Book helps author break free from trauma of brother’s murder – The Royal Gazette

Updated: April 21, 2022 08:14

Carlene “Zavane” Spencer-Darrell with her new book, Why I Killed My Brother (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

A Bermuda author has uncovered the true story of her brother’s murder at the hands of her other brother in a book that spanned 15 years.

Carlene “Zavane” Spencer-Darrell said the writing process why i killed my brother helped her come to terms with the traumatic event and overcome some of her own inner demons.

She is to organize a signing and discussion session tomorrow evening.

Published by Bermudian Brooklyn Knight in December, the paperback not only documents the tragic Court Street stabbing that led to the death of its youngest brother in 1995, it addresses some of the root causes of the incident that arose within his own family.

Ms Spencer-Darrell, who was in her 30s when her brother died, tells the story from her perspective. She said, “For me, during the writing phase, there were a lot of tears and isolation, and a few moments of admiration. You re-read and say, was I?

“Bermuda has such a culture of pride and secrecy, and for me that created a huge internal struggle with how I presented myself and who I really was on the inside.

“There was a lot of guilt for me in regards to my brothers and it gave me a moment to breathe out, I could breathe – it’s liberating.

“When you judge yourself you think everyone else is judging you and that’s a horrible way to be. Healing is an endless journey and there are triggering moments where I go back to my old self, but it’s it’s about working through this process.

Carlene “Zavane” Spencer-Darrell’s new book, Why I Killed My Brother (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Although the events of the book are true to reality, Mrs. Spencer-Darrell used different names for the characters and wrote it under her pseudonym and real middle name Zavane which in Swahili means Strong Girl.

His deceased brother is written as Nia [Unity in Swahili] Cole and the Brother Who Killed Him as Jake Cole.

The book is dedicated to Nia. In her dedication, she describes him as: “The most beautiful baby I have ever laid my eyes on” and that when he became a young man he was “carefree and always kept a balanced demeanor”.

Ms Spencer-Darrell was forced to care for her brothers from the age of 11, as her mother worked three jobs and her father was a fisherman and artist.

She considered herself a Cinderella figure and went abroad to attend elementary school in St. Kitts.

This is where much of her guilt stems from, as she believed that if she had stayed with her brothers, “things wouldn’t have gotten worse between them”.

She also documents a rocky relationship with her mother and a rocky divorce between her parents that led her brothers to take sides, not to mention other dramatic events.

“I’m going from when my family dynamics led to this event,” she explained. “You never know what’s going on behind closed doors, you just see the behavior and you see the consequence.”

She said the book was particularly poignant in Bermuda’s current climate of violence and said people have reached out to her to tell her how it helps them. One was a 20-year-old black man who told her that her book had made her reconsider the direction of her life.

Ms Spencer-Darrell was featured on the Magic 102.7 talk show On all fronts ! in March with Lew Simmons, Director of Studies at the Ministry of Education. During the show, author and editor Dale Butler called.

“They discussed how the book got to the heart of what we are going through right now with violence between young black men. So many families need help, so many mothers need help.

Dr. Simmons intends to put a copy of the book in the hands of every graduate student this year and in the future.

“I’m grateful that people find something to learn from this and learn from it,” Ms Spencer-Darrell said. “It’s not just a story for gossip, it’s a story of trauma, healing, learning, understanding and hope.”

Speaking of Jake, who was jailed for six years for manslaughter, she added: “I still have a lot of hope for my brother. His life has never been the same again, he’s living with it.

“I don’t think he forgave himself even though we forgave him. You never know how your journey will end. As long as there is life, there is hope.”

Ms Spencer-Darrell’s first book was a poetry diary Addicted to hash, man not drugs based on a real relationship, published in 2015.

His next book, On the edge of madness is in the making and documents her daughter’s journey of loss.

The book signing is scheduled to take place tomorrow from 6-9pm at The Griot bookshop on Parliament Street, Hamilton, where the book is available for purchase. There will be a Q&A and bar, and Brooklyn Knight will be in attendance.

• Why I Killed My Brother is for sale on Amazonat The Griot and Brown & Company

Lola R. McClure