Ashma Naimool

Joshua Seemungal

On June 3, 2015, Ashma Naimool, a then 32-year-old beautician, left her sister’s home in Tacarigua with a male friend.

She never returned.

“You ever had a dream and it came true? Well, that is the beginning of my story. I literally dreamt I was looking for my sister and I couldn’t find her. I remember going to my other sisters and saying,’ I don’t always dream, I feel something is going to happen,'” Naimool’s older sister, Nia, recalled.

“The last words I said to my sister were ‘please don’t go anywhere today.’ I said, ‘Ashma, please, I am begging you.'”

More than six years later, a piece of Nia’s heart and mind remains lost in that moment, suspended in limbo.

“I replay this in my mind over and over, and I always wonder how differently I could have dealt with it,” she said.

The night before, the sisters who lived together sat down for an open, honest conversation as they often did.

Naimool told her sister that she was going out the next day with a male friend and she intended to end their relationship.

“I said, ‘why don’t you do it at home’? And, she was such a sweet-natured person that she said, ‘I just want to do something nice. I just want to have a little lunch, so that we can talk it through,'” Nia said.

“She said, ‘I never ask you for anything. I’m asking you for this one thing.’”

It would be the last thing Naimool asked of Nia.

June 3, 2015

At around 4 pm on June 3, 2015, a male friend picked up Naimool in his vehicle.

According to him, they went shopping before stopping at a bar along the Arima Old Road for a few drinks.

During their time together, he said, Naimool told him she planned to meet another friend, someone called “Stacy”.

Later that evening, he said that he dropped her off ‘somewhere’ in Arouca.

That was the last time he saw her, he told the police and media.

Exactly 24 hours after Naimool’s disappearance, Nia filed a missing person report with the police.

While it wasn’t unusual for the 32-year-old to spend the night out with her friend, Nia knew, instinctively, something was wrong when her sister failed to return home.

“I remember going to give a statement and I asked them (police) when they were going to do something and when they are going to get people to do some questioning. And you know what they said to me? They said, ‘ma’am, you know we can’t do anything unless there is a body,'” Nia recounted.

Attempts by search parties to locate Naimool, composed mainly of family and friends, were unsuccessful.

While she expressed gratitude to a few officers from the TTPS’ Cold Case Unit and the Biche Police Station for their assistance, Nia said she was disappointed by the standard of the police investigation.

“We were transparent with them to give them some sort of lead. Some people don’t know where it happened or why it happened to their loved one, but, at least, they had some trail to even try,” Nia lamented.

“We have knocked on so many doors and they were closed because we didn’t know who to go to. After that, we knocked on this door…It would just be somebody by the way who just probably said, ‘Nia, have you tried this? You need to go there.’ They don’t go out there to families of missing people and find out what else they need to do.”

Claims of emotional abuse

According to Nia, in the weeks and months leading up to Naimool’s disappearance, the nail technician’s personality changed.

The free-spirited and bubbly woman became progressively more withdrawn and depressed.

Nia claimed Naimool told her that a relationship she was involved in was emotionally abusive and that she was tired of it.

“There was an incident where she came to me and she said, ‘Nia, I had to fight with him to take away two bottles of lanate.’ He told her he was going to drink it if she left him,” Nia said.

“People who are in abusive relationships–whether physical, emotional or mental–their trauma response is thinking they could fix it or the person might change or heal, or they would heal this person. I believe that is what she tried to do.”

Nia believed officers should have been more proactive in investigating Naimool’s friend.

While she refused to say definitively whom she believed was responsible, Nia did say he had to ‘take some responsibility.’

No one has been arrested in connection with the case, but it remains under investigation by the TTPS’ Cold Case Unit.

A deep suffering

“The best way I could see to explain it is deep suffering. It’s not just something that tugs at your heart…It’s like you lost your whole personality. I believe everybody, everyone, in my immediate family, I believe their personality was compromised in some way,” Nia said, describing the hurt caused by the lack of closure.

At family gatherings, she said, they attempt to have fun and talk about the good times, but a deep sadness always creeps in to steal any semblance of joy.

“It took me years to laugh and the first time I heard myself, I was shocked. And then, I stopped because it was like something I didn’t hear for a while,” she said.

While she wishes it wasn’t the case, Nia confessed that the suffering of Naimool’s loss will never leave her.

Not a day goes by, she said, without thinking of her sister.

“I feel like Ashma’s story is out there. It’s being put on a desk somewhere and somebody is seeing it and they just say,’ ok, well, one more year, two more years, three more years.’ Ok, they are going to forget about it. But, we don’t. We keep pushing.

“My worst fear is somebody not being held accountable for it and, particularly, the person who is involved.”