While birthdays are traditionally celebrated once a year, Rishi Nagassar prioritised celebrating his two-year-old son’s birthday every month.
Nagassar’s family didn’t quite understand his “obsession with buying birthday cakes for Nashhik.”
But in the wake of his tragic death, it is one of their fondest memories of him.
Nagassar – known as Blacks and Ryan to many – was one of four divers who died after they were pulled into a 30-inch Paria Fuel Trading Co Ltd underwater crude oil pipeline in Pointe-a-Pierre on February 25 while working on it.
His body was the last to be recovered and he was last to be laid to rest. Pundit Surujdath Maharaj performed Nagassar’s final rites on Thursday at his home on Richmond Street in Perseverance Village, Couva.
Nagassar’s niece Ashwarie Beharrilal recalled, “In total Nashhik received 34 birthday cakes in his less than three years of life. Why did you buy a cake on the fourth of every month?
“Now we understand why…so in case you are not here, he had enough birthday cakes to last him a lifetime.
“Our papa, our baby, our Nashhik was your whole life…you were indeed the father every child wanted.”
She also reminisced that Nagassar influenced them to love the sea just as much as he did, because he would take them on many beach trips, river limes and fishing trips.
Another of Nagassar’s nieces, Ashley Beharrilal, also admired Nagassar’s love for Nashhik.
She said, “Along came Nashhik when he (Nagassar) said his life was complete. Since Nashhik was born, every month he would buy a cake on the fourth to celebrate his birthday each month.
“Nashhik doesn’t even know when his real birthday is, because whenever he sees a cake, he think it’s his birthday.
“The whole family would think this is silly, but I guess now we understand how much it meant to him.”
Ashely was also fond of the bond Nagassar shared with his wife Vanessa Kussie from the day they met 13 years ago.
Ashley explained, “He’d always sweet-talk her and call her ‘Curly Hair.’ He told her that he’s always dreamed he would meet someone with curly hair and, after he saw her, she was the person from his dreams.
“It’s been 13 years now since Uncle Ryan was introduced to our family and immediately, he connected with all the uncles and aunties.”
She said in his last days, Nagassar became increasingly worried about his mother’s health, but little did anyone know “that our world would shatter on Friday 25 February.”