FEATURE: Life And Times Of Navneeta Devi

Navneeta Devi was the darling of the family, a princess who gave her parents joy and hope. Navneeta was born as a bouncing 2.45kb baby at the Lautoka Hospital on
06 Apr 2015 11:29
FEATURE: Life And Times Of Navneeta Devi
From left: Ron Dee, Prem Lata, Narendra Chand and Rohini Devi at their home in Teidamu in Lautoka last week. Photo: Waisea Nasokia

Navneeta Devi was the darling of the family, a princess who gave her parents joy and hope.

Navneeta was born as a bouncing 2.45kb baby at the Lautoka Hospital on December 5, 1996.

It was also at the same hospital that she lost her life because of self-inflicted severe burns. The Jasper Williams High School student poured kerosene over her body and set herself alight.

Her parents claimed a school teacher drover her over the edge because she exposed Navneeta’s phone text message to others after confiscating it. The teacher has been suspended pending investigations by the Police and Ministry of Education.

Navneeta was a free spirit. It did not mean she was out of control. In fact her peers said she was a cheerful and happy person who meant no harm to anyone.

Being the only child in the family, she could have been easily labelled as a spoilt brat.

But she was a humble person who loved everyone.

Her father, Narendra Chand and mother, Rohini Devi, adored her but they did not spoil her.

Navneeta Devi was delivered bv Caesarean and was kept in hospital for six days. Mr Chand recollects spending the six days and nights at the hospital.

After her discharge from the hospital she was taken to Teidamu, in Lautoka.

This is the home of her paternal grandmother. Baby Navneeta’s arrival was greeted with fanfare. She brought smiles to everyone especially “the old lady”, her paternal grandmother.

Then it was time for the traditional rituals.

Navneeta was taken to Nukuloa in Ba, where her maternal grandparents lived.

During her three weeks there, she received daily massages from her grandmother. The massages were designed to strengthen her body.

At the end of three weeks she was returned to Teidamu.

“We were very happy that a daughter was born in the family as she was the ‘laxmi’ of the house who brought light and joy,” said Mr Chand.

Sugarcane farmer Mr Chand would always look forward to going home at the end of a hard’s day’s work.

Navneeta started to take her first steps at 18 months.

She grew up in the first five years with her grandmother, an aunt and two cousins.

She never liked the cot nor the walker but preferred the big bed.

She was always playing on the bed. Like other ordinary children, she loved dolls and toy tea sets

Her first birthday was a big celebration organised by her maternal grandparents. Her family members say she is the most photogenic person in the house who loved to dress up and parade and pose for selfies.

Her photo albums tell the story of her life. She loved photos and fashion. They made her smile all the time.

Navneeta spent one and a half years at Saint Anthony’s Kindergarten Lautoka and then went into Jasper Williams Kindergarten.

She went to Jasper Primary from class 1 till class 8 and enjoyed going to school. She hardly missed school.

Her parents never received a complaint about her from school. It said a lot about her character. She was obedient.

While she enjoyed life, Navneeta was not really into sports. But she preferred singing and dancing.

She was an average student but she put everything into what she did. She passed her exams. She wanted to become an accountant. But before she died she confided with her friends that she would accept whatever job she was offered to take care of her parents.

Navneeta never complained about her friends, teachers or about the school to her parents or family.

She loved cooking and baking and she had learned to cook many dishes by the time she had turned nine.

Navneeta would get up in the early hours of the morning and cook food whenever her mother was ill.

In high-school the parents also never received a single complaint about her till March 20th 2015. That was when the teacher in question confiscated her mobile phone at a schools athletics meet. Her parents had given her permission. At any rate, other students were also carrying mobile phones the same day.

She was keen to do further studies overseas. She even got her passport ready so that she could go to her aunt in Liverpool, Australia, and do her further studies there.

Navneeta studied Accounting, Economics and Computer along with the basic subjects Maths and English.

For the past two years she was also under-taking a classes that the school was running under the Fiji National University.

This was her third year in the program of bakery and pastry and she was to complete that program by year end.

She enjoyed her baking classes and would randomly bake tasty cakes at her home and to feed her parents.

She used to tell her mother, “You are my mother and my friend.” She was never ashamed to say it in front of others.

During her school break, Navneeta would travel to Ba to spend time with her family from her mother’s side. She was well mannered and never spoke back to her parents.

She had a very soft heart because she cared and loved everyone.”

Families loved her presence and her parents can never forget how much love she had given to them over time.

Her cousin brothers found her very pleasant.

One of them said: “She always took care of us; she was always funny and would never be angry on us during our stay in her home.”

She never discriminated cultures and took part in cultural activities at school.

She had an open door policy on religion. Although she was a Hindu, she attended other churches because she believed in God. Her mother would not stop her, recognising the sanctity of her choice.

She was taught to respect all religions. And that what she did.

When her dad was late from work, she would pray for him and would read the ‘hanuman chalisa’ (Hindu prayer book).

Navneeta also had a great interest in drawing and her last drawing was of Lord Shiva which she did in preparation for Ram Naumi.

With her love for soft toys, she had her favourite one, a teddy bear which she always slept with and felt quite attached to.

Her grandmother who had bought this teddy bear for her when she was little had stayed with her at times.

Navneeta enjoyed watching Bollywood movies especially those of Kareena Kapoor because she liked the dancing.

A close friend said Navneeta was always mindful of her parents’ financial hardship and would always save her pocket expenses to give them back to her mother.

She describes her as an honest friend who could be trusted at all times.

“We used to travel together and that is how we came to know each other well from primary school.

“We had some great fun moments together in the school years where we would not stop laughing.”

Navneeta was nicknamed Pinky during her childhood by her parents. It symbolised peace to them.



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