“While deforming the body, I adapted the principles of Jo-ha-kyu,” explained the murderess to describe the specific style with which she deformed the corpse. She was referring to the Japanese concept of arts, which advocated a slow start, peak in the middle and a rapid finish, to achieve beauty. “The body seemed like a map to me or one of the embroidery templates that already have the drawings that the needle should follow. Veins, appearing green due to the warm skin tone, led my knife through the flesh as if the silver tip was a drunken gentleman on his tiptoes. I started by cutting through the hairline, outlining the face.”
On July 27, 2018, a woman named Pemra Alieva, murdered a young woman called Sarah, followed by a deformation ritual which she described as a theatrical act. According to her own words, the process was divided into three parts, namely Jo, Ha and Kyu.
For the so-called Jo, as she explained, Pemra had outlined the body lines, then had followed the vein map which assured enough blood spill for the Ha, the peak. The body showed significant signs of attempts to break bones, yet due to her frail built, Pemra barely managed to cause any structural harm. Thus, she started to cut through the flesh violently. She caused the body to appear like a poorly eaten chicken thigh with random pieces of flesh hanging through the bones, the abdominal region being an exception.
The murderess kept the abdominal area for her Kyu, the rapid finish. One sharp, straight cut through the stomach—the “final curtain”.
In her utterance, Pemra mentioned the fact that she was torn between cutting through the eyeballs for “An Andalusian Dog” reference or slashing the stomach, but her decision was influenced by her desire not to mix Eastern and Western aesthetics. She shook Sarah violently, regretting the barbaric thought of bringing something from Dali into this perfectly crafted Asian ideal of art.
The woman seemed to completely lose her bonds with reality, as her mannerisms matched those of a theatrical performance and her speech patterns were ridiculously sophisticated for her situation.
Her relationship with Sarah was nothing more than studying at the same university and a shallow friendship.
The killer herself explained all of this in detail, even-tempered, and composed, as if telling a historical event, not her own memories. She was satisfied with her situation and calm and cautious enough to put on a lovely dress, curl her hair, and even put on her tiny-heeled shoes before reporting herself to the police. She even said that the more people heard about what she has done, the happier she would be.
Yet Pemra also informed the police that she was physically shaken and would never attempt to kill anyone ever again in her life. During the interrogation, she proposed a reason for the murder: Her friend was diligently trying to explain the scientific side of the Bloody Moon eclipse that was going to take place a few hours later. Pemra’s explanations were quite long and full of unrelated details, but no one attempted to cut her off during the interrogation.
She started her story from the very beginning, the dream she had last night.
We passed through miraculous lands with a man whose image I forgot, and finally reached a shimmering lake filled with countless blinking sparkles. The view was both welcoming and terrifying, full of trees and shrubs that were soft and fluffy, but their leaves had turned almost black. It was a scenery like a Falero painting—all the lines and borders were softened, wet and radiantly melting into each other, but not disappearing; the colours were creamy and bleak.
The man pointed to the lake and we leaned over. Millions of stars and planets were shining under the water.
“They say that the sky reflects on seas and lakes, thus they appear to be blue. But the truth is, the galaxy is hidden at the bottom of this lake and is reflected onto the sky. The galaxy is the reflection of a lake, not the other way around,” he said to me.
I thought of all those exciting discoveries of humankind, rockets wagging their flaming tails, and those nights when we could observe astronomical events, lunar eclipses, and Mars. As it turns out, those astronauts who felt closer to the limitlessness of the universe than any other, who smiled with pride and took photographs in front of their flags, had just been discovering an illusion. The events that excited us and the mysteries we thought we had unveiled, consisted of nothing but a wan, cadaverous reflection.
The galaxy became transparent before my eyes and trembled like a view from underwater. It was the first time I felt a sort of love for space. I’ve always loved the sky, but space, the galaxy, has been one of my avoided subjects. The sky is beautiful, but when science lifts the curtains of humility and decomposes the stars, and they cease to be tiny romantic sparkles but instead become actors for knowledge and comprehension, it becomes extremely unbearable to think about the galaxy. Beauty is beautiful with ignorance. It is intriguing with its veils and mysteries, like a lover. Knowing takes the magic away.
Now, I kindly ask you to imagine … I finally grow to love space with that blessed dream just one night before the Bloody Moon, and I am excitedly waiting for the eclipse. Then a shameless woman dares to strip my magic off. I would like to—I would like to explain to you my dears—and maybe you will find some sympathy for me.
What I wouldn’t give to experience the eclipse as it was a thousand years ago. Imagine the aura back then, at the time of the Bloody Moon—the peasants believing in what the devout say about the pale fairy with red cheeks; the fear of doom; the interpretations of the fortune-tellers; the conspiracy of the crone and the hag whispered in dimly lit corners; the anxiety rooted deep in the hearts of the youth despite their bravado and mockery; the uneasy eyes glued on the moon; those gnawing their lips; dice rolling; spells told—how I would love to see all of it.
In my life, I have heard two explanations about the Bloody Moon, and both opened doors to new eras. The first threw me into battle with an invisible god. The second turned me into a murder.
The first came from my father.
When I was not even going to school, when I was very, very young, my father always sat me on his lap at midnight, talking about the mysteries of nature. Back then, I liked to know the reason for something. How it rains and why the sun goes down … I was fascinated by nature, as well as the human being who is the most knowledgeable part of nature. My father said we should protect animals and nature. Because we were the only conscious creatures, and it was our duty to protect the vulnerable. Protecting all nature … Do you know how this creates a great ego in a child?
One night, we were sitting still, talking. There was a red moon and I asked why the moon turned red. My father first made a dull joke like, “They roasted the moon,” and then sighed, smiling as if revealing the true secret.
“Because God wanted it so,” he said.
It was the first time he talked about that idea called “God”. That night he told me this God of his was an omnipresent power, subjecting everything to his own will, incomprehensible to man. I can’t tell you how awful I felt. While I thought I was part of the idea of a perfect system, standing at the top of the pyramid as a human, I now encountered an unbeatable opponent. “Why am I not a god?” until I was thirteen, I have cried saying this. I was taking my revenge on God by drawing ugly pictures of him.
Long story short, the beauty of the first red moon was ruined for me by god. Even now, it saddens me so much that such a beauty is related to and stained with the feeling of such a grudge.
In the interrogation room, Pemra finally paused at this point and stared at the void, gritting her lips. She tilted her head softly, shifted her shoulders graciously, and leaned back.
“Years later, at the age of twenty-one, when I was going to love this magical event again, a woman made ugly comments about the lunar eclipse. They were scientific explanations of the kind that would eliminate anxiety, fear and mystery. All the magic broke up before my eyes. I told her to stop it, I told her that I did not want to hear about the reason the red moon was happening. She made fun of me.
I had to kill her so she could understand that the eclipse was supernatural and cursed. When this news comes out in the tomorrow, I’m sure someone will associate this murder with the red moon. I … Le Peur. The joy of life disappeared as fear disappeared. I killed that bad woman—whose name I do not want to mouth—for people. For them to feel the thrill again. To cheer you up … and of course, a little for the glory of the Moon. Would anyone sacrifice themselves so calmly to others? Though my sacrifice was rewarded—as a result of this sacrifice, a body lay in front of me, motionless. So that I could experience Jo-ha-kyu. How many women in the West have had this chance, my dear? To be part of a Japanese aesthetic principle … It was breathtaking!”
One of the policemen listening to her confession suddenly asked, “Do you believe in reincarnation?” A strange aura descended upon the room with his absurd question.
“Does it matter? If you’re going to say something beautiful, I believe,” Pemra said.
“And who do you think you were when you watched this Moon a thousand years ago? Which one of those characters in the story?” the policeman paused for a very short time and then said his own answer. He had asked this question so that he could answer it. He was not very interested in the woman’s answer. “I was a warrior,” he said with dreamy eyes. He imagined himself in the vision Pemra described, as one of those historical figures. “I was on the battlefield, fighting for my people, covered in blood. I raised my head to look at the sky and saw the moon, and I thought of the beauty of the Bloody Moon as a divine reward for my bravery.” He said this with childish excitement and seemed terribly moved by Pemra’s story.
“I—a thousand years ago—was the night itself, and the moon was bleeding in my chest.”
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