|Teen, lover laid to rest |
By AZARD ALI and CECILY ASSON Saturday, July 23 2011
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Wife weeps: Patricia Mohammed weeps as she is held by relatives at the funeral of her husband Hydar Mohammed at their home at Kanhai Trace North, Bara...
REHANA NANDLAL, 15, needed a shoulder to cry on when her parents died, but she found solace in the arms of a 52-year-old man who became her lover
.At her funeral service in Barrackpore yesterday, mourners admitted they let down Rehana, who had been a Form Three student of Barrackpore East Secondary School.
Rev Winston Ramkissoon, of the Lower Barrackpore Presbyterian Church, where Rehana worshiped, told mourners: “Rehana’s death is the community’s responsibility, for she was seeking comfort.”
Coincidentally, Hydar Mohammed, who befriended Rehana, was also laid to rest in Barrackpore yesterday.
Rehana and Mohammed committed suicide by drinking poison a day apart and at separate locations, after their relationship became public. Mohammed was a health and safety officer at the school where Rehana was a student.
He killed himself on Wednesday at a cousin’s house in Mayaro. On Tuesday, Rehana was found on the steps of the International Pentecostal Assembly Lighthouse Church, not far from her home at Hassanali North Trace. Mohammed, a father of two, lived two kilometres away at Kanhai Trace.
Mourners attending the funeral service for Rehana, which took place at the family home, spoke of the lonely life the teenager lived.
Her mother died in 2002 and her father passed away on 2006. Rehana lived at the homes of her three older sisters in Central Trinidad, and 18 months ago, she went to live with a fourth sister Tara, at Hassanali North Trace.
A classmate yesterday said Rehana used to cry often in class as she spoke about how she missed her father. Rehana also confided to a church member, Avidesh Sookoo, that she felt an “emptiness” in her life. “She used to look at you with such a sad face,” Sookoo said.
Classmates and villagers said they did not know about Rehana’s relationship with Mohammed. She left him a love note before committing suicide.
Ramkissoon echoed Sookoo’s feelings, when he said: “Children today live in fear. The fear of darkness, but also the fear of being alone. I want to tell the community that we are responsible for Rehana’s fate. We must demonstrate that responsibility by the role we play in people’s lives. Take note of what has transpired here.” Best friend and classmate, Verena Sherry Jacob, moved relatives and mourners to tears when she recalled the last time she spoke to Rehana on the day school closed for vacation.
“I said to her ‘Rehana, you don’t know what it feels like to lose a friend like you. It’s as if you hold a special place in my heart’,” Jacob said. She sobbed: “When these words were spoken, who would have guessed it would come to pass in just a few weeks.”
The funeral service ended with a song which, albeit too late, depicted what Rehana would have wanted in life. “We will talk it over, for I will not question a broken heart,” presiding elder, Kelvin Sookhansingh, sang.
Two kilometres away, a funeral service was held for Mohammed, where Imam Yacoob Ali told mourners not to speak ill of the dead man. “Speak well of the dead and refrain from speaking ill of them. Speak of the good things he did,” Ali said at Mohammed’s home at Kanhai Road, North Barrackpore home. Mohammed had gone to the home of his cousin, Seebaran Lochan, at Oilfield Road, Union Village Mayaro, where he drank poison after Rehana killed herself.
Ali prayed for Mohammed to be forgiven for his sins in “whatever form or whatever way he may have committed them” because “we all have weaknesses.”
Mohammed’s wife Patricia, 48, wept throughout the ceremony and had to be consoled by relatives. The couple were married for 29 years and had two sons.
Also speaking was Br Kassim Hosein who said Mohammed was missed during usual Friday prayers at the Jamaat. He said he (Mohammed) usually did the call to prayer and “when I looked around to my right he was missing.”