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Village mourns for humble hero

Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Bisnath Ramrattan looks at a photograph of his son, T&T scholar 2002 winner Ravindra Ramrattan who was killed in a terrorist arrack at the Westgate Mall, Nairobi, Kenya, on Saturday. PHOTO: TONY HOWELL

Pleasant, humble and brilliant, Ravindra Ramrattan was a hero in his hometown of Munroe Road, Cunupia. When he won the President’s Medal, Gold, in 2002, while a student at Presentation College, Chaguanas, the community celebrated with his family. When he migrated to study at renowned Universities of Cambridge, Oxford and later, the London School of Economics, the success story of this humble young man filled his neighbours’ hearts with pride. Yesterday the community of Munroe Road, Cunupia, was thrown into sadness, as word spread that Ravi, one of their brightest sons, was among approximately 68, shot and killed in a terrorist attack at the Nairobi’s Westgate Shopping Mall, Kenya, over the weekend. At the family’s home, there was a constant flow of mourners and well wishers who visited to offer sympathy and support to Ravi’s parents, Bisnath and Parbatie Ramrattan. Among them, principal of Presentation College, Chaguanas, Gary Ribeiro, and members of staff who taught Ravi. 



Grieving mom Parbatie Ramrattan held on to a relative and cried, as the tragedy, thousands of miles away in Kenya, was reported on CNC3 and photos of the Trinidadian scholar flashed on the television screen. “I never expected to be doing my son’s funeral. I have two sons, (Ravi and Rajiv) to do our rites when we die, not us to do their rites,” the devout Hindu woman cried. “Ravi left me too early. He should not have died now because he had so much to live for. He was an innocent victim in that situation. “Ravi was not a violent person,” she said commenting on the savage manner in which his life was taken when Shabab militant attackers launched an attack on the mall, killing at least 68 people and holding others hostage over the weekend. The bereaved mother said the incident “has changed the whole course of everything. I have three children, Ravi, Rajiv and Reshma but Ravi was our gem. “He was our eyeball. He was the light of the life for everyone, his family, the community, because of his personality. He was friendly, easy to get along with, always humble, obedient, always pleasant, never gave anyone trouble.” 


She described her son as a high achiever, who excelled in everything he set out to do, including copping the coveted President’s Medal, Gold, in 2002. “Ravi, in all respects, was an excellent role model for all other children as well as his siblings. Children who do well (at Presentation) now try to catch up to Ravi’s standards. He has set the stage for others to follow.”  She said four years ago he took up a job in the financial sector in Kenya, to do research economics towards his PHD, which was his passion, even though he was offered to do it at Mc Gill University, Canada.
“He opted to go to Kenya because he wanted to challenge his mind and Kenya was a challenge. “He wanted to come up with solutions and create new ideas because he was doing development economics, so he went to Kenya to be the in the workplace that would give him the opportunity to open further windows towards his PHD, when everything came to an end.” Parbatie said she last spoke to her son on his 30th birthday on September 2 and then communicated with him by e-mail a week ago. She said she last saw him in June 2012 when he came home for a family function. The family had planned to visit him next year.


All the plans crashed on Saturday, when friends notified them he was missing after the hostage siege. “They (his friends) kept us updated and they searched day and night until they found his body on Sunday and called us.” She said: “This is not something I ever expected. I don’t know what to feel. For me as a mother, Ravi has left me too early. He should not have died now. He had too much to live for.” She said her other children Rajiv, an engineer, resident in England and her daughter, Reshma, an attorney-at-law are all torn up by the news. “The pain we are feeling now, will be with us for the rest of our lives,” she said. Her husband, who held a graduation photo of his late son, said: “Ravi was a goal-oriented, sociable and fun-loving individual. He loved nature and the simple life, although he could rub shoulders at the highest level of the World Bank. “Instead of simply staying within the norm of graduating and staying in T&T, he explored the world, until this unfortunate situation. He said even though Ravi spent a short time on this earth, “it would have been very fulfilling and whatever his fate has taken him, he would have lived a full life at his age.” Ramrattan said Ravi set standards for his siblings, Rajiv, also a past Presentation student and Reshma a St Augustine Girls’ High School pupil, who both went on to win national scholarships. “I am very proud of my children, despite the situation,” Ramrattan said.


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