An Enmore, East Coast Demerara grandmother burned to death in her home during the wee hours of yesterday as her children and neighbours stood helplessly as the blaze ripped through the mostly wooden structure.
Dead is Bhagmatie John, 68, of Hope Street who lived alone in the small two-storey structure.
Her daughter, Lilawattie John, who lives a short distance away from her mother, told Stabroek News that the home has been without electricity since its construction over 45 years ago and her mother never chose to have power installed. As such she said that at nights they would use a rechargeable battery or kerosene lamp.
She explained that her mother had an eye impairment as she had glaucoma and cataract. She had undergone surgery and had lenses implanted in her eyes.
Lilawattie believes that her mother awoke during the morning hours and tipped the lamp accidentally, which may have caused the fire.
“I left her around 7’o clock time after I done clean she up and give her tea and so. I didn’t put plenty kero in the lamp, just lil bit and ah light the lamp and leave it. I put she water in the cup and leave it where she can reach. Maybe she wake up and was feeling for the water and went to get the lamp and fall down,” she said.
“Maybe she fainted away too because she is also diabetic and she wasn’t feeling too good recently. But you know this thing bother me because it’s not like we been leaving she alone last week or last month, it’s years we do the same same thing over and over. Me born and grow here without electric(ity). We clean she up, light the lamp leave the water so like this whole thing get me thinking,” she added.
A neighbour of the pensioner related that around 2am he was awakened from his sleep by the strong smell of smoke and when he jumped out his bed saw “Granny’s”, as she was fondly called, home on fire.
He said that other neighbours were alerted and the woman’s daughter, who lives at the end of the street and her family, rushed to the scene but the blazing fire coupled with the heat that emanated from the building held everyone at bay.
Bhagmatie John was described by her grandson Vinesh as a selfless and giving woman who loved her entire family.
He informed that she had five children, four girls and one boy and over 25 grandchildren who she was fond of.
“She was a hard worker and like to farm. She had her bajee (calaloo) and bigan (eggplant) and bora she used to plant up. She couldn’t see good but didn’t like grass in she place so she always cleaning up. She would go outside and clean that drain she self,” he reminisced.
He said that he would sometimes sleep at his grandmother’s house but she does not like persons to be in and out of her home late at nights so he told his girlfriend they would not bother to stay there Saturday night. A decision he said that he now regrets as he feels if he was with her he would have been awakened by the smoke.
“It is just real sad and I taking it on that a person so nice like my grandmother would die like this. I can say all the things me wish but nothing will bring she back. She took care of me since I small and I love her I can’t tell you how much I love she and think this was a real cruel way for she to dead,” he said.