It has been almost a year since that brutal attack that took her daughter’s life and left her with a lasting injury on her left hand, and Bibi Shameela’s constant wish is that she could turn back time and offer more protection to her daughter who had fled an abusive husband.
She is determined to keep Bibi Shareema’s three sons together, even though every day is a struggle to provide for the two, five, and six-year-old children. It is not just the financial struggle the grandmother has to grapple with but also the emotional in securing the well-being of the children.
“Nuff night the two big one would get up and start fuh cry and ask when dem mother coming back and sometimes me and all does cry, it really hard,” the woman told the Sunday Stabroek in a recent interview.
The woman said the children received no counselling from the state nor has the state provided any financial assistance to the family.
“I went to the welfare office at Vreed-en-Hoop only this year and dem tell me have deh have to get a letter from the school dem children going to…before I could get any help,” the woman related to this newspaper.
The woman only approached the state agency this year as she was afraid attempts might be made to take the children away. “I don’t want dem get separate, you know. I want them to grow up together but we need some help,” she admitted.
“And I would glad fuh dem to get some counselling because dem does feel you know and sometimes me nah know how to deal with it. I does cry to sometimes.”
She is unsure of the step that needs to be taken for the children to receive counselling but pointed out that her daughter’s murder was in all of the newspapers yet no one from the state sought out the children to even ensure that good care was being given to them. The woman made it clear that she wanted no “trouble” but rather was just seeking some help.
“To tell you the truth it is difficult because with me hand I really can’t work and we not getting any help from nobody. Right now is just me daughter and me husband working,” the 50-year-old grandmother said.
The daughter she speaks about is just 16 years old, but she was forced to leave school and seek a job, which she finally gained as a salesgirl, in an effort to assist the family following her sister’s death, which saw three additional mouths to feed.
“Me daughter deh want follow up she education because she always want to be a teacher but now she working and as a mother is nah easy fuh see me child give up on she education but is really hard fuh we. What we guh do?” the woman asked, not expecting an answer.
Her husband works as a security guard, but Bibi noted that he is not well and the additional strain on the family has not made things easier.
“And then I can’t really help out, me daughter does get up early in deh morning and does help do work before she go to work, a does try but with me hand ah can’t put too much pressure on it,” the woman lamented.
Her life changed on August 3, 2016 when her 26-year-old daughter’s then estranged husband crept into the family’s Greenwich Park, East Bank Essequibo (EBE) home and attacked her. Shameela ran to her daughter’s rescue and was also attacked.
Forty-four days later on October 15, 2016 Bibi Shareema died at the Georgetown Public Hospital, where she had been in a vegetative state from the time she was admitted. Shareema had sustained injuries to the region of her heart and lungs. She had also sustained open wounds to her wrist and elbow, as well as to her leg. Shameela was chopped about her hand.
Their assailant, Shareema’s husband Bhawanie Harrinarine, known as ‘Moon,’ a fisherman of Parika, EBE, had consumed a poisonous substance and died a few days later at the West Demerara Regional Hospital.
The woman said she tries not to think about that night when she heard her daughter’s screams but sometimes she can’t help but ask herself if there was more she could have done to help save her daughter.
She herself was hospitalized for two weeks following the attack by the man who had removed louvre panes from the family’s house to gain access.
Shareema’s marriage to the man was her second attempt at love as her first marriage ended also because of abuse. She had moved back to her parents’ home with her two sons and sought a job. She later met Harrinarine and moved in with him at his family’s home at Parika but the abuse started. Eventually her parents removed her from the home; the man followed her and moved in as well but the abuse continued.
“He use to drink out all the money when he come from sea and even when he give she money and she buy ration he use to cuss she up and tek it back and give he family,” the woman recalled.
She was pregnant with her third son when the man finally moved out of the house. He contributed sporadically to the baby’s upkeep and the child had turned two years old just days before he broke into the family’s home and launched the murderous attack.
“He always use to tell she dat if he can’t get she nobody can’t get she…,” the woman recalled.
Her daughter worked very hard to maintain her sons, the mother stated.
“She use to work and help to take care of she children and dem use to go to school every day,” the woman recalled. She worked as a domestic and the mother said she did the same to supplement her husband’s security guard salary. But now she is unable to help.
She recalled that Shareema’s wish was to work and finally get a home for herself and sons and to ensure that they attended school and “be somebody when dem grow up. I want de same fuh dem to, and dah is why I don’t want them separate. I want them together because dem done ain’t get mother.”
Recounting her daughter’s last days in the hospital, Shameela recalled that after she was discharged from the hospital she was forced to recuperate at her mother’s Parika home but as soon as she started to feel better she visited her child in the hospital every day even though she was on medication at the time.
In between visiting hours, she would “lie down on a bench in front of the hospital.”
Sometimes she would be extremely tired and would “feel weak and see dark,” but that did not stop her from going to care for her daughter.
She could not turn her to clean her and depended on her husband to help her through this process.
By the time Shareema died, the everyday hospital visits had taken a toll on her and she almost collapsed. She had been at breaking point, but was still willing to continue to take care of her daughter and it was hard for her to come to grips with the reality that she had died.
For a long time afterward, she would mistakenly call Shareema’s name, when she wanted her youngest daughter.
In a few months’ time it would be a year since she lost one of her three daughters and Bibi Shameela knows that she will never get over it.