PORT OF SPAIN –– Krishna Ramlal’s biggest regret in raising his son, Sham, was leaving him when he was just a boy in Trinidad and journeying to New York in search of a better life for his family.
Ramlal now believes that Sham was starved for love in his formative years, causing him to act out with violent outbursts towards him and his wife, Flora Siewnarine, in his adult years.
Ramlal, 60, was released from police custody on Saturday night, six days after he was detained for questioning in Sham’s death.
Sham died at the house he shared with his parents from a stab wound to the stomach on Mother’s Day.
In an interview Tuesday, Ramlal had this advice for parents: “Do not miss out on those important years in your children’s lives. It can make all the difference in the world.”
Ramlal said he and Flora had left Sham, then eight, and his sisters — Sandra, 14 and Seeta, 12 — with their paternal grandmother to try to make a better life for their family in New York.
“I couldn’t take them with me at that time. I didn’t know where I was going or what I would meet. We were just trying to get a better life for our children, to make something that they would have for the rest of their lives.”
While in New York, Ramlal worked in one menial job after the other, pinching pennies until he was able to make a downpayment on a house.
Things seemed to be going according to plan until Sham began having seizures and blacking out, he said.
“When he started having seizures, he was about nine and my mother took him to all the doctors and hospitals in Trinidad but nothing was working.
“When he was about 12 or 13 I came home and took him to New York with me to try to get him some help,” he said.
His daughters would soon follow as their grandmother passed away some months after.
“We were together as a family again and Sham started getting treatment at hospital where the doctors had him on a lot of medication.
“After about two years, the doctor called me in one day and said that they had seen a clot in his brain during an MRI scan.
“He said when Sham was exhausted, the clot expanded and caused him to seize and blackout, but he told me that because of the treatment the clot would not bother him.
“The only condition he gave me was that Sham should not be allowed to drink alcohol or use illegal drugs.”
But when the family returned to Penal from New York seven years ago, Sham began to spin out of control slowly.
The death of his eldest sister, Sandra, five years ago was a major tipping point for him, his father said.
“He started with one or two drinks but after Sandra died he started to get out of control. He would come home drunk, mash up anything, curse me and his mother. It was not a nice thing to live with.”
In spite of all of that, Ramlal said he tried his best to live with his son.
“He was my only son, everything I have, down to my last pair of underwear, was Sham’s. I made my will years ago, leaving the house and land to him.”
He said if he could do it again, he would have stayed in T&T with his children.
“Now I could look back and say it didn’t make any sense. I should have stayed here with my children.”
Relating his experience on the night his son died, Ramlal said: “We were sleeping and he came and started cursing and beating the door.
“He was playing the radio loud and when I went outside to take it off, he started beating me. I got away and come inside the room but he followed me . . . I was bending down to put the radio on a chair when he jumped on me and started kicking me.”
Ramlal said the knife which would end his son’s life was on his dresser at the time.
“Most of the time we would hide the knives and cutlasses from him. I guess he see it then and pick it up. We started to struggle for it and the whole time he was kicking me and cussing me.”
The struggle led them into the kitchen area where Ramlal said Sham slipped on a mat and fell to the ground.
“He was holding onto the knife and I was trying to take it from him. When he fall, the pointy tip of the knife was facing him.”
But he said he did not realise Sham had been injured.
“I fell on top of him and suddenly I couldn’t find the knife, so I jump up and ran outside. I didn’t know anything was wrong with him. It was only when his mother went into the kitchen, she started bawling, saying ‘Sham bleeding’.”
Ramlal was taken into custody on the same night by officers of the Penal Police Station.