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Wed, Jul 21, 2010
The New Paper
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What he did will haunt us forever
by Hedy Khoo

SHE can forgive, but she will never forget.

For one young mother, the past year has been a living hell of loss, heartbreak and unanswered questions.

The man she loves killed the baby they had together. But to this day, she doesn’t know why he did it.

Rose (not her real name) was there at the final hearing of her husband’s case at the Community Court last Monday.

Her husband Devagirii was sentenced to two years jail for causing the death of their two-month-old daughter last year by shaking her repeatedly.

The 23-year-old showed up in court alone, dressed completely in black.

When it was her husband’s turn to be sentenced, she sat upright and leaned forward, her arms crossed, with one hand under her chin.

Nervous and tense
She appeared nervous and tense.

Rose told The New Paper on Sunday: “He has been punished by the law, but what he did will haunt us both forever even after he is released from jail.”

She requested not to be named as she has a two-year-old daughter.

The incident took place on June 10 last year at their rented flat at York Hill near Outram while Rose was at work.

She frequently had to work the night shift as a cashier at a petrol station, and her husband took care of the kids while she was at work. He was jobless at the time.

She found her baby acting strangely when she returned from work at 7am.

“I tried to feed her but she was grunting. Her limbs were making cyclical movements and her eyes just kept opening and closing,” said Rose.

“Until now I still don’t know what happened. I have asked my husband but his only response to me is that he doesn’t want to talk about it.”

The couple took the baby to the hospital where she died a week later on June 17 from bleeding in the brain.

A doctor said the injuries were most likely non-accidental and consistent with the act of rocking the baby relatively forcefully and repeatedly, known as the “shaken baby syndrome”, said court documents.

Her husband was arrested on June 15 and later charged with causing the death of their child.

The past year has been an emotional roller-coaster ride for Rose.

She said: “I was very torn between my love for my child and love for my husband. But I wanted justice for my baby.”

Rose had earlier this year written a letter to the court pleading for leniency towards her husband.

In the letter, she said she had forgiven her husband and needed him to help her take care of their first daughter.

She added that her husband loves her children and that his act could have been rash but not intentional.

But now Rose finds it difficult to stay married to her husband.

She said: “I can never forget that he caused the death of our child. He robbed me of my daughter and destroyed our family.

“Being with him would be a constant reminder of what he did.”

Why write the letter then?

She said: “I was angry with him, but I wrote the letter because he was a good father and he stood by me during difficult times in the past.

“I wanted to be fair to him in letting the court know what he was like.

“I could not believe that he could have done that to our younger daughter. Even though he pleaded guilty, I wanted to believe he was innocent. Maybe I was in denial.

“When you love someone, it is hard to accept that they can betray your trust.”

She also felt sorry for her husband as he, too, had been struggling with the child’s death.

In his mitigation, his lawyer, Mr S Balamurugan, cited a psychiatrist report which stated that Devagirii suffered from a depressive episode after his daughter’s death and may have “unresolved grief issues” from his past.

He was disowned by his parents about five or six years ago for wanting to marrying a woman they didn’t approve of. Then she took her own life.

Mr Balamurugan said Devagirii had asked him to thank Rose for writing the letter and promised to be good to her after his release from prison.

Said Mr Balamurugan: “My client will always have a deep sense of guilt knowing his rash act caused the death of his daughter. This is punishment itself.”

But Rose is not ready to forgive. In part, because he never explained how the incident happened.

She added: “Neither has he apologised to me for what happened.

“I cannot accept what he did but I also sometimes blame myself for not spending time with my baby.

“She was with us for only two months but I was mostly either working or sleeping when I got home.”

At a loss

Rose said at first she was at a loss after her baby’s death.

“I lost my baby, then I lost my husband when he was arrested. I felt like giving up.

“What gave me strength was realising that my older daughter needed me. She is my sole reason for living.” she said.

Two months ago, Rose found a job as an administrative assistant working from 9am to 5pm.

While she is at work, she sends her daughter to a nursery school.

Devagirii was jailed for causing the death of their baby through a rash act.

He could have been jailed up to five years and fined.

This article was first published in The New Paper.

readers' comments
Being jobless and dependent on a woman to be the sole bread winner of the family, can be hard for a man to come to terms with. I feel that he had no intention of hurting his child. The child's incessant crying that unfortunate day, might somehow have cause him to snap. A family has been torn apart through this unfortunate tragedy !
Posted by heavenlyangel on Thu, 22 Jul 2010 at 04:12 AM
A man without job is a desperate man, a desperate man is a dangerous man, a dangerous man can causes harm, harm cause casualty, casualty causes regret, but regret always comes to late.

What has become our world?
Posted by lowbuck2 on Wed, 21 Jul 2010 at 08:12 AM

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