Through the eyes of his mother…
By Shervin Belgrave
Kaieteur News – Rockey Sawh, at the age of 15 made headlines on November 18 last year. But it wasn’t for any outstanding achievement or anything heartening for that matter. According to reports, he was allegedly killed by his best friend during a sleep over. Details of that incident are still sketchy.
But who really was this teenager who, too soon, had to skip this earthly realm for the great beyond?
To those whose lives he touched, especially his mother, Amrita Panday, who loved him dearly, Rockey was a smiling ‘rock star.’
Panday, during a recent interview, said that she knew her son was special ever since he entered the world. In fact, she remembers the day quite well. It was September 2, 2005 and just before undergoing a C-section to aid his entry, she whispered a prayer. She recalled vividly asking God to ensure that she awakes from her surgery with a healthy baby lying next to her. That is all she wanted in that moment.
Indeed Panday’s prayer was answered for when she awoke, lying beside her, was her healthy new-born. She instantly fell in love with him. He was her beautiful “Sonaboy.” Panday smiled and held him tightly. He was her third son. Panday revealed that she had only recently separated from his father.
As she gazed upon the newest addition to her family, Panday decided that it was time to build enough courage to work tirelessly as a single parent to take care of her boys.
But before that, she had to decide on her new-born’s name. She already had two options — Ronaldo or Rockey. She decided on naming him Rockey Sunil Sawh. He was her ‘spoil child’ and ‘little toy,’ according to his brothers. Panday said that she developed a special bond with Rockey and would often call him her ‘soldier boy’ and ‘baby.’
‘THE ROCK STAR’
At the time of his death, Rockey was a student of the Cummings Lodge Secondary School. According to his mother, after he began school he developed a love for music and eventually started spending a great deal of time singing. His favourite genre of music, as expected, was rock. One day he proudly informed his mother that he was going to be a “rock star.”
Apart from his ambitious dream, Panday remembers Rockey as a charmer and a lover of animals. “He was handsome, sweet and always wore a smile on his face,” she recalled.
Rockey, she said too, would almost never get upset. “The only time he would get angry is when his brothers or I forgot to feed his pets — three puppies and a kitten,” Panday shared.
His teachers also spoke well of him, she added. They often reported to her during PTA meetings that he was doing quite well in school.
However, they would tell her that there was only one problem he had — he was a ‘sweet boy’ and would sometimes get distracted by the girls.
This was no surprise to Panday, who smiled as she reflected on his charming and playful attitude. He would even jokingly scold her at times, she recalled. “I love to dress up and he would tease me sometimes saying: ‘woman you are getting big and you got three sons, you need to stop dressing up so much’,” recounted Panday.
“I would tell him ‘what is wrong with you I am still young’ and he would hug me and call me his ‘short lady’,” she eagerly shared.
Other times, she continued, when they would go out on “little dates,” he would say, “‘when you going out with me you need to dress up and look good, only with me though’.”
As he was preparing to complete his secondary education, Rockey was still determined to become a ‘rock star,’ his mother disclosed. According to her too, he wanted to make music and tour the world while performing at mega concerts.
But Rocket had a plan B as well, she noted. That plan was to finish school then attend the Government Technical Institute (GTI) before heading to university to study to become an engineer.
However, little did his brothers or his mother, know that God had other plans for him.
THE SLEEP OVER
Rockey celebrated his 15th birthday on September 2, 2020 and perhaps like any other teenager he had many dreams and wishes for the future. He probably even had plans for a grand celebration this year. In fact, Rockey must have thought that he would have been part of the Christmas celebrations with his family or would have even welcomed the New Year with them.
Just over two months later, on November 17 to be exact, Rockey would spend his last day with his siblings and mother.
Trying to hold back tears, Panday recalled that she came home from work that afternoon and saw Rockey. They chatted for a bit then he asked her permission to sleep over at his best friend’s house. She had no objection. Rockey and his best friend had known each other for eight years and were like brothers.
“They dressed alike, and even looked alike, and would sleep over at each other’s house regularly,” said Panday.
“Their routine during sleep overs,” she quipped, “was watching TV, playing videogames and cracking jokes all night long, so I was not worried.”
Panday remembered Rockey entering the shower to take a bath. “He spent hours bathing and I asked him ‘why are you taking so long’,” she recalled.
He exited, dressed and they chatted some more.
He told her of his desire to “walk all over.” “I asked him why and promised that I will take him out that weekend,” recounted Panday. His response to her why, she revealed, was, “‘no reason I just want go all over and walk, I want to leave this country, I want to tour’.”
Panday said she smiled because that was always his dream. He wanted to tour the world as a ‘rock star.’
After they were done talking, he jumped on his bicycle and left for his best friend’s house.
At around 19:00 hrs. that night, Panday said he texted her to let her know that he had arrived safely.
Around 03:00 hrs. the following day, Panday received some heart-breaking news. Her ‘smiling rock star’ had been shot to his head and was hospitalized.
A chill ran through her as she rushed down to the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation.
When she arrived, she broke down in tears. Rockey was critical; he was bloody and there were tubes attached his body.
Doctors told Panday that her son was brain dead and chances for his survival were looking slim to none.
But she refused to believe that was the end for her beloved Rockey. She still had hope and prayed for God to save her baby.
As fate would have it though, by afternoon doctors who were battling to save Rockey’s life had to give up. Rockey had quietly slipped away to the great beyond.
The following day, an article in this newspaper with the headline: “Sleep over turns deadly after boy, 15, shot in the head” told the tragic tale of his demise.
The article stated that he was allegedly shot by his best friend during the sleep over. The best friend had reportedly shot him with his (the best friend) father’s licenced firearm.
News of his tragic demise sent shockwaves throughout Guyana and many began asking questions about his death.
Investigators had concluded that the shooting was accidental.
STILL A MYSTERY
Panday, however, has been left with many unanswered questions as to what really took place during her son’s last sleep over.
The best friend’s mother, she said, had since reached out to her and apologized for the tragedy.
But Panday said that she wants to meet with the best friend. “I want to reach out to him and speak with him and asked him what really happened that night,” she said. Knowing the truth, she added, would help her to cope with her grief.
Ever since Rockey passed away, Panday would spend many nights at home and sometimes, she confided, she would just scream as she calls to mind the cherished memories she had with her son.
“It’s hard to erase and forget; it will be there, but I have learnt that I have to try to live on,” said Panday.
She knows all too well that there are many other parents who have lost children tragically and, much like her, are struggling to sleep at nights.
But she has been learning to cope with her lost in hopes that her own experience will give her the courage to encourage others, especially mothers, to move forward. According to her, although the pain of losing a child will never go away, they must try to live on.
Her advice to hurting parents is that “God knows best and only He can give comfort.”
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