A venomous curve in life
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I HAVE never written about my siblings in any serious form or fashion. I am doing so now because I feel I must, since I have delayed writing this column for over six months for two reasons. I am unable to bring myself to write it because the bereavement is too overwhelming. I also want to write this column in the home I grew up in along the Corentyne coast because it will bring back the vistas of freedom I experienced.

Purnanand Roopnarine aka Paro

I am here now, and it is around midnight. There is an eerie silence interrupted sporadically by sounds of whistling winds through the half-open windows that lift the curtains to the ceiling and then drop it back gracefully onto the windowsill. The continuous rhythm of the curtains seems to have captured my state of my mind.

There is something in the air I suppose as I sit here on a wooden desk and chair all alone locked in a gaze thinking, what I could possibly write about a brother who was also raised in the same house as I was. Our room that we slept in is just a few yards away staring at me like an abandoned vessel. Silence, they say, is not a friend of the faint hearted.

Suddenly, I snapped out of my mental slumber thinking the morning will be here soon and I must send out the column to the press, and more importantly, there is a Hindu religious ritual for my brother at 9:00 hrs; the main reason why I am here. As I begin to write, I feel like my brother is still around, and the poem Immortality by Clare Harner (1934) penetrates my consciousness. I withdrew from typing and closed my eyes leaning back listening to these words flowing in my head.
Do not stand
By my grave, and weep
I am not there,
I do not sleep –

I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints in snow,
I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the gentle, autumn rain.
When you awaken with morning’s hush
I am the swift upflinging rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the day transcending night.

I would like to believe that Purnanand Roopnarine aka Paro, Blacks, is still around, but he is gone in ways that would bring tears to even the unknown. Purnanand left Guyana in 1982 for Canada. He studied at the University of Winnipeg and at Columbia University earning many degrees including a PhD. His last place of employment was at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York.

It was a few blocks from this place, about five years ago, he was riding his bicycle from work to home when he was hit by a vehicle and paralysed. The driver is still on the run and the case is now a cold one until the driver is caught. Purnanand fought his condition for five years but lost the battle on June 1, 2022. Pandit Deo, my mother, sister and myself were at his side when he went into another world. I believe that Purnanand is saying these words by poet/journalist Harner.

Do not Stand
By my grave, and cry –
I am not there,
I did not die

I say this because when I asked Purnanand what he would like to say about the person that hit him and took off. He said these words: “What would that prove, and he shook his head in dismay.”
I believe that he forgave the hit-and-run driver who is now a vehicular murderer. When I mentioned his forgiveness in my speech on the night of his viewing, some were shocked, but Paro had a heart of gold. His entire demeanour reveals all sublimity. His calm approach to life provides him with confidence to encounter all challenges even until his last breath.

I was there
I cannot write more. I am choking up. I am strong, however, to continue to seek justice, and if any information surfaces concerning the hit-and-run accident, please contact me below. I am sorry not to have the accident report with me, but he was hit on February 18, 2017, on 77 street not too far from Central Park, New York around 20:00 hrs. The videos collected by police did not provide any definite evidence. May God bless his soul. (lomarsh.roopnarine@jsums.edu).

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