Families a year after Paria drownings – ‘Wounds still deeply open’

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Christopher Boodram holds his daughter Ciara near the plaque bearing the names of Fyzal Kurban, Kazim Ali Jr, Rishi Nagassar and Yusuf Henry which was unveiled on Thursday in Couva, two days short of the first anniversary of the death of the men. Boodram was the lone survivor in the Paria drowning tragedy.

TWO days before the anniversary of the Paria diving tragedy, a memorial service was held, and the lone survivor planted five poui trees in remembrance of the four divers who died outside the office of Couva South MP Rudranath Indarsingh.

A commemorative plaque with the names of the four was planted by Christopher Boodram, the lone survivor, and Indarsingh, and unveiled by the dead divers’ families. It bore the message: “They fought for their lives bravely, and today we continue to fighting for them. May their memory and love live on.”

It was clear from the accounts given by family members, which were live-streamed, is that there has been no closure, even after a commission of enquiry (CoE) and accounts of decisions not to rescue the men but recover their bodies.

The divers who died in the Paria tragedy – from left: Kazim Ali, Yuseph Henry, Rishi Nagassar and Fyzal Kurban. –

“My wounds are still deeply open,” Boodram declared at the inter-faith service, where prayers were offered by Imam Nazim Hosein, Swami Prakashananda and Pastor Clive Dottin.

Boodram said it is difficult to accept that a year has already passed since his unfulfilled promise to his colleagues and friends – Fyzal Kurban, Kazim Ali Jr, Yusuf Henry and Rishi Nagassar – that he was coming back for them.The men were trapped in an undersea pipeline while doing maintenance work for Paria Fuel Trading Co Ltd, on February 25, 2022.

“Every day I get up with guilt. Every night I close my eyes, this accident plays over and over. To me it was just yesterday I was in that pipe.

He asserted the importance of the country and people’s standing together to fight what he described as an injustice.

“Only when it reaches your doorstep, you understand how much we need each other. Before this incident, my mentality was ‘me and my own.’”

Agreeing with him was Nicole Greenidge, who introduced herself as the “still grieving mother of Yusuf Henry.” Greenidge and her husband, Joseph Henry, lost their three sons, Marcus, Araghah and Yusuf, within a three-month period. She said Yusuf was the protector of his only sister.

EMOTIONAL: Vanessa Kussie gets emotional while speaking about her husband Rishi Nagassar during the memorial on Thursday for him and the three other divers killed in the Paria drowning tragedy almost one year ago. MARVIN HAMILTON –

“I lost my three sons in three months and only God knows how I am still standing.”

She was bitter in her view of Paria’s handling of the incident.

“Never a decision to rescue our loved ones, but (they) were very quick to make the decision to recover their bodies.

“Today is two days shy of the one-year marking of that painful and horrific day, a day many of us wish never existed. That day when parents lost children, wives lost husbands and children lost fathers, breadwinners, (the) only source of support in some case.”

She spoke of the ongoing struggles to pay bills, buy food, send children to school, transport and medical expenses.

Of their grief she said, “Nothing can prepare us for the goodbye we never thought we would have to say, the loss we never thought we would have to face or the sadness that we never thought we would have to feel.

“We can no longer see our heroes with our eyes, or touch them with our hands, but we will keep their names afloat and their love in our hearts forever.

“I keep the faith that justice will be served.”

Celisha Kurban reflected on how tough the last year has been without her husband. She said Christmas, anniversaries, birthdays are no longer the same, but the families are taking life one day at a time by God’s grace.

The incident has brought family and friends close to those who share the tragedy.

Vanessa Kussie shared the love story of her meeting with Rishi Nagassar, her common-law-husband, and the 13 years spent together .

What is more painful, she said is that she not only lost her husband, but their only son, Nashikk, who, tired of waiting for his father to return from work, has found solace in the arms and home of her sister and brother-in-law.

Their son, who will turn four on April 4, no longer wants to stay at home. She said with tears in her eyes, “He calls them mom and daddy. He feels love at their home, not at mine. Paria, this is some of the hurt and pain you put us through.”