On Valentine’s Day last year, Brandon Kissoon, one of the seven fishermen who died in an attack in the Gulf of Paria last July, visited his mother, Runa Ali, at San Fernando General Hospital with a purple rose.
“I was hospitalised for stress-related illnesses and Brandon came and gave me the rose and encouraged me to get back up on my feet. He told me to break out on my own and work for myself and become independent. Up until then he and I were working for a close relative who was a fisherman,” Ali related to the Express yesterday.
The memory of her son’s visit to the hospital came back to Ali at her workplace yesterday as she wept quietly.
She said this Valentine’s Day, being celebrated worldwide today, will be particularly sad for her.
“I cry every single day for my son,” she told the Express.
Ali said she got a clear dream about the incident before it happened and had begged him not to go out to sea.
“I told him they are going to rob you. He said, ‘ma, don’t worry. I not leaving you and going nowhere’.”
She said after she was discharged from hospital, she took her son’s advice and worked in various places to earn an income.
Kissoon, the eldest of her three children, was thrown overboard in an attack in the Gulf of Paria between Orange Valley and Carli Bay. He was 21.
His body washed ashore a couple days later and he was cremated soon after.
Ali, a single mother of two other children, 17 and 14, said Kissoon was the family’s strength.
“Nobody in the world could separate me and Brandon. He was always at my side and acted like a father to the children. When my son graduated, he attended as his father.”
Kissoon would have turned 22 on February 3 and the family celebrated his birthday in his absence.
“His cousin made a beautiful cake with Brandon’s picture on it,” the weeping mother said.
Ali said her grief is double since the body of her nephew, Justin Kissoon, one of the seven who were attacked, has never been recovered.
“Justin stayed by me for three months before the incident. People said I would go crazy after my son died and I felt like that. Nobody knows what I go through,” Ali said.
The body of Jason Baptiste was also never found. The other five — Leslie Deboulet, Anand Rampersad, Shiva Ramdeo, Trevor Baptiste and a man known only as Alex — washed ashore and final rites were performed for them.
Ali said she and her children have never eaten fish since the tragedy.
“We used to eat fish every day. Now, no one wants to see fish.”
She said all kinds of rumours have been circulating about the murder of the fishermen, including that it was drug-related.
She said her son worked hard “from small” to take care of his needs.
“He worked with his father who was a fisherman when he was going to school and with the pay he got he would buy his uniform. He continued to work with his father until he broke away and was working for someone else until the time he was killed,” she said.