For John King and his adopted mother Ena Browne, this year there is no joy in their world, no merry Christmas at home.
Instead it feels as though the angel of death cruelly stole their Christmas when it snatched six-year-old Jahan King in a brutal and painful manner just short of six months ago.
John King, in particular, is shrouded in pensive sadness because while he was unable to see his son last year as a result of his incarceration in a Canadian jail, he was looking forward to sharing the spirit this Yuletide season.
“To tell you the truth I don’t know what kind of Christmas this will be for me. Last year he was alive and I wasn’t here but I talked to him on the phone. This year he ain’t here,” King told Barbados TODAY, with a mix of regret and sorrow.
Both King and Brown wish that somehow they could have their own Christmas Eve miracle, waking up to discover the entire episode was nothing but a bad dream and that Jahan would be up early tomorrow morning to open his presents.
But confronted with the reality that their boy is gone forever, they will settle for the next best thing: justice for Jahan.
“I want the truth. I want justice for my son,” King said.
Jahan died at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital on June 29 after arriving there with his mother, Lasonta Gill, around 12:15 a.m. The official death certificate has revealed that the child died of blunt chest and abdominal trauma.
Prior to his death, Brown had reported to the Child Care Board that the boy was being abused, presumably by Gill and her boyfriend, Dwayne Marshall. Both were questioned by the state-run child protection agency, and, following Jahan’s death, the police questioned and released them without charge.
Sitting in the gallery of his Deacons, St Michael home, King told Barbados TODAY he has had sleepless nights trying to make sense of the entire situation.
“This thing got me kind [of] even sleepless sometimes to know how a system could be so harsh on certain vibes, [yet] could be so lenient on these things. It just ain’t logical to me. I don’t know what kind of Christmas it is going to be.”
Meanwhile, Browne has also had great difficulty embracing the Christmas spirit, because she has been reliving the experience again and again. But she is determined honour her grandson’s memory by putting up the purple curtains she bought for the season.
“I don’t know what kind of Christmas I will have. Everything coming back to the mind fresh again now it is the holidays. I ain’t even feel to do things around the house,” said the grandmother who planned the child’s funeral service which took place on August 20 at the St Leonard’s Anglican Church.
Browne said it made little sense to her that the death certificate proved that the boy’s death was unnatural, yet she “just don’t know what going on with the case”.
She wondered if Jahan’s death had been forgotten and whether the authorities were protecting those who were complicit in his demise.
“It seems as though nobody cares; the child dead and nobody should be blamed for the death. He [Jahan] must [have cuffed] himself in the stomach and get the bruises he had, so he inflict those wounds on himself. If this was some person big in society this couldn’t happen, they would have had somebody hold every since.
“How could the whole of Barbados sleep comfortable knowing that a six-year-old child died of unnatural cause while in the care of the mother and stepfather and yet justice has not been served? Who them shielding, the Child Care Board? I don’t even know who to turn to but God.”
While Browne searches for answers, King plans to visit his son’s gravesite tomorrow. It’s about all he can do on this not so merry Christmas.