NEWS

Highlands Tragedy: Sisters Begin To Find Strength

Heartbroken Geeta and Sangeeta said it was an unforgettable time because they had bid a sorrowful final goodbye to their parents, Nirmal Kumar and Usha, who were cremated in Nadi the day before, Saturday.
02 Sep 2019 10:42
Highlands Tragedy: Sisters Begin To Find Strength
Geeta Kumar Chand (middle), with daughter, Rashna Chand and grandmother, Bhijba Wati at their home in Legalega in Nadi. Photo: Mereleki Nai

Legalega, Nadi, sisters, Geeta Kumar Chand and Sangeeta Kumar, were still heavy with grief yesterday.

However, they were slowly gaining their strength back as families across the nation marked Father’s Day.

Heartbroken Geeta and Sangeeta said it was an unforgettable time because they had bid a sorrowful final goodbye to their parents, Nirmal Kumar and Usha, who were cremated in Nadi the day before, Saturday.

The bodies of Mr and Mrs Kumar along with another daughter Nileshni and their two granddaughters Sana, 11, Samarah, 8, were discovered at the Nausori Highlands last Monday.

At the family home in Legalega, Nadi, yesterday, the distraught sisters in mourning managed to break their silence after they held a pooja (prayer).

The younger of the Kumar siblings, Ms Chand said it was difficult absorbing that pain and sense of losing a father whom she felt closely attached to.

“There is so much pain that I am trying hard to peacefully endure these few days and today was the most painful one because it is a Father’s Day,” she said.

“As the youngest of the three siblings, I felt the most love from both of my parents.

“Even though I am married and live separately with my family, my husband understands the strong attachment I have with my parents.

“Almost every day we call or visit each other and my kids always want to spend their holidays with their grandparents.

“I really miss my dad. He was the best father I ever had,” said tearful Ms Chand.

Sangeeta Kumar, the mother of the ‘Miracle Baby’, shared similar sentiments.

“It was the saddest Father’s Day of my life. I miss my parents. My dad came to visit me in Australia and I kept on telling him to come and just stay back for a while.

“We are a very close-knitted family and even though I live overseas I always call them every day.

“Dad brought us up that way. Wherever he goes he always took us with him.

“He was a caring and a loving father and was there for us when we needed him,” she added.

Ronita Kumar with her two daughters, Ryna (left) and Alyna. Photo: Mereleki Nai

Ronita Kumar with her two daughters, Ryna (left) and Alyna. Photo: Mereleki Nai

Friend recalls last conversation

The late Nileshni Kumar’s best friend, Ronita Kumar, recalled the last conversation they had.

The mother of two children shared that her close bond with the late Nileshni started when both their daughters attended the same pre-school and primary school.

“I have two daughters who are the same age with Nileshni’s daughters. My eldest daughter went to the same pre-school and primary school with the victim, Sana, and that is when I knew her mother.

“They became close friends and were together almost every second day.

“Before we pick our daughters from school in the afternoon, we used to meet in town,” Ms Kumar said.

“Two months ago, Nileshni was telling me that her uncle from New Zealand whom she said was close to the family would lodge their visa and the whole family would be going to New Zealand.

“She said her uncle will come in August (last month) to lodge all the papers with immigration.

“They were planning to sell their items before they go. The plan was to leave the country this month, September,” she said.

“Our last meeting was on August 24 when she came with her two children to meet their father.”

Ms Kumar first got wind of the tragic news when her eldest daughter came and told her that the two girls, Sana and Samarah were missing from school.

“This was unusual to us because they don’t miss any school day and also on that particular afternoon a friend called and told her that bodies were found at Nausori Highland and a toddler was found alive,” she said.

“I miss my friend and her family because most of the time we used to go to their place and my husband would have a basin of yaqona with the family at Legalega,” she added.

Family want justice

Also at the pooja yesterday, Rajesh Kumar, the late Nirmal’s brother, said: “I want a hundred per cent justice as soon as possible.

“Why forgive? My whole family will not forgive the ones who did this to my brother’s family.”

Edited by Percy Kean

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