When Nadira Lall’s four children drove out of her yard at Barnwell, East Bank Essequibo (EBE) on Sunday October 8, 2006 she never realized that three of them would never make it back alive.
Lall, 46, and her husband, Richard ‘Ricky’ Lall were relaxing at home when they received the shocking news that their children, Sheena, 19; Romel, 18; Mark, 12, and Michael, 11 were involved in an accident.
Mark, now 24, survived the horrific crash that occurred around 7:30 pm at Philadelphia, EBE, close to their home.
The news was any mother’s worse nightmare and it has changed her life forever. Though she is trying hard to cope, the memories are still fresh on her mind and she would still cry for them daily.
“A day don’t pass without me missing them,” she said. But she would be especially sad on special occasions like Mother’s Day, birthdays and at Christmas time.
A staunch Christian, she told this newspaper: “I passed through a lot… But it’s only my strong faith in God and prayers are keeping me going.” She also spoke about having a tough marriage life in the beginning.
Two years ago, Lall also lost her husband, Richard, 49, when he suffered a heart attack. She felt he may have developed a severe heart condition after the children’s death. He too was never the same after that.
Tragedy struck when Romel, her eldest son who was driving the car apparently lost control. The car toppled several times before turning turtle on the dam on the other side of the road.
He was at the time returning home with his three siblings after dropping their cousins off at Vergenoegen, EBE two villages away.
They were rushed to the West Demerara Regional Hospital where Sheena later died. The boys were referred to the Georgetown Public Hospital (GPHC). They were all unconscious.
No one knows for sure what exactly happened on that fateful day that caused the fatal crash. Mark, who suffered injuries to his head, neck and foot, cannot remember anything leading up to the accident.
He regained consciousness around 4:30 the next morning (October 9th) in the High Dependency Unit and kept looking around baffled and asked his mother how he ended up there.
She told him that he and his siblings were involved in an accident but she did not tell him that his sister was dead.
His brothers who were in the Intensive Care Unit never regained consciousness. Michael, who sustained internal injuries and had a “hole at the back of his head,” died around 1 pm on Tuesday October 10th.
Lall recalled that she was in the ward with Mark when she saw her husband coming towards her crying.
After he gave her the sad news, she got down on her knees and “I asked God, ‘why me’? And I begged Him not to take my two other sons or at least leave one alive for me.”
She and her husband were at home when the hospital called around 4:30 am on Wednesday October 11th to say that Romel had died.
Despite Romel’s condition, the news was devastating for the parents who were already grieving the loss of the other two children.
Romel suffered head and spinal injuries and his head was swollen to “more than twice the size. If he de live I don’t think he woulda been able to walk,” Lall told this newspaper.
She kept praying to God to spare Mark’s life. He has recovered successfully except that he would suffer severe headaches at times. He attended a private school after his recovery but was forced to quit early due to the headaches.
He believes it is as a result of the accident and plans to have another CT-scan done to dispel his fears of a relapse.
Mark learnt the mechanical and welding trade from his father and has been using his skills at a workshop in their yard to earn an income.
He too is still finding it hard to cope with the deaths of his siblings and his wife would console him.
Mark and Alliah and their four-year-old daughter are sharing Lall’s home. According to her, they have brought a lot of comfort to her while her granddaughter is “cheering me up” and keeping her somewhat distracted from her distress.
Recounting the ordeal, Lall said the man who went to her house to inform her about the accident tried to play it down.
But when she arrived at the scene and saw the badly mangled car, she feared the worse. Her children were already taken to the hospital.
In a deep state of shock she did not know how to react, even when a woman held her hand and told her “you have no more children left!”
She remembered asking someone for water to drink but left for the hospital before the person returned with the water.
At the emergency room, the nurses told her she could not go in to see her children. They gave her the jewellery, cell phones and other items belonging to her children and told her to sign in a book.
Upon her persistence, Lall was allowed to enter the room that her daughter was in. She saw her lying motionless and knew instantly that the girl was dead.
The distraught woman went back quietly into the waiting area and sat next to her husband, not knowing how to break the sad news to him because he was “diabetic.”
He only learnt that his daughter was dead when he asked to go see her. They were not able to see the boys because the hospital was preparing them for transfer to the GPHC.
Lall recalled that relatives from overseas were making arrangements to travel for her daughter’s funeral the following Saturday when they got the news of the other two deaths.
“I never expected that I would be burying three of my children on the same day. That was the worse day for me, seeing three hearse and three caskets in my yard,” Lall said as she choked back her tears.
She remembered that the funeral was “very big” and that the police had to be there, controlling the traffic.
It took Lall a while to start overcoming her children’s deaths. For the first few months after they were laid to rest she would lock herself in their rooms and “play with their clothes and cry.”
She also used to “walk in the hot sun every day when I finish my work and go to Vergenoegen and sit on their tombs and cry.”
She did this for a few months as well and felt that it gave her inner peace. “The first day when I was leaving the house my husband asked me where I was going. I told him ‘ah going to visit my children’”.
She spent about two and a half hours each time and when she was satisfied she would return in time for when Mark got home from school.
Lall also reminisced on the quality time she and her family spent together. “We used to sit and eat dinner together and after that [their deaths] I just felt like running from the house.”
Dinner times after that would be boring. She and her husband and Mark would just sit there and stare at each other and say nothing.
The woman also said that during the August holidays they used to go on “family trips” to the creeks and to Essequibo and other places.
It took them a while before they start going on trips again. Even though Lall is trying to indulge a little bit more now, one thing is for sure; life will never be the same again.