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Nariza and Ryan Budhu Oral History

Nariza Budhu, who emigrated from Guyana in the early 1980s, speaks with her American-born son Ryan Budhu, an attorney at a law firm, a photographer and past president of the South Asian Bar Association of New York. Nariza recounts coming to New York City for the first time to seek medical care for her toddler Ravi, who was born premature and had a heart defect. She recalls the family's struggles to reinvent themselves here and the tight embrace and support of the relatives who sponsored them to come to America. And she remembers her son Ravi, who died in 2008 in police custody. Arrested on a DUI charge after hitting a parked car in Queens, he was taken to the hospital with minor injuries but died five days later, his feet shackled, cuffs on his hands. Nariza, who had worked taking care of children before going on disability, reflects on how she was able to contend with her loss by becoming a mother to a child who had lost her own.

Duration: 00:47:34

Date: July 20, 2020
Type: Oral History
Source: Archival Creators Fellowship Program
Creator: Gaiutra Bahadur
Location: New York, NY

Ryan Budhu (RB) (0:00):
Today is July 20. My name is Ryan Budhu. And I'm talking with my mom, Nariza Budhu. Mom, how’s it going?

Nariza Budhu (NB):
It's going good. How are you?

I'm good. I'm good. So, as you know, we're going to talk a little bit about you, your experience in Guyana, and your experience coming to the United States. Actually, when did you first come to the United States?

NB (0:30):
I came in October 1979.

And do you come with anyone?

Yeah, I came with my son, Ravi. [MUFFLED]

RB (0:42):
And was that on like a tourist visa or?

NB (0:48):
We went in to get a visa for all of us to come, because he had problems with his heart. So we said we're going to bring him over here and get him checked out. But when we went there for the visa, only Ravi and I got the visa. Your dad didn’t.

RB (1:12):
You were saying that Ravi had a problem with his heart. He was born premature, right?

Yeah, he was.

So what exactly is the problem with his heart?

NB (1:22):
They said, you know, the upper chamber had a hole in his heart.

RB (1:28):
And so you guys came to the US to have surgery?

NB (1:35):
No, we just come for them to evaluate him.

RB (1:37):
Oh, got it. Got it. And you were saying about Ravi—he was born premature. How premature was he born?

NB (1:47):
You have to see, yeah...Um like seven months, two weeks, I was...

RB (1:53):
So you and Ravi got the visa and dad wasn’t able to get one. What was that like?

NB (2:02):
It was hard because—but then we said okay, we can see what to do, what else to do, you know?

So how old were you in 1979?

NB (2:21):
I was like 20? 20. I was 20.

So you were 20, and how old was Ravi? Three or four?

He was just three.

And so you, Ravi, by yourselves in New York? Or did you meet anyone, or?

My mom and dad were here. They came in ‘78.

RB (2:37):
Okay, so you're staying with them when you landed.

Yes. They picked us up, they had an apartment.

Where was the apartment?

NB (2:50):
I think 88 169 Street. 88th avenue, 169th street.

RB (3:00):
Okay. And how exactly was that experience? You have Ravi checked out by some doctors. How long were you in the US for?

NB (3:16):
Yeah, I went back April 1980.

RB (3:22):
Oh, so you stayed for the entire winter?


So you didn't see Dad that entire time?


What was your first impression of New York? Around that time?

NB (3:33):
Well, when we came, you know, you'll see different things that you haven't seen in Guyana before, like the escalator and stuff. And everything was fancy in there, and then we came out into the car, where we were driving around Liberty and stuff. I said, Oh, you know, you know—like, in my mind, I was saying that I didn't expect that. You know?

RB (3:57):
You were expecting maybe like a Manhattan skyscraper?

Yeah! Yeah, like a big building or whatever, you know? What you see before, you know, you expect that you’re going to see all that. But it wasn’t like that, so…

RB (4:11):
So that was also your first winter too. Right?


So coming from Guyana was—I assume that was a big culture shock, right, in terms of just having a very cold winter?

NB (4:24):
Yes. Yes. And then my mom was working, so that was different. Because in Guyana, she didn't work. When she came over here, she was working. My dad was working. My brothers were here too.

RB (4:35):
Okay, so how many of your brothers—how many brothers do you have first?

NB (4:39):
I have six brothers, with one parent.

RB (4:43):
How many were in the US when you first came?

They were all here.

Oh, so all six were in the US in 1979.


So you guys—you and dad were kind of the last left in Guyana.

NB (5:01):
Yes. My grandparents were here too.

RB (5:08):
And you were also saying that grandma was working and so was grandpa. I know grandpa—he was a mechanic. What was grandma doing?

NB (5:22):
I think she was working in some factory.

RB (5:25):
So that first visit, everything was okay kind of with Ravi? Did you have to come back for surgery, something else?

NB (5:35):
No, when we went there they did a checkup there and said, whenever we decide, they advised us that we should do the surgeries, because like when he gets older, he could get like a heart attack. There's no hurry, so we say okay, you know, we decided to wait, we wouldn't do anything.

RB (5:56):
Because Dad wasn't there, right?


So like, was that kind of hard, though? Did Dad try to visit you guys during those few months or something else?

NB (6:11):
Oh no. He tried--he went to Canada. And he had difficult time there because we had expected that he would go to Canada and my dad would see somewhere to bring him over.

Bring him to the border.

Yes. So when he went there, I think his cousin was supposed to pick him up at the airport.And she showed up late, and when they see that no one was picking him up, they started searching his bag and they found a lot of—they know that we were over here and stuff. You know?

RB (6:48):
Let me make sure I get this straight: his cousin—were they in Canada?

Yes, his cousin was in Canada. One, a girl.

Got it. So he tried to cross over, he wasn’t allowed, and then he had to spend two weeks in Canada before he had to go back to Guyana. Is that right?

NB (7:07):
Yes. No. He came to Canada. You don’t get visa from Canada at that time. You used to come to [UNSURE 7:19] and they would give a visa to stay a couple weeks or whatever it is. But when he went—he gave her address, she’s going to pick him up. But when she didn’t pick him up at the airport, they started—they were suspicious, so they started searching his bag and stuff. They saw he had people over here. Yeah.

RB (7:44):
Okay, and that kind of tipped them off, right?

NB (7:47):
Yes. And then she didn’t want to get involved. So she said--he stayed two weeks and then go back to Guyana.

RB (7:57):
Knowing that Ravi had heart issues, and also that you are so young, because when you had him you were 16, right?

I was 17.

17. So what was your relationship with Ravi like?

NB (8:14):
Oh my god. It was--actually before I had Ravi, I had a lot of problems. I had been in the hospital before. And so when when he actually--I was in the hospital, they had to keep me on bedrest. So, but then when he was supposed to be born, it was such a hard thing but I keep—I was so happy when I got Ravi. I was so happy. So happy.

RB (8:50):
What do you mean, like there’s trouble? Were you afraid of like a miscarriage?

NB (8:58):
Yes. Yeah, they had kept me when I was at five months in the hospital. And because--for the whole pregnancy, I was sick, with Ravi. So and then when I got him, I was so scared. I’d keep praying, oh don’t let nothing happen, don’t let nothing happen. So when I got Ravi as like, you know, it was like--it was so funny with Ravi because usually when a kid is born, they would like pat them on the back and they’d be screaming, but Ravi came out screaming. Ravi came out screaming. They were all laughing.

RB (9:47):
So was kind of like your life in Guyana before you guys even moved?

NB (9:54):
Well, with--I mean, we were okay. With crime and stuff we’d always be scared. At night you’d get up and look at the window because people usually would break your door and come in, you know? So the night is more scary than the day. So I was always scared about that.

What did Dad do in Guyana?

Well, he was the manager for the Continental.

RB (10:29):
So I guess let's fast forward then. So it's now--we're going back to April now. 1980. And so you guys go back to Guyana...

NB (10:40):
No--before, when we were here, we went to Manhattan and everything, because Zaman, he took us to Manhattan, to the Circle Line, to the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty and stuff. We went to a lot of places--Uncle Zaman took us. So one day, we were coming up with the elevator, because it's an apartment building. While coming up on the building, we saw a guy, two guys were coming up with us. And while we were opening the door, he asked, he said “Do you have a leak in the bathroom?” I said “yes, yes, we have a leak.” He said, “Okay, we’ll come to fix the leak.” So they opened the door and we went in. And they went in the bathroom. So they took a while in the bathroom and then they came out. And when they came out they had two guns. Both of them had guns. And they handcuffed us and I had my wedding ring and my watch, and they took everything what I had, and then Ravi was crying. They tie my hand behind my back and throw me in the closet and Ravi was crying. And he was telling them what should we do? And he said, just put him in a garbage bag. I was screaming from the closet and I said no no no, give him to me. So then they throw him to me, and tried to tie his hand too. So we wait a long time afterward, and we didn’t hear no sound, but then afterward, he free himself and he come and open the closet.

So that was your trip to visit the US?

Yes, that was my trip to visit the US. Yes.

RB (12:43):
And I assume you guys called the police after?

NB (12:56):
Yeah, we did. But they didn't get anything back.

RB (13:02):
You know, that must have been scary, too.

NB (13:05):
It was, it was. And then also, that same time when I came, before the January before, before we go back, Ravi was sick. He had a fever, and the fever wouldn’t go away. So we took him to the emergency, my dad and I. When we went they said he had pneumonia. But then his fever was so high, they had to put him in a bathtub with ice. He was screaming. He spent maybe--actually two weeks in the hospital. He spent two weeks in the hospital.

He spent two weeks in the hospital...

He had pneumonia. Yeah.

RB (13:53):
I mean that seems like a very eventful stay that you guys have in New York. An armed robbery, pneumonia that has two weeks. And everything was okay with the with the--with his heart condition? What was all that?

NB (14:16):
Yeah. They said later on--because we told, later on we’re going to come back. Because we know your dad wasn’t gonna get through. So they said okay, you gotta do it before--before he gets older. When he gets older he maybe can get a heart attack and he cannot be safe.

RB (14:35):
So you were worried—you guys go back. And when do you come back to the US?

NB (14:41):
Well, we went back April 1980. And then we came back in 1981.

RB (14:50):
And, so, this time though it was permanent, right?


And so what was your thought process this time because before, in the 1979 trip, that was, you know, you're going there, you know, kind of, for like a medical thing, for a limited time. But now this time you're leaving everything behind. So how was that?

NB (15:11):
Well, actually, I was really leaving everything there because all my family was over here in America, but your dad, all family was over there. And I felt very bad for Ma when we were leaving. Why did you feel bad for?

Why’d you feel bad for her?

NB (15:34):
You know, I made her for—her son does smile because she thought, Oh, yeah, he's gonna take care of her, he’s going to take care of her. So she was so sad, and crying and stuff, so I felt very bad for her.

RB (15:52):
Eventually she does—she is able to come over though, right?

NB (15:55):
Well, actually, we brought her, I think in ‘82, we brought her for holiday. You weren't born then.

RB (16:03):
And--but she does eventually get to come there permanently, right?

NB (16:07):
Yeah, I think--was it ‘88 she came? Permanent.

RB (16:15):
So you guys leave. So what's your, like, first impression of, you know, the transition, leaving behind and just coming to the US?

NB (16:26):
Oh, well, when we came first, it was, I mean, a very big adjustment, because that time was, was vacation time. Everything was different. So you know, my mom and them, they were very nice. And my dad and them, they were very nice too. They had two bedrooms, so they give us one. And my brother George used to be in the other one. So we were together with mom and dad, we would cook and [UNSURE 17 min], because everybody used to be together. It was a nice time, that time. With your dad--

Oh sorry, go ahead.

Your dad was a bit [inaudible], because he didn’t get--it was a different transition for him than for me. Because I had all my family here, and he was comfortable too. I think he started to feel bad when he wasn’t working. So--

So it took dad a while to get a job?

Yeah, of course, he did it well. And then my dad told him, you know, don't worry about it, don't worry about it. Because, you know, you keep worrying about it. And so my dad kept telling him don't worry about it, the places call. You know, you're gonna get something. Yeah. So--but eventually he got a job. It was hard because he had to go to Manhattan. And then he stayed for a while there. Not for a while--maybe a couple of weeks or something. And then I think he got a job after that. And then he went to an agency, and when he went to the agency, they hired him temporary for the circuit. You know how it works with the agency. And then when he went there, they hired him full time.

RB (18:27):
And for the circuit, they used to make circuit boards for our cars, right? And I remember that you and dad at some point worked together for the circuit.

NB (18:43):


When you were two years. Then I started.

RB (18:50):
So around like 1986.

NB (18:52):
Yeah, so then we said--my brother used to live upstairs. So when Look at my buddies to live upstairs. Nasim used to live upstairs. So when he bought a house, eventually we moved upstairs. They had a two bedroom upstairs. So we moved upstairs. Yeah.

So that's where that's where I first was, right?

Yes. When you were born, we came up to live there.

RB (19:18):
Okay. And I remember, you know, you were saying, so now you’ve got two kids, and at the age of two around 1986 or so, you started going to work. So both you and dad are working. How long did that last?

NB (19:35):
No. When we were by my mom, I used to babysit kids until my dad said--my mom was working, nobody would be there to look after Ravi after he’d come from school. So he said don’t work. Stay and look after Ravi because you can’t leave him. So but then I started to babysit. I used to make dal puri and sell to a store. I think in Union Turnpike. They knew someone. So I used to cook roti then and I would supply the store.

Like a bakery?

No, I think it was a regular restaurant.

And this was like a Caribbean restaurant?

No, I think it was like an Indian restaurant. Because he used to work for these people in Guyana. They had owned a Continental. And their sister was here. So they had the restaurant.

Oh I see. So it was owned by Guyanese, but it was an Indian restaurant.

No, no, he wasn’t Guyanese. He was an Indian who went in Guyana and opened that Continental.

Oh I see. So the Indian company was doing business in Guyana and they also had a restaurant here.

Yeah and then we started to--after you were born, we started to look for a house to buy because you know, we wanted to move out because the family got bigger. And then we saw that house that was a fixer upper house, and we had some money and then my brother helped us too, to start out with the house. So we got we got a head start with the house.

RB (21:36):
You got you guys have this house--sorry no, go ahead.

NB (21:41):
So when we moved there, there was so much work to be done because remember, it was a fixer upper house. So we were painting and doing all this work inside the house, then when you were little, and then after we finished up the house and stuff. Ma came, so then she was with us that time. She came, then dad said, then we decide I’m going to go to work. So I started to work. Ma was with you guys.

RB (22:21):
So how long I guess did Ma take care of us, that you were working?

NB (22:28):
She did take care a long long time, because before Ma came, we used to drop you and Ravi to my mom’s. I’d leave you in the morning when you were little. And then Ravi used to take care of you then. You were small then. He used to look after you in the morning and then then we eventually said it was hard let’s bring Ma, so Ma came, and Ma used to stay with you guys.

RB (23:03):
Yeah, I do remember Ravi taking care of me a little bit. Also the did Ravi ever have the surgery or anything like that?

NB (23:13):
Yes, he had the surgery when he was--before you were born. I think. Yeah, ‘83 had surgery.

RB (23:25):
So after--afterwards, he seemed--after the surgery I don't think there were really health problems with Ravi, right?

NB (23:39):
No, he was okay. And then when, I think when he started Junior High, because he was okay, I had you and Josh and [inaudible]. And then he started--he came down one morning and he said his chest feels like it’s gonna explode. He was getting palpitations. So then we had to carry to emergency and they had to admit him. Yeah. He was, I think two weeks in there because it was very touch and go then. They were trying different medications to get the heart to the right rhythm or whatever it is. So that was hard.

What happened after that?

Well, after that he was--when he came home, he was okay. He just had to, like, take things lightly, and but then he was okay after then.

RB (24:50):
I know that, as the years progressed, Ravi graduated high school, he goes into business. I know he does some tech stuff. I graduate high school, go to college, and I know Ravi starts to do--I know he works at American Express at some point know as the years progress where I'll be graduating high school and then He goes into business. I know he does some tech stuff. I graduate high school, go to college. And I know Ravi starts to do, certainly works for like American Express at some point. And starts his own business, right?

NB (25:20):
Yeah. First, he was working on at the time I think it was Liberty.

Oh yeah, Liberty Brokerage.

Yes, he worked a little earlier.

RB (25:34):
And then it’s kind of interesting because me and Josh and Alisa--so I’m a lawyer, Josh is a doctor, and Alisa she’s into activism, but in the hospitality industry. All three of us are in service jobs.


Ravi was the only entrepreneur. Did you ever see anything different with like his entrepreneurial spirit or like, what he--what his dreams were or what he was trying to accomplish?

NB (26:11):
Well, you know something with Ravi, and all of us, is when Ravi was very little, and you know, we used to live in a good neighborhood, whatever, we'd go visit anyone and you know, get food and you know, we would sit on the ground and eat with our hands and stuff. We would always--he was so small in Guayana. He would laugh and play with the kids. He would blend in. He always blended in. That’s why when he came to America, anywhere we go, they would always say, they’ve never seen a kid who would blend in so, you know, it was like, made a friend or anything. He’d always blend in anywhere he’d go. He’d always say, “Uncle,” “Aunty”--very respectful towards everyone.

RB (27:05):
And you know, I think, so at this point, it's kind of interesting, because like, we move out of Jamaica. And then we're moving to Queen village, right? And so, we're kind of now in the middle of Queens, and Ravi’s starting his business and everything like that. And I know at this point, at some point, Dad gets laid off from the circuit, because they move that factory. I think it's Malaysia. They move it to Malaysia. And so Dad reinvents himself and becomes a mortgage and real estate broker. And I think--our family does pretty well for this amount of time. Right?

Yes. We were.

And then I think, that kind of comes a difficult time in 2008, right? The financial crisis and stuff happens too, right?

NB (28:09):
Yeah. Because before the 2008, I think, I think 2005--when, when, how--Yeah, around 2005 when your dad was doing business with [UNSURE 28:25], when they cheat him out? So your dad was in depression for a while. And he wasn’t working. Yeah, he was in depression. He had to get medication and stuff.

RB (28:39):
I think it was a little--I think it, you know, Dad has to reinvent himself a few times, because it's difficult. Because in Guyana, he was a successful businessman.


And then he comes to US, and he has to start over again. And it takes him a while to get a job, and meanwhile he has a wife and kids. And he does. And I think he rises to the level of manager at photo circuit, and very well hired a lot of other Guyanese people to work in photo circuit. But then of course, just like a lot of American workers, his job gets outsourced, and he has to reinvent himself again.


And then he does successfully, you know, and raises, you know, me, Josh, Alisa, and Ravi. But then once again, 2008 hit. And 2008 was also kind of a difficult year for us too because we lost Ravi that year.

NB (29:46):
Yes. That was really--I cannot describe that. That feeling is very--it’s a very hard thing to go through.

RB (29:59):
Yeah. I remember Dad calling me and telling me that I should come home because Ravi was in the hospital. How did you guys find out that Ravi was in the hospital?

NB (30:16):
When usually he comes in, he would call. That’s the thing with him. He does drink and stuff but he always called and say I’m going to come home--no, he would call and say, what are you cooking? On Saturday, Sunday, like I’m not coming. So Wednesday morning, Tuesday I didn’t think, then Wednesday morning, I said, I don’t think--I kept saying call the hospital and see if any, you know--because we didn’t get no call from Ravi, and I told him to call the hospital. So he called the hospital, and when he called Queens General, then they said yes he was admitted there.

RB (30:59):
So he had been arrested, right? Because he had been involved in a car accident where he hit a parked car about a block away from your house. Right?

NB (31:11):
Yes. The thing is that his--the person car, I don’t know, I don’t understand, he tried to avoid not hitting the car, because that car didn’t have nothing. It maybe, he slamming the brake because the car was okay. We went and visited, it was okay.

RB (31:32):
Yeah, yeah, it was a low speed impact.

NB (31:40):
[MULTIPLE VOICES] ...came out, you know, that maybe the impact or whatever it was.

RB (31:47):
And so he was, you know, he was conscious when he walked into the hospital, because he was escorted there by police, he was in custody. And then--so you visit him, and he’s conscious, so then what happened the first day you visit?

NB (32:05):
Okay, when we went and visited, he was sitting, and we saw the police, and afterward they were with him. I saw the handcuffs, you know? So I didn’t want to be there a long time, because I didn’t want him to feel embarrassed. I didn’t want him to feel embarrassed. Because at that time I didn’t have the feeling that anything was wrong with him. And Dad was--trying to say he wanted water, and Dad was giving him ice and stuff, right? So they had given him some clothes to bring home. So then I was coming away, Ravi--”Mom, Chinese food tomorrow.” Right?

To bring Chinese food.

To bring him Chinese food. And he was okay. He was talking. Things were okay. Then Thursday morning, we were upset, so we were like we’re going to go to the hospital. Then they called from the hospital and they say, you know, we have to intubate him. He can’t breathe. So your Dad told them to go ahead. So when we went there now, Ravi, he was like--he didn’t know, nothing. Unconscious, you know. And that was it. They had handcuffs on his foot and his hand and I said, ok. His feet were swollen. Why they would--they should know, they should loosen a little. And he was getting fever. So then I talked to the doctor, he said you know, we’re running tests to see why he’s getting that fever. Then that was the Thursday. Friday when we went, he didn’t look good. He didn’t look good. The same fever again. He still had a fever. Then we went Friday they had an Indian police officer over there. He saw me crying and I said you know, he says I’m going to lose [inaudible]. Idiotic guy, they’re going to put him back outside. So I said for now I’m here, loosen it. They gave him fingerprint.

So loosening the handcuffs on his hand and feet.

No, just his feet, because his feet were so swollen.


It was too tight, so to loosen it a bit.

And then when I saw his two hands had all the black stuff on it, I tried to clean it out, you know? Because I mean they came and fingerprint him--he wasn’t conscious or anything but they fingerprint him. They didn’t even clean or nothing outside. So then I think when I came home that night I called and tell you to come because Ravi don’t look good. So then the Saturday morning, I planned it, you know what I’m going to go in the morning. And I’m going to spend the whole day with him. I wanted to do that because I didn’t feel good. I didn’t feel good about it. Because the same Friday, the same Friday, dad drop me, we went to the police station. We told them, that why did they put handcuffs on him, he couldn’t do anything. And there was a black man in charge there and he walked away. I said maybe you have kids, you would know how I feel. Because he was a big guy. And you know the guy just walked away. Didn’t say sorry or anything. Just walked away for me. I felt so bad. That was on Friday. So I said on Saturday, I’m going to go and spend a day with him. When we went there--your Dad was supposed to drive--oh, you guys were there too. I think you guys went before or something like that.

Earlier in the day.

Yeah, you and Josh went early in the day. And then your Dad dropped me. And when I went up, your Dad dropped me and then when I went up, they said, oh it didn’t look good, and then they said, oh you can’t stay here. And then I felt so bad I started to cry. And then I walked from the hospital and walked to go to grandma’s house there. And I could never forget that, when I opened the door, my mom saw me. I could never forget that look. She is the only one who could understand what I was going through. She’s the only one that I--I had all you guys but I only wanted to reach to her. And I opened--I could never forget when I look at her and she look at me. You know? And she was crying and I was crying. I knew it wasn’t good. And then I called your dad, told him what happened, and then later on he had known--the lady still talked it out and stuff. Charlotte. She said ok, I’ll try to get you in the night to see him. So Saturday night I went back to see him with your dad. The police, she took us up to go see him. He had a pass that night to go see him.

RB (38:10):
So to visit Ravi you had to get a pass.

NB (38:14):
Yeah, but she didn't because she was a police officer. So she didn’t--we didn’t have to get a pass. That was nighttime. She took us up and we get to see him.

RB (38:26):
And--but other times you had to go to the precinct beforehand to get a pass.


So you saw him Saturday night and what happens after that?

NB (38:39):
Well, that Sunday I saw his dead body.

RB (38:46):
I remember that morning, we got a call, right and they said he’d gone into cardiac arrest and because--

NB (38:56):
We were outside. The phone rang, I ran inside, pick up the phone and it said his blood pressure dropped and he go into cardiac arrest. So then we try and go over, and we have to go get this pass.

RB (39:10):
Yes, so we went to the 109th precinct, right?

Yeah, 105th precinct.

I remember going to the 105th. That was difficult, you know stuff because it didn't seem like they really cared to give us the passes. And frankly I don't think we should have even had to have gone to get the pass. And yeah, that was extremely difficult. They, you know, at no point did Ravi get even talked to.

NB (39:50):
No, that was the last thing--he wanted [inaudible], and that was the last time.

RB (39:58):
And then throughout his custody, he didn’t get to see a lawyer either, right?


And then I remember also the doctors would tell us also, you know, with the handcuffs, because the police wanted them.

Yeah it was a tug of war. Because the doctors keep saying they cannot do anything, go to the police, the police say they cannot do anything. The doctor keep saying, each other.

Yeah. And meanwhile, he's just bound by his hands and feet for five days, and there's nothing we could do.

NB (40:39):
And then they were--they lie so much, because they said they put, you know, those things to circulate the blood. The boot. They never had a boot there. If they had a boot how would they have a handcuff there? Yeah, they had a handcuff on the foot.

RB (41:00):
And so that was a difficult time, I think, for our family, right?

NB (41:10):
It was. I tried to be a bit--your dad, he had to go back on medication because he couldn't deal with it. And then I tried to, I mean some days, every night, I smile but in the back--it took me a long few months, even now sometimes I have my moments. It's a hard thing. It's a hard thing to lose a kid.

RB (41:42):
Yeah. It's interesting, though. I don't think you can ever replace or--and there's nothing that you can say that kind of describes or conveys the feeling that you have in terms of your loss. But it is interesting that, you know, a year or two after, Jared kind of went through.

NB (42:16):
It wasn't a year. It was a couple months. Rave passed in June. And the other year, May, she passed away.

RB (42:26):
And so, so Jared--Jared is my first cousin, and he--his mom, your sister in law passes away in May 2009. And so Jared is like two years old at that time?

NB (42:50):
Well, he was--when she passed the same age, he was three. But before then, when she was sick, I used to go to the house there. I used to be at the house there with her, and when she’s sick, and Jared used to be sick a lot, so I would take him to the doctor. So that’s why he got this attachment to me, and sometimes his dad would bring him to stay, when his dad came to pick him up he didn’t want to go away. And she had passed away. We were going to the cemetery to bury her. Remember? He was with us in our car. I don’t know there was some connection there, because he just hang to me.

RB (43:41):
And so since that day, you basically, you know, you [43:50ish] a very amazing arrangement--

NB (43:53):
You see, he would come, and then he would go back in the night, but he would cry. Then they had a babysitter for two months. And then the babysitter would be there but he cry and he say, I want to go to Nariza. He want to go to Nariza. So they had the babysitter, but the babysitter would have to bring him to my home. So then I used to go there and babysit him, but then when I come home in the afternoon, he cried back to come with me. So that's how I started to have him home here. And so I used to go back to look at Kevin and Shane. But he used to stay with me. So he used to be with me.

RB (44:42):
And then, I think it was earlier this year that you actually formally took guardianship of Jared, right?

NB (44:52):

Well, you know it was America, because before Jared had came, many nights I don’t sleep. Sometimes I’d be watching TV, or your Dad is asleep and I’d be watching TV, I wouldn’t be sleeping. So that give me--I mean yes I missed Ravi, but it gave me a new life because he needed a mom, so I had to be a mom to him.

RB (45:22):

One thing throughout all this entire journey, has there been, like anything that you have kept that reminds you of this entire journey? The move, coming with Ravi and everything like that?

NB (45:36):
Well, we used to have a boat. But I think the year after Ravi passed, the boat had a crack in it. And your dad, because he was mad, he said, just throw it out. Because Ravi’s not here. That used to be Ravi’s boat. I mean, I think maybe they had picture with it, the boat. Because when he came first time, we brought it and we leave it with grandma--my mom--and when we came back we took it to our house. And it was in this house, and I think in 2009, it had a crack, and Dad said just throw it out.

I think it’s been an interesting journey for our family, to go from Ma who was cutting sugarcane.

And you remember she was living with us too? But then remember she got Alzheimer’s?


I took care of her.

She was an amazing woman. But so are you, Mom.

I love being a mom.

Collection: Gaiutra Bahadur Fellowship Project
Item History: 2020-08-24 (created); 2022-01-21 (modified)

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