Two years after her husband, son and brother were brutally murdered Indrawattie Rooplall is still struggling to provide for her family and her biggest challenge is ensuring that her children complete their secondary education.
Rooplall is not one to sit down and wait for help. After the breadwinner of her family was brutally murdered, she gained employment as a security guard. But the night shifts meant that she was away from her children for long hours. The sweeper/cleaner job she took next, saw her not being paid for months and she now grows cash crops in her backyard.
But her efforts have not been enough and she is seeking assistance with the textbooks her children need to complete their schooling. One of her sons, who was on the fatal trip with his father but was left behind at some point, has dropped out of school; he is 15 years old. She does not want the same for the others.
Rooplall, also known as ‘Pam’, 38, shared her story with the Sunday Stabroek. She is doing all she can, but needs assistance so that her children can stay in school and complete their secondary education.
After a murder, the family unit undergoes permanent changes that are difficult for the surviving members to accept, but Rooplall has been trying to do just that with minimal or no help from anyone.
Her husband, Pawan Chandradeo, who was a rice farmer and 37 years old at the time; their son, Jaikarran Chandradeo, then 15 and her brother Naresh Rooplall, 33, of Number 75 Village, Corentyne were found dead less than a day after they had left to go on a fishing trip in Black Bush Polder back in July, 2016.
The three were found with one gunshot wound each at Kokerite Savannah, Mibicuri Creek. Post-mortem examinations revealed that Pawan Chandradeo had sustained a laceration to his head resulting in a fractured skull and he subsequently died of shock and haemorrhaging. Jaikarran Chandradeo, 15, and Naresh Rooplall, 33, had also died of shock and haemorrhaging.
Chandradeo’s wife, who is still very emotional over the brutal killings of her loved ones, explained that her son who dropped out of school is attending a workshop where he is learning a trade. While she would have wanted him to complete his secondary education, she believes at this time this is the best for him.
The then 13-year-old was also on the fishing trip when his father, brother and uncle were killed. However, on that tragic night, his father had left him at a camp with a security guard, who was guarding a koker, while the trio went further ahead to fish, this decision saved his life.
But while he is alive, his mother said, he has not done much living, as he would hardly speak to anyone. “In school he did miss a lot of things and he a lost out and them teachers say he always a stare into space,” she said.
She noted that dropping out of school a few months back may have been a blessing in disguise emotionally for him as “since he going to the workshop the people start talk with he, he becoming more open now. He start talk about the night and he talking more now”.
She added, “When this thing been happen, people been promise to come and counsel him and them been say me too need counselling, none never come back. He never really talk about the thing.”
This has been the cry of many persons who witnessed violent crimes or were violently attacked. Counselling is not easily accessible, not even for children who would have witnessed their parents murders.
And for Rooplall and her family the promise of counselling was not the only one not kept. She said that both government and regional officials had promised to assist her with sending her children to school. This has not been the reality.
At one time Rooplall was employed with a private security firm and was stationed at the Mibicuri Hospital. However, she left her job late last year after she was placed on the night shift. “Me been frighten because to leave the children home alone that na safe and then when me walk over the bridge the family [of the accused] live right there so me frighten more,” she explained. “Me been try the night shift, you know, me father does bring them children to collect me but them children start to frighten and them frighten to stay home alone so me couldn’t do anything, so me lef.”
However, at that time with three children in high school, the single parent needed an income and fast. As such, she started to do a sweeper/cleaner job at a school in Black Bush Polder. But this was not very fruitful, as the woman explained she worked and received her payment six months later.
She then quit that job and started to plant in her backyard, which she is still doing at present. She planted peppers and started to sell in order to ensure her children remain in school. But she is finding it very difficult to provide them with the school books they need. “My son [a 14-year-old] doing well in school. He a top he class in Maths and he need a textbook and me can’t afford to buy it for he,” she said. “Me daughter too need some textbooks and me can’t buy it yet for she.”
The woman said her children would have been absent several days in the last school term because she was unable to provide them with money for transportation to get to school.
This newspaper has since reached out to Pandit Suresh Sugrim, President of the Humanitarian Mission of New Jersey and his organisation has donated two texts book to the children. He is also discussing job opportunities with Rooplall, whom he said obviously wants to work. The Pandit also lamented the fact that the family has received no cousnelling.
Meanwhile, the three younger children have become victims of bullying. She said their peers would often trouble them and make jokes of the situation. She related that when her 15-year-old son still attended school, “… One girl use to tell he how he make newspaper and one set a things and he did fight and argue. Two times me had to go in school because he a get passion quick. And me daughter people does always watch and tell she things. Me does tell them don’t worry with nobody just take in you education.”
Rooplall told this publication that she is remaining strong for her children. She explained that she would often have dark thoughts about ending her life but she thinks about her children.
Additionally, she is trying to attend court as often as she can afford to, so as to ensure that justice is served.
A preliminary inquiry is currently ongoing before Magistrate Charlyn Artiga in the Whim Magistrate Court.
Rooplall explained that at a recent hearing she was asked to leave the courtroom as a police officer was about to give evidence. “I sit every time in the courtroom. I hear every evidence. I don’t know why this time they ask me to leave without explaining anything,” she said. “I went to some police and no one couldn’t tell me why, them police pon the step start holler pon me. I went to the court clerks and no one couldn’t say. They told me to wait when court done they will find out. I wait till 4 [pm] and nothing and then I decide to leave. I really want justice for my family.”
The matter is expected to continue tomorrow.
Indrawattie Rooplall can be contacted on telephone number 694-0386.