I’m standing there, lonely as an orphaned woman and looking at both the silver gray urns on the metal plate in the green. It’s dribbling, but I don’t notice. The drizzle is mingling with my silent tears and flows down my grieved drawn face. I will and I shall be strong, but nothing is more difficult.
My soggy hair is stuck on the back of my neck like a snail. Wherever my parents may be, in these urns or as in an immortal soul in one or another dimension, my thoughts are with them. I am neither an atheist nor a convinced hypocrite, but the longer I am in this world, how more I doubt the existence of a Supreme Being. Some call this creature God, some gave Him another name. ‘If’ He exists and has any power or influence upon this world, if He has the force to intervene, then such a thing may not happen.
Images flash through my mind. An afternoon in the snow with my father, when we had built a giant snowman, with everything that goes with it. I remember the beautiful black hair of my mother I liked to brush when I was a little child. The wisdom of life I was fed every day by both of my parents.
A God who allows this, I will decline today. The human or humans who are responsible for this, I know them all the better. It’s the only creature that possesses the ability to decimate without remorse his own kind, to rape and to slaughter someone as an animal and to quartering them. The only living thing, that before you can say ‘knife’, murders his own species and without looking back, without standing still for even a moment at his irreversible deed, goes further, as if nothing has happened.
The remains of my parents, two times a handful of ashes, descend under the ground in their respective ash-urns. A brass-colored plate, not so big, where their names, birth- and dying date in small characters is printed, move automatically over this space and takes their place. It seems like a not fitting magic trick: now you see them… then they are away! In my heart, they will never disappear.
Arturo Mitsukai and his wife Sachiko Matai have died a violent death. Violence is surely from the beginning of mankind an unmistakable statistic data. The urge to survive that is anchored in our genes is simply not to cut out like a lump or cancer. It is inherent in our society and it is curved in our soul as a brand. Both in men and in the community, there is only one rule, one rule that is still valid. It’s the law of the strongest! Sometimes the result of this law is directly proportional to the use of the power by the person who handles the violence. Alas, some people know only this answer and just listen when they feel a hard hand. Another time the used aggression is so excessive that the majority openly disapproves because it misses its target. But when that piece of a brutal perversion touches you personally, it changes you forever. It’s cancer that grows and at a certain moment burst open like an overripe pimple. With all the catastrophic consequences that follow. It crawls into your brain, it nestles in your mind as a virus, a worm that causes irreversible damage.
Friends and acquaintances of my parents, some of them I have seen in the past, people of the accountancy firm where I work, other ones who are perfect strangers to me, have just given their sympathy in a silence which is loaded with the manner my parents, literally and figuratively, are cut out of life. I may not imagine it myself, I must try to push it away with all my force in an exclusive corner where they may slumber in silent grief. There I will save them for a while until the moment is there. And then, when it is time, I will bring these feelings again to the surface. Never will I forget what has happened, never will I forgive the perpetrator!
My name is Yukiko Mitsukai and today I promise retribution for these murders. I’m calling on the blood oath. It is the vengeance, the retaliation that is the only exception to the peaceful teaching of the Akai. If it is not possible in these circumstances, if this oath is not in order now, then I say there is no reason for the existence of the use of this with the Akai.
Exceptional circumstances demand exceptional measures that you have taught me. As true as I am your daughter, I will search your murderer, find him and hunt him, wherever he may be hiding. Even if I have to search the other side of the world or in the deepest caverns of the hell, he won’t escape me. It may take me my whole life or till someone kills me. I will try to use everything in that process what you have taught me to reach my goal. Because so much that is from me, comes from you. What you have given me is priceless. Something I have to be grateful and I am.
My hands and feet will be weapons, my mind harder and sharper than the steel of a sword. I hope that my revenge can give you peace. The death of your killer will be nothing compared to what he has done to you. That and nothing less, I promise you as I am Akai in heart and soul.
Arturo Mitsukai was cutting here and there in a steady and professional way some leaves out of a bouquet of flowers. Arturo was in the winter of his life. His age was difficult to estimate. You hardly should accredit him his seventy-five years. Still Arturo walked very straight as when he was a proud young man. His pace was even now very confident and steady. Maybe a little slower than before. His short trimmed silvery white hair was a natural hint for the many years he counted. The wisdom that shined through his eyes and the serenity in the words when he spoke, witnessed of an experience he had gathered during his lifetime, but also of his deep knowledge of things. His physical condition was first-class, that was his every day’s concern. Arturo Mitsukai was running every morning about five kilometers, outside if the weather allowed it, otherwise on the treadmill he has bought years ago. He rode quite a lot of distance on his bike or home trainer in his hobby room. A healthy mind in a healthy body wasn’t an empty phrase for him.
His greatest passion was his greenhouse, a conservatory for his exotic flora. Arturo possessed a large collection of flowers and plants. From dozens of kinds of orchids, like the hybrids Cymbidium, Vanda and Phalaenopsis to Bromelia of different species like Billbergia, Guzmania, and Aechmea. Also yuccas, and other tropical plants decorated his greenhouse. Nowadays, after years of searching and working passionately with them, he could name them by their popular and Latin name.
Orchids, he told sometimes to his friends, prosper in a high atmospheric humidity. That’s why they perfectly mixed with plants that have a lot of great leaves. He told them that orchids were epiphytic, that means that they grow on other plants. That’s the reason why they are tied on a bark with a special substrate. To achieve a natural effect, you can make a sort of tree of them so it could be combined with the Bromelias he raised. Greenhouses and their use had little mysteries left for Arturo and when an accidental visitor came by he was overenthusiastic. He was forgiven because of his passion for his life work.
An uninitiated one wouldn’t understand what he was doing. Why he removed with tenderness and love the still green leaves and sometimes even a blooming flower – pieces that represented life – out of the bouquet? You could have thought that it was an act of useless mutilation, the annihilation of a little bit of natural beauty. Why had he put separately the green leaves and the cut flower in a recipient? Later he would give a proper destination for this collection of cut out flowers and removed parts of a plant.
These leaves, flowers, represented new life. Fertilizer for another flower or plant. Their cycle of decay was a part of the circle of life for the other plant or flower. This was one of the ways the Akai followed. Akai or the color red in Japanese stood symbol for the sun on their flag the Hinomaru. It means solar disk and she still colored their national flag. For the Akai, the sun was the source of life and growth.
The strength and the aesthetics of a flower may not be minor to the quantity of blossoms and the green of the leaves. Dependant, yes, of the number and the size of the leaves that differs from every sort of flower. And so the flower grows and blossoms, a plant in all his display. Waste was a sin against the rules of nature. This way of life of the Akai saw to it that there was equilibrium, balance and peace in the vegetation and the flower culture. And so it was in the greenhouse of Arturo Mitsukai.
This way of thinking could, in certain cases, be equivalent to some of the life values with humans. Sometimes it’s better to develop some of his qualities by turning his known weaknesses into positive energy. The force of a human is as strong as his greatest weakness. By going this way, a man improves himself as a whole. By working on his lesser sides, a man or a woman strengthens the total image they have from their selves.
When the door of the greenhouse opened and the chilliness of the evening for a moment blew over the back of Arturo, he didn’t look back. The smell of jasmine tea came towards him in the person of Sachiko Matai, his partner in life. Just like him, she was dressed in a sober black and white ensemble that emphasized her light colored skin. A skin as silk he knew so well, a body he worshiped still. His love for Sachiko in the last season of his life was indeed not marked anymore by the fierce colors of passion or the impetuosity of youth. Nowadays their relation knew the sought profundity of control, a virtue that is peculiar to old age and the knowledge of their unconditional love for each other. The proof of this they have given so many years, so many days together in prosperity and bad luck.
It goes without saying that such a thing is only possible after a long time. To be able to go together through life is a privilege to be proud of. It is an adventure through trial and error, a process of learning and understanding, giving and taking. Moments of happiness switch with periods of disaster as in any human life, but each time one helps another to recover. This was the heart of their love. It was not an easy way, but eventually it led again and again to a daily rejoicing of the deep affection between man and woman.
With a loving smile as a silent thank you, he sipped at his hot jasmine tea she had brought him. He preferred this sort of tea, not only because he thought it was the finest scented teas, but also because the tea was made by putting jasmine flowers between the leaves of green tea. He found it symbolically in balance with his hobby, with his hundreds of flowers and plants he cultivated in his greenhouse.
Actually the tea he drank was of Chinese origin where they used ten kilos of jasmine flowers to recover one kilo of jasmine tea. The beverage had a soothing influence and worked relaxing. It stimulated even his digestion, what was very important at his age. That’s why he was always grateful for the tea his wife prepared for him every day.
He thought Sachiko Matai was still good-looking, even if she was only five years younger. On multiple occasions, he told her so. Real love and affection were expressed in words but also deeds. Sometimes after years of silence or taking for granted a certain fact, this self-evident affection disappears sparsely and suddenly on a day it had vanished.
Sachiko allowed herself to color her gray hair black. She did it to please her husband and not out of personal vanity. It would be a sin to the Akai. Arturo had told her that the first time he met her, it was her long black hair that attracted his attention. First her hair, then her silent smile that shined in her eyes and finally, when he really learned to know her, he felt for Sachiko herself.
This was such a long time ago. Long passed times and then she was still a young and ignorant child. Now, as a grown-up woman she made her hair in a bun, but in the evening in the intimacy of their bedroom she loosened it. Then Arturo caressed her long raven hair before he kissed her good night. Sachiko never had used makeup in her life. Her husband told her every time she had a natural beauty, and every time she blushed as the young girl she used to be.
Even before Arturo had drunk his cup of tea, the light of the greenhouse turned off and so many things happened at the same time. Arturo and Sachiko were both surprised by the darkness as by the strange smell of the spray that came out of the sprinkler system. Frightened they tried to run to the exit of the greenhouse, but their feet refused to perform their service after a few unstable steps. The world turned before their eyes as a fuzzy image and they were seeking support for each other. These last steps that removed them from the air rich in oxygen and freedom were not granted to them.
The outline of the greenhouse door disappeared in a darkened mist before their eyes when they both fainted between their orchids, lily’s, Bromeliads and other exotic plants that shared every day in their love.
Slowly the world came back in diverse gradations of pain. It pulsed like the nagging bumps he felt in the back of his head or a toothache, the dry throat that cried for water and the bruising of his old bones. It was an extremely tormented feeling in his body becoming conscious again.
Arturo moaned softly when he opened his eyes. The light was bright and it sliced painfully like the sharp side of a knife through his mind. As a result, he turned extremely slow his head to his right side. He was full of terror and fear when he saw that his wife Sachiko found herself in the same condition.
Just like him, she was tied up to hands and feet on a chair. She was beside him, within reach. If he wasn’t cuffed he could have touched her. So close and still so far away. Gagged with a dirty piece of cloth she also was coming to herself and looked around surprised and frightened at the same time. A startled and worried look appeared in her eyes when she noticed Arturo.
Then the first musical sounds glided through the space where they were tied up. The tones vibrated with heat through their awakening body. Both Sachiko and Arturo, who liked a bit of good classical music, regained consciousness on the sound of a dark requiem.
That is a piece of Mozart, it occurred to Sachiko, almost at the same time that her husband recognized the composition. The well-known words sounded through their heads, but a beating headache prevented them from being surprised about the music. Facts mingled with their haunted feelings.
The Requiem of Mozart was the last and unfinished work of the Master, composed on his sickbed. It was literally and figuratively his last composition, his Requiem. One of the futile facts that flashed through Arturo’s mind was that Frans Xaver Süssmayr had made of this unfinished composition a legendary many-voiced music piece.
Why he thought of this, at such a moment, he didn’t know? Just a neurotransmitter that transferred some information through a synapse in the head. A chemical reaction for a moment when another business in their critical position was far more important.
They heard the tunes and the words of the Lacrimosa, the sixth part of the Requiem of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, coming out menacingly from different corners of the wall.
That day of tears and mourning,
When from the ashes shall arise,
All humanity to be judged.
A theatrical figure, dressed in a wide white robe, came into the room and suddenly danced as an unrealistic ghost with swaying gestures around them. Arturo and Sachiko followed the creature with frightened eyes. On each tone of the death song, he swayed with a samurai sword around them, between them, touching them during this dance macabre with great accuracy. The shining weapon reflected the light with every movement and with every strike. Flashing strikes to wound, not yet to kill. Like the baton of the conductor, the white ghost handled the razor-sharp weapon on the sounds of the song. As a master, he skinned and flayed on the rhythm of the music.
Cutting and carving. Digging and turning. The gag suffocated for a part the crying of pain and their pleading for mercy. The blood flowed with every note, more and more in a dark crescendo, a threatening climax. The white robe that their executioner wore became red, soaked with blood on the sounds of the grave music. The chant led to an inhuman tragic, but certain death. And the death danced as a devil around them!
Huic Ergo Parce Deus
Pie Jesu, Domine,
Spare us by your mercy, Lord,
Gentle Lord Jesus,
Grant them eternal rest.
The life of Arturo Mitsukai and his wife Sachiko flowed rapidly out of them. Their bodies were battered and pieces of skin were hanging in rags around their body. In their bloodshot eyes, there was no hope, almost no more light. Just a little pilot flame that could turn off any moment.
Dona Eis Requiem.
A prayer! Give them peace! The white and red nightmare that, alas, was no dream, raised himself in all his power, ready for the last notes. The sword high above him and on the word ‘Requiem’ he took a swing with all his force laid in the last stroke by which he decapitated his two victims in a fluent movement with his dead-sharp Nihonto.
The figure repeated several times the last word of the Requiem even louder than the voices of the chorus while the heads of Arturo and Sachiko were rolling before his feet, released out of their suffering. His ultimate satisfaction, their pardon in death!
‘Amen, Amen, Amen!’
copyright Rudi J.P. Lejaeghere