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Falling through the chasm

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Six-year-old Keyana Cumberbatch was perversely consumed. Like a thoroughly sucked mango seed she was discarded, casually tossed into the garbage. Some unspeakable creature sated his demonic lust in a manner that most of us simply can’t process. “How ah man could look at a chile and do something like dat!” 


My career as a reporter was cursed with a seemingly interminable stint on the crime beat, so the brutal nature of Keyana’s murder did not resonate in me with the same force it did the nation. One persistent impression left by my years in the killing streets was a complete desensitisation to the horror of violence to which I was exposed on a weekly basis. 


There came a point though, when the traumatic imagery branded onto my brain had become problematic. I was desensitised, but my thoughts weren’t sanitised. It became necessary to think of these victims as less than human, but in so doing I was also becoming less than human. 


While Keyana’s murder was deeply shocking, we have a long history of devouring our children in some of the most horrifying ways. Occasionally, faded strands of consciousness transport me back to the morning I visited the scene of a murder/suicide in St Joseph. An overburdened father, buckling under either impossible responsibilities or domestic upheaval, took the default exit path: the murder-suicide. He drugged his three children, though apparently not very effectively, and then went at them with a cutlass.


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