By Kelsey Durham
Family and friends of a teenage couple killed in a car accident last year gathered in Jamaica Estates last weekend to remember their loved ones as the one-year anniversary of the crash approached.
Relatives of Anil Persaud and Meera “Jestina” Dukharan held a ceremony at a family home to memorialize the teen husband and wife, who died June 29, 2013, after both were ejected from the back seat of a car that crashed into a guard rail on the Grand Central Parkway.
The couple left behind their young daughter, who was 14 months old at the time of the crash and recently turned 2, to be raised by their parents.
The couple’s friend, Madosh Hansraj, now 21, was charged with manslaughter, assault, criminally negligent homicide and driving under the influence after an investigation found he was driving the car at 119 mph with a blood alcohol level at 0.72 at the time of the crash, police said after the accident.
As loved ones filed into the home on 164th Place last Saturday, Persaud’s mother, Bibi, held her granddaughter, Meya, who spends half her time with the Persauds and the other half with her maternal grandparents.
“She’s all we have left from them,” Bibi said, remembering her son and daughter-in-law. “We have to have some memory of them.”
Bibi said she had been planning to hold a memorial service on the anniversary of the crash for a while, saying she knew she had to do something to allow Anil and Jestina’s family and friends to come together and remember them on what would be an emotional day for anyone who knew the young parents.
She said she expected about 150 people to attend the Saturday service, during which the family planned to send prayers to their late relatives and to come together and remember the good times they shared with them.
“Anil was a fine young man, my last son,” said his father, Chitranjan Persaud. “I remember the last day I saw him, the 28th of June. It was a Friday and I was dropping him off to work.”
In the backyard of the Persauds’ home, the family set up rows of chairs leading up to a table where photographs of Anil and Jestina sat behind a stack of prayer cards made in honor of the two. Bibi said she often shows Meya pictures of her mother and father and tells her good things about them, but the toddler does not know that her parents are no longer with her.
“She knows her parents, but she doesn’t know where they are,” Bibi said. “I tell her that they’re up there with the birds, but I keep her remembering them.”
Bibi said she and her family planned to visit the cemetery the next day, the official one-year mark, where Anil and Jestina are buried, and she said they would place flowers at the grave as well as the site of the crash.
As time passes and the family’s wounds begin to heal, Bibi said she would continue to make sure her granddaughter learns more about the loving parents she never got the chance to get to know.
“She’ll know them as she grows up,” she said. “I’ll make sure of that.”
Reach reporter Kelsey Durham at 718-260-4573 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.