Friday, May 31, 2013

My Heart Is Heavy This Week

The Secret Gardens, erected at the intersection of Church and Tower streets in downtown Kingston last year in memory of slain children
This has been a hard week for me. Not because of any personal issues, but because of the series of gruesome tragedies reported in the news over the last few days. On Tuesday, we woke up to the news that a four year old, Natasha Brown from Trelawny, was missing. I think most Jamaicans automatically, immediately feared the worst, even while we hoped somewhere deep in our hearts that we were wrong. Well, we weren't. Her body was removed from a sinkhole on Wednesday morning, as the alleged killer, her father's pissed-off ex-lover, led authorities to where the little girl was dumped.

So many emotions are still coursing through my body regarding this tragic situation. I'm sad and heartbroken at the loss of this innocent little life. I'm confused by this murderous Jezebel's logic. And I'm angry.

How can a mother, of not one, not two, but four children, look at a four-year-old BABY and chop her up, severing her head? What possesses someone to kill a child - a CHILD? What kind of psychosis makes you believe it is not only permissible but right to exact revenge on the man who broke your heart by eliminating the 'pig' he fathered with another woman? This woman had five whole months of anger and jealousy stewing inside her that she mercilessly unleashed on that little girl who had no control over the circumstances of her existence. What a painful, unnecessary tragedy.

What is also confusing to me is that, based on the detached way Natasha's father speaks about her, their relationship seems to have been brief. Also, it doesn't sound like he's the father of any of her children, so WHY ON GOD'S GREEN EARTH did she feel she had any claim on this man and was so incensed that she was moved to commit murder?

I'm also wondering if the woman made any previous threats against either Natasha or her mother and, if so, why nothing was done about it. I don't think anyone just ups and butchers a child. She must have said something, even while cursing him out, that should have given Natasha's family or the wider Duanvale community cause for concern, right? I don't think it's ever wise to dismiss threats, even if they seem idle or made in the heat of the moment.

In the midst of my private mourning for the innocent life so wickedly snuffed out, the pieces of my heart were further shattered by the beheading of an 84-year-old vendor in the middle of downtown Kingston. Like, what the living hell? What is happening in this country? And to make matters worse, the decomposing body of a missing eight-year-old was found in a pit latrine in St Catherine, plus a newborn found dead elsewhere in Trelawny.

These are just the latest instances of violence against the most vulnerable members of our society and I'm sure there are more horrific crimes to come. The question is, what are we going to do about it? Are we, as a nation, going to just sit on our hands? I'm not talking about pointless marches with placards and chants. I'm not even going to ask what the government is going to 'do for us,' as is often the outcry. Yes, the government needs to place some importance on mental health issues amongst Jamaicans and provide the necessary counselling facilities. I'm pleased that Minister of Youth and Culture Lisa Hanna has called for the expansion of community mental health and counselling services to help people learn to deal with domestic conflicts, interpersonal disagreements and psychological issues. I sincerely hope this isn't just a knee-jerk reaction to a series of national tragedies, but that the necessary resources will be allocated to implement these desperately needed services.

We also need to become more observant and caring as a society. We have got to the point where people are quicker to whip out their camera phones and record or photograph someone being murdered and then post the pictures online, than they are to intervene to help prevent the crime. (Sidenote: ANYBODY - man or woman, boy or girl, friend or family - who sends me any such images on any platform will be instantly deleted not only from said platform, but my LIFE.)

If you see a person in danger or in need, see if you can lend a hand. You might just be able to talk that person out of killing someone or himself just by lending a listening ear. As a nation, we need to guard our children better. It's difficult to do these days, since the 'village' that raised our parents (and those of us closer to 30 than 20) has disappeared. One hardly dares to even gently correct an errant child these days, for fear that that same child or his irate parent will tell you how many strings have been lovingly knit together by the Creator to form your being, but sometimes, it's a chance we have to take. Sometimes, all it takes is one person to make a change. It might not be a national change, but it can alter the course of someone else's life and cause a chain reaction.

And as for the murderers of these children and the little old lady? May God have mercy on their lost souls, because right now, all I want is for them to suffer 100 times the horror of what they meted out to their victims. But "vengeance is mine," saith the Lord, so in the next breath, I ask Him to forgive me for my evil thoughts, as well as the times when I could have been an agent of positive change in someone's life but I turned and walked away. Please, let us do better.