BASSETERRE, St. Kitts - I sat on the edge of my office chair on that fateful day waiting to hear the news. Will he be convicted of drawing a gun and killing, in cold blood, another human being? Will I see him again, unshackled, freed, without that blue denim uniform synonymous with incarceration?
I found it very difficult to pull myself together and perform my duties because the bottom line is, I was uneasy, scared even.
My worst fears had come true and they quickly turned to anguish...I got the news and it appears I may not see him again.
The verdict was read and my relative, the one whose blood runs through my veins, was convicted. Murderer now prefixes his name. Etched with indelible ink onto the walls of the memories of many is his name, his new title.
What struck me was how easily – inwardly of course – I jumped to his defence and made sorry attempts at finding reasons why he should not have been convicted. Yes, the jury said he was guilty! Yet still, how could they convict my relative? Didn’t he have a good alibi? He would never do something like that...would he?
After I heard he was arrested and charged, I was outraged because, after all, he was my relative and this sort of behaviour isn’t what I expected of him. I foolishly and naively assured myself that justice will be done and he will be freed.
I purposely housed myself in a cocoon of ignorance and opted not to pay attention to anything being said, whether in the media or on the streets. What a stupid way to live!
Subjectivity was – quite a while after- replaced with objectivity and, before I ventured to express my feelings to anyone, I decided to do some research. I went searching for every news article ever written on the case and I read myself silly, taking in all the gory details, jotting down points as I went along.
After coming to my senses upon after reading these articles, I realised all the evidence pointed in his direction. I had no choice but to admit it. I had no choice but to concur with the jury. For utter foolishness, my very own flesh and blood senselessly and inhumanely pumped several bullets into someone; robbing him of his life, robbing him of his future, robbing his family the pleasure of his company.
As fate – or justice rather - would have it, I too am being ‘robbed’, and though it saddens me, it is for good reason.
My relative was sentenced to hang. I am now faced with the very real possibility that sooner or later the noose will be placed securely around his neck and he will breathe his last breath. He will cease to exist. His life will be taken.
I don’t want him to die. I don’t want him to hang. There are many other things which I don’t want, but I am forced to consider the wants of the mother who lost her son at the hands of my relative. And what about the father who still finds it difficult to rest at night because his son is no longer a room away or even a telephone call away? What about the siblings who still shed tears at the mere mention of their brother’s name?
I had reason to visit a particular store in Basseterre one day and couldn’t help overhearing a conversation that transpired between two women. They spoke of crime and violence in the Federation and – as I expected – slid talk of the death penalty into the mix. Their opinions on it were quite candid and bold which didn’t bother me much as I am like-minded. I was bowled over however when one of the ladies exclaimed, “I don’t care if is me son! If he have to hang, he have to hang!”
Never before had I heard words such as these, but they set me thinking. I wondered whether or not this woman was playing with a full deck of cards or whether her comments were sincere or merely a mini-fanfare for her one-member audience. I wondered if I could say the same about my relative who has been sentenced to death.
On countless occasions, my father expressed his undying love for me and I have reciprocated, but there is something which he told me during one of our many mentally stimulating conversations which stuck with me. He said, “I love you to death and I have taught you well, but if you dig your grave you will have to lie down in it.” I took those words for granted...until now.
My relative began digging and was successful in making a tiny hole which, over time, grew into the proverbial – and possibly literal – grave in which he is laid. He disobeyed the laws of the land and even the laws of life, and for that he must pay the ultimate penalty.
My very own flesh and blood now lives within the confines of Her Majesty’s Prison and, thought it pains me, justice must be served. He has been sentenced to death as comeuppance for his folly. And though it pains me, justice must be served.
Whether it be today, tomorrow, next week, next month or next year, when that time comes and the Federation hears that the order is passed for my relative to be hanged within the wall of the prison, as a law-abiding citizen of this country, I will declare, though it pains me, justice must be served.
Let justice be served!