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Pastor cools tempers

By Cecily Asson Saturday, January 18 2014

click on pic to zoom in
Riaz Karim...
Riaz Karim...

THE PUNDIT officiating yesterday at the funeral service of schoolteacher Avianna “Lisa” Ramraj-Karim, 24, had to quickly step in to restore peace when grieving members of the Ramraj and Karim families began “throwing words” at each other over circumstances surrounding her sudden death on Monday.

Ramraj-Karim collapsed at home in Banwarie Trace Extension, San Francique, Penal after suffering what relatives believed to be a seizure and was rushed to a private medical facility at about 8 am where she died. Shortly after her death, her husband COSTAATT lecturer Riaz Karim, 34, was found at her bedside vomitting and was taken to San Fernando General Hospital where he was treated and warded. Upon her death, he told relatives he too wanted to die as he couldn’t live without his wife.

To date, the cause of Ramraj-Karim’s death remains unknown as an autopsy on Tuesday at the Forensic Science Centre by pathologist Dr Hughvon Des Vignes returned inconclusive. Investigators now await a toxicology report to determine cause of death. .

At the funeral yesterday, Riaz dressed in the white suit he wore on their wedding day four months ago, sat next to her casket. He got up and walked out on the eulogy which was being read by his brother-in-law Shivan Ramraj, also a teacher. Family members also followed him outside causing quite a stir among hundreds of mourners gathered under the large white tents at the family’s home at Hermitage Village, San Fernando.

It all started when Shivan decided to include in the eulogy, the impassioned speech he delivered on the day Riaz wed his sister. He read verbatim the things he asked of Riaz on the big day, before accepting him into the family. He said Riaz made a promise to “never hurt her but instead be her protector.”

“Promise me Riaz, (I had to talk to him because he wasn’t listening) that I am leaving her in good hands and her new home would be her paradise,” Shivan repeated what he said. “He came up here and he said ‘I sign to that contract’.I want you all to ask him that question today.”

The question caused even more murmurs and prompted an immediate question from one of Riaz’s female relative. She shouted, “What did he (Riaz) do wrong? It is not like he killed your sister. What did he do wrong?” she repeated. “Look he want to kill himself for your sister.”

In the eulogy, Shivan said his sister was a “healthy, organised woman who never complained.”

As he called for calm, Pundit Vishnudath Maharaj referred to the situation as “the bitterness and attachment of love.”

After some quiet was restored, Maharaj said whatever happened should not be taken wrongly as persons were in grief.

“To lose a loved one is a lot, it is important to vent what is inside, it is important to sift things don’t allow it to penetrate and create indifference and hatred and doubts in your mind for any reason. It is all part of life.”

Except for a rose he placed in her casket, Riaz who sat quietly weeping among his in-laws did not take part in the final rituals performed under Hindu rites. Other close relatives performed arti. He journeyed to the Shore of Peace, Mosquito Creek La Romine and watched from on the side as final rites were performed and her body cremated.

Riaz was discharged from the San Fernando General Hospital in time for yesterday’s funeral. A former nurse, Riaz was surrounded by several of his colleagues from COSTAATT and members of the nursing fraternity. Ramraj-Karim taught at Parvati Girls High School in Debe and students who were present sang bhajans and offered prayers for her. Speaking to Newsday, a male relative said Riaz will go into counselling today.

“He’s okay and we are here for him,” he told Newsday

“It was not nice how things went today (yesterday) but we did the best thing and walked out. He is already in a depressed state and hearing those things would not help him.”

He also told Newsday that on Monday Riaz would also return to hospital for a review of his condition.

Investigations meanwhile continue into the incident.

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