Khamal had big dreams - Boy killed over guard ring wanted to become big league keeper like his brother
Natasha Roach she sat on an embankment across from her house in Deeside, Trelawny, wiping tears intermittently as she struggled to come to terms with the sudden loss of her son, Khamal Hall.
The 16-year-old grade 10 student at William Knibb High School in the parish died on Monday, after being stabbed by a student on the school grounds during a dispute over a guard ring.
Roach, a mother of two, said she had a premonition that something bad was going to happen that morning. However, losing her son was the last thing on her mind.
"When I woke up I had a very low feeling in my belly. I tried to stand up but my feet were weak. The feeling took over my whole body, and I decided not to go to work," she said while shaking her head from side to side.
Minutes after 11:00 that morning she got the worst possible new a mother could receive. Khamal had been stabbed and had been rushed to hospital. Roach said that she cried for the 12-mile journey from Deeside to Falmouth, even as she prayed that her boy would survive.
"When mi reached the hospital they tried to prevent me from going inside. I parted the crowd and went inside. There was Khamal, lying on the bed with cotton in his nose. I knew then he was dead, and I burst out bawling," Roach said as she recounted one of the most horrific chapters in her life.
The devastating news hit the family hard. Una Jarrett, Khamal's grandmother, has been crying, almost non-stop. His father, Fitzroy Hall, who is on the farm work programme in Canada, had to be hospitalised, and Roach has been having sleepless nights.
Khamal kept goal for William Knibb High School in the daCosta Cup and had his sights set on becoming a big-league custodian like his brother, David Swaby.
The elder brother has been trying to block the news of the incident from his mind. He has hardly eaten since.
"Mi hear but mi nuh hear. Mi nuh want believe it. A more than mi bredda, him a mi friend," said Swaby, who is the goalkeeper at Mount Pleasant United in the National Premier League. "Wi move close. Wen him go training a mi gear dem him wear. Dem even call him Swaby di way how wi move."
Roach said that Khamal loved sports and was a very good high jumper. She said, too, that he was intent on exploring a career in plumbing, as it was his backup in the event his quest to become a professional footballer did not materialise.
"I encouraged his ambition but told him to get a skill. He agreed and planned to enrol at HEART/NSTA to qualify as a plumber. Him loved the plumbing and worked along with his uncle, a plumber, on weekends," the grieving mother said as she Natasha staring blankly into the mountains surrounding the village.
"Mi will live with the memory of his success at sports. I will not part with his trophies and medals. They will always be a part of me," she said as she gathered them lovingly.
Neighbour Princess Brown, who has been a tower of strength for Roach since her son's untimely death, described Khamal as "a feather in his mother's cap".
"He made her proud from his sporting activities. We work in the same department and when we got the chance we would go to watch him play. When he made a good save she would jump and cheer with a smile right across her face," said Brown.
Following Monday's shocking incident, William Knibb High School's acting principal, Audrey Steele, said that several finger-worn ornaments, said to be guard rings, have been confiscated from students.
"I don't know what value they have placed on these rings, but we are constantly taking away these rings ... and the more you confiscate them is the more they come," the acting principal stated.
Guard rings are believed to hold supernatural power for the wearer, providing protection from harm and even death. The police have, in the past, said that some scammers in western Jamaica have been turning to the world of the occult, obeah and black magic for protection. It is not known why Khamal had the ring, which his mother admits to have seen him with.
"Mi see him wid di ring and wen mi ask him bout it, him seh is fi a fren so mi leave him, only to hear now bout all kinds of things about guard ring," Roach said.
"Mi nuh si Khamal wid nuh evidence to say him a scammer," she said, throwing her arms in the air.