come to a halt for one whole month. Things were settling down again. The old style of life was again being restored. The nights were again being celebrated with bliss. Only when everyone thought that the reign of terror has come to a cessation, Jack struck again by slaughtering Mary Jane Kelly. Mary Jane Kelly, unlike the others, was very young, and attractive. She was a renowned whore in Cardiff, and was in complete conformity with her trade. She had everything going for her before she fell into the hands of Jack. The Ripper decimated, and dissected her on 9th of November at 13 Millers Court behind the close doors of her apartment.

But before he left the crime scene, he left a note for the police,

How can they catch me now? I love my work, and want to start again soon.
Good luck
Yours truly

Jack was right in his letter, the police force was truly unable to catch him. Increased public pressure, and special request from Queen Victoria herself, made them come up with many suspects, Many were arraigned, including surgeons, a couple of Jews, a butcher, a lunatic whose relationship had gone bad with a prostitute, and also Queen Victoria's own grandson! But they always fell short of proper, authentic evidence. The leads were flimsy. The obscurity of the proofs were unable to link the indicts directly to the appalling, and grisly inhumane carnage. So, his horrific murders were unresolved, and he embedded into a legend. He lived on as a faceless demented avarice for blood, with a cold, and baleful soul; an apparition of satan, that stalked the nooks of Whitechapel.

The crimes were committed a century back, but the stories still haunt the residents of Whitechapel. Anyone visiting Whitechapel can tour the sights of the gross murders with the help of a guide, who takes tourists on a 2 hours walk through the alleys which bears witness to the cold blooded killings.

Who was this mystery assailant? What was his motive? The answers to these questions still, and will always remain abstruse. The secret will always be safe with the unbodied souls, and Jack, under his grave.

By Sartaj Ahmed Khan Monjlish


Fool's Paradise

Iila braced herself in a futile attempt to defend the chill. Looking back into time was one thing Lila never wanted to do consciously. It's like regretting one's past deeds -- many would lament. But it's good-one can rectify one's wrongs -- some would surely comment. A few would agree with Iila. She shuns her past -- because her past hunts her when ever it finds a scope. And Iila is as vulnerable as her fragile present. For the last five years, Iila has fought every odd to stand upright. It took in numerable long, weary nights -- most of them sleepless, leaving Iila with red soggy eyes to glue up her shattered soul. She had to build herself bit by bit against all extremes. Many a times, she thought that she had lost. She had already lost hope. But she knew, she had to live her life till it ends. And that what she has been doing. Living after these five years, she was now neither happy, nor sorry with her present. The 'present' which keeps on drifting away into memories every now then still she lives on -- she lives in her past -- trying to wipe it off, like she wipes off her lipstick after putting it on.

The chilly Boston wind made Iila shiver once again. And as if in a flashback she went back to a morning 6 years back, in a faraway country, when Anish and touched her hand for the first time and Iila had responded by taking away her hand. Anish was taken aback. Later on, they both enjoyed reminiscing this incident on the second week of togetherness. Iila forgot nothing. She had tried her best, but the more she tried, the more she failed. Every single moment of her present had a similar moment in her past. When Iila gets a patient of liver cirrhosis, it reminds her, how Anish had made it an issue to spell the word 'cirrhosis' correctly. When an intern calls her "ma'am", she can hear Anish calling her ma'am whenever she would explain any topic from the books. When Iila puts on lipstick, she hears a muffling sound, as if Anish complaining, that it doesn't suit her, Iila wipes it off. The fire at her fireplace brings in the small of burning letters -- those that Anish had burnt to forget her. When Iila thinks of Dhaka, she cannot but remember the rides, the sites with Anish. Whatever she wore, whatever she did. whatever she said, whatever she wrote, everything, just everything had Anish sewn in. Iila's past was Anish. Iila had had adjusted herself in living like this. Every time she stumbled into any of Anish, her present would crumble down she had been living like this, for years.

Iila could bear living without Anish, but she couldn't live without loving him. That's why, although she was the one to leave him, she never stopped loving him. In her heart deep down inside, she held a silly notion, that he loved her. The question why Iila broke up with Anish made most wonder. Their's was the perfect relationship. But after fire years it really doesn't matter. Love is not enough in a relation. A commitment needs much more to commit. Iila had phrased before Anish five years back.

Two years after the breakup, some one else came up with the promises of love commitment. Then, Iila had realised, she never could love anyone else, she had given the last drop -- if you could imagine love in a lavishing liquid form -- of it to Anish, she cancelled her engagement to the rage of her suitor. People raised their brows, called her fickle minded, whimsical. Iila found here self to be lost. Lost without hope. She tried to float, she gasped for air. She got nothing but denials. Every other relationships -- with friends, kinds, even with her parents left her desolate. Isolated from all, she decided to live. And, since then, she has been living living in the love of someone she had sent away.

After all these years, Iila was supposed to go to Dhaka to her younger sister's wedding. Sheila had urged her to come this once. She said that she couldn't ask for anything else ever. Getting a bear from the Boston Memorial Hospital in the Christmas season was not a problem. The memorial owed Iila several.

She had attended the Christmas eve party at the memorial. Her flight was at 1 in the morning, she was browsing at the terminal bookstore. Then she heard someone calling out her name -- a familiar voice. The air port was warn -- but Iila felt the cold shrivel her. She saw a man running after a girl of three or four years, "Iila -- Iila-now that's enough -- we've a flight to catch. Come to Papa..."

Iila turned back, she didn't want to face her past in the present. Five years -- had always seemed like days to Iila. She could clearly envision anything of five years back. Now she suddenly felt the length depth of five years.

Iila felt a little structure stumble against her. She looked at the doll like features. She was smiling at Iila -- as if she knew her.

"Iila come her now."
"No!"
The little girl suddenly hugged Iila at her knees. Iila felt numb.
The father came in front, he took the kid in his arms. "Look Iila, what've you done! Say sorry."
The little one had no such intention, so he said "Sorry Ma'am, my kid -- she has ruined your dress." Little Iila had left chocolate smears all over Iila's white dress. "It's, it's okay, "Iila tried to move away. But he stopped her --somewhat started "Excuse me -- do I know you -- are you from Bangladesh?

Iila resisted herself from looking at Anish," No, I'm not."
Iila was scared to get on the same flight. Scared to face Anish -- Anish with his family. She cancelled her flight. "Would you like another date-- Doctor?"
"No, I don't think so, may be later."

Iila sat outside the Boston Memorial, on the cold cement bench. This had been her home for the last few years. She found comfort sitting here in the month's of loneliness. The snowflakes. Settled on her hair. She wept. The chill crept deep into her soul. She had always known, that she was bound to face Anish someday. After all, they were living in the same state. But now, Iila knew what she feared.

All these years Iila lived in a false hope that Anish loved her. She dreaded to face the truth -- that she was living with love for some one who did love Iila -- but a very much different Iila.

Someone had put up a fire few yards away. The crackling fire had the small of burring papers -- not of burning letters but of burnt memories.

By Saair


 
 

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