TREMBLING as she approached the closed coffin of her only son Shiva "Arie" Ramdeo, Nazeema Ramdeo gazed at and lovingly stroked a photo before placing a red rose on top of the coffin. She then turned around and collapsed into the arms of relatives gathered for her son's funeral on Sunday.
The 49-year-old mother of two then sat near her son's coffin and alternated between deep sobs and dazed silence, her sorrow echoed by other residents of Lalla Street Extension in Orange Valley as many came to pay final respects to Ramdeo. A week ago, Ramdeo and several other fishermen were attacked by pirates in the sea off Carli Bay and ordered to jump into the water as the pirates stole two pirogues.
Even as Ramdeo was saying a final farewell to her son, villagers in nearby Waterloo Road were themselves attending the funeral of another of the fishermen, Anand "Beula" Rampersad, 39. In all, four bodies have washed ashore and three other fishermen are still at sea, presumed drowned.
Pundit Narine Persad of the Orange Valley Vishnu Mandir, said too many criminals are roaming the country with law-abiding citizens defenceless and like sitting ducks waiting to be slaughtered. Referring to himself as Ramdeo’s godfather and guru, the pundit called for people to be more humane, saying the attack on the fishermen had darkened the entire community of Orange Valley.
"They have not only killed this woman's son, but they have also killed the spirit of this entire village. The landscape of this village in terms of lifestyle will certainly change. There is too much destruction. Criminals are armed and have very very destructive weapons," the pundit said. He urged the nation to turn towards spirituality instead of the gun.
"Prayers can turn things around. But even as we pray, those in authority must address this crime situation. We all have to change our mode of thinking, we all have to be more humane." A mourner said Ramdeo and her children shared a special relationship.
"No one can take Arie's place in my children’s heart, in my heart and my husband’s heart. Arie was one of a kind, he was an exceptional person. He was like my big son. We love you and will never ever forget you," the mourner said.
Another woman said Ramdeo loved being a fisherman and she called on mourners to remember him for all the sacrifices he made as she called for everyone and pray for his eternal peace.
Some mourners, who knew relatives of both fishermen, were back and forth at both funerals. Rampersad’s body was earlier taken to his family’s home at Korea Village for viewing. There was a brief street procession in the rain and villagers played tassa as music blasted from a truck.
Villagers placed banners on the streets in honour of the murdered fishermen. "We the people of Orange Valley, Couva and environs salute you comrade," a banner read. Another stated: "You have fought the good fight. Good over evil. You have run the race. You have kept the faith but gone too soon." Both Ramdeo and Rampersad were later cremated at the Waterloo Cremation site.
The funeral of Brandon "Curry" Kissoon, is expected to take place today at the family’s home in Mc Bean Village. Orange Valley residents said did not know when the funeral of Leslie De Boulet would take place as he lived at Carapichaima and worked at Carli Bay.
The search continues for Kissoon’s cousin Justin Kissoon, 19, Alex Sooknanan, 18, and Jason Baptiste,30. At least six other fishermen are said to have survived the attack.