Yesterday morning, Danielle Brathwaite was in the process of planning the 32nd birthday party for her boyfriend Neipaul Trotman.
Hours later, she had to rush him to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) after he was shot multiple times on the beach at Fitts Village, St James – just a stone’s throw from their home – in full view of his two-year-old son.
By the end of the night, she was without her partner and best friend.
Sitting on the steps of the home the couple shared with their toddler son Neikobe Trotman, 27-year-old Brathwaite spoke to Barbados TODAY about the fairy tale of their life which she said ended brutally and abruptly.
Periodically stopping to shed a few tears, she described outside as bright and sunny as the family spent time on the beach, taking advantage of their son being home on a two-week break from nursery. Brathwaite said she returned home to get her phone and was there for less than five minutes before she heard a sound pierce the air and initially thought that it was a blown jet ski tyre.
But then she heard the same sound again, triggering an alarm in her head and causing her to rush outside.
“When I run outside I saw everybody scampering like something happened and the only two people that I was concerned about [were] my son and my boyfriend,” she said as she held her head, rocking her body.
After taking a few seconds to compose herself, a teary-eyed Brathwaite continued: “I was looking to see where he [Neipaul] is. I looked and I looked and I saw him on the ground sitting down holding he stomach.”
Her son, meantime, was safe in the arms of a man who was on the beach.
After seeing that horrific sight and the pain etched on her boyfriend’s face, she rushed back to the house to collect her car keys, went to the car, reversed as close as possible to the scene and asked some of the spectators to help her lift him into the vehicle so that she could make her way to the hospital.
“On my way I was praying and trying to talk to he so that he wouldn’t drift off. I was studying that he always saying he don’t want to leave he son. I was saying to myself that he ain’t gine dead, he is a fighter, he ain’t gine dead. When he get to the hospital he was just like ‘where part Dani [his pet name for her]?’ and he was just screaming my name.”
The hairdresser, who operates a salon attached to her house, said what angered her as a mother and a human being was hearing her child recounting what he had witnessed.
“He was like ‘Mummy, a man shoot my daddy and he drop. My daddy dead; I can’t get a different daddy. I can’t get no new daddy.’ But you know my son ain’t like the average two-year-old; he is very advanced. So last night I was crying very badly and I was saying that I ain’t got nobody now. And you know what my son told me? He said ‘mummy you got me’,” she said as she lowered her head.
Danielle said that the deceased, who was a water sports operator, was the breadwinner and always ensured that his family was provided for. She said they were together from the time she was 16-years-old and would have been celebrating their 11th anniversary as a couple next February.
“We were together for years and we had hard times and we come on top together . . . He was doing things for himself and I was doing things for myself and people does hate on you for that. We fought hard to get a baby and now he gone,” she said.
And according to Danielle, Trotman would have been pleased with the birthday party she was planning for him as she intended to do her best to make it as close as possible to perfect.
“Paulie birthday was the 21st of this month and I was planning a surprise birthday for him. I was now looking at getting the venue and buying things. He didn’t know but he would have loved it because anything I did for him was well done,” she said.
The ordeal is one that the emotionally-wrecked Danielle said she would never forget, especially the last moments she spent with him before he died.
“I lay down to the bottom of the bed touching and touching and talking and talking until his heart stopped.”
Just last month, Neipaul lost a close friend who also died tragically.