Child dies after frenzied attempt to ‘beat out spirits’
“Me live forty years and me nah know bout jumbie; me mek four pickney, me nah know bout jumbie; me husband dead and he nah come fuh visit me,” – Grandmother
The mysterious death of a 13-year-old girl has created huge division between the residents of Canal Number Two Polder on the West Bank of Demerara.
Sangeeta Persaud called Sheena succumbed at the West Demerara Regional Hospital on Sunday night after efforts by members of her church to ‘free her from spirits’ failed.
Allegations are flying left, right and centre, that the teenager might have been affected after eating a meal from a religious function that was held by a resident of the area. But according to the neighbours, the child was not even at thee function.
Residents are convinced that had the child been taken to the hospital immediately after falling ill, instead of wasting hours trying to rid her of spirits, she might have had a chance of survival.
They are anxiously awaiting the results of a post mortem examination to dispel their fears.
Chitranie Chaitu, the dead girl’s grandmother, who has been caring for her since she was nine years old, told this newspaper that the Kawall Primary School student was alive and well up to about 08:00 hours on Sunday. It was only after she drank a cup of tea that signs that something terrible was about to happen.
“Me sit down pon de bed and de gal come and grab me. Me thought was joke she ah mek. But me see she eye ah roll up and she ah juck up in de whole house,” Chaitu recalled.
She began rubbing the child with Limacol, hoping to revive her, but the effort failed.
Chaitu then questioned the child but the answers she received were inconclusive.
“Me ask she if she belly ah hurt, she say no, you back ah hurt, she say no. Me ask she wha wrang with you Sheena? She drink lil more of the tea and she start again. She had ah twist up and she ah holler like if something ah frighten you. She face start get dark and she turn up she eye,” Chaitu told Kaieteur News.
She said that she eventually contacted the child’s mother, suggesting that the teenager might have contracted a ‘spirit’.
A few minutes later the teenager’s mother arrived, followed shortly after by a senior member of a Church in the area.
“As soon as he come, he start fuh holler, ‘Get out! Get out!’ But Sheena de done helpless already. Dem ah squeeze she and so like dem ah tek out jumbie from she. ‘Get out! Who send you?’ But de pickney can’t talk’,” Chaitu explained.
All this ended at about 11:00 hours.
Instead of taking the child to the hospital, they then lifted her into a car and took her to a church nearby.
According to her grandmother the child was kept there until 17:00 hours while brothers and sisters from the church with the blessings of the teenager’s mother continued their ‘exorcism’.
But try as they might, Persaud never regained consciousness.
“Dem ah squeeze dis child belly, all ah she privates. De momma dem ah sing and ah clap,” Chaitu said.
Kaieteur News was told that other villagers who had gathered at the church were prevented from entering while the ‘exorcism’ was being performed. This was after they demanded that the child be taken to the hospital.
“Me tell de mother when she recover me nah want am back because jumbie hold am ah me place. So dem throw anointed oil ah she mouth then dem tek lime and salt,” said Chaitu.
She said that one of the church members even claimed that he was feeling when the jumbie was coming out from the child’s nose.
By this time the child’s mother became worried and realizing that Chaitu was not too much in favour of the activity, she tried to coerce her to go home.
“Me live forty years and me nah know bout jumbie, me mek four pickney me nah know bout jumbie, me husband dead and he nah come fuh visit me,” Chaitu stated.
After all the efforts failed, the child was eventually taken to the hospital where she was immediately admitted.
But despite the desperate efforts of doctors there, not surprisingly to her grandmother, Sangeeta Persaud succumbed at around 22:00 hours on Sunday.
Chaitu denied that the child was beaten during the botched exorcism.
But Jacqueline James, who lives opposite the church, told this newspaper a different story.
“They close up the church and we hear the child screaming but we can’t go into the church because they lock it. They should have taken the child to the hospital,” James said.
She claimed that the church members had alleged that ‘Nowraatri jumbie’ had possessed the child.
This she said stemmed from a recent Hindu function that was held at the home of a villager which was attended by the child’s grandmother.
But the child’s grandmother dismissed this, claiming that the child was not even around nor did she eat any of the food from the function.
The residents claimed that every Sunday they would hear church members ‘beating demons out of persons’, including babies.
They claimed that they have involved the police in the matter and they are anxiously awaiting the results of the post mortem examination on the child’s body, which is expected to be performed today.
Sangeeta Persaud would have celebrated her 14th birthday next month.