Trinidad Express / The daughter of missing hairdresser Ria Sookdeo will celebrate her 11th birthday on Tuesday.
And the little girl has the same wish as last year – she wants her mummy to come home.
Her younger brother, aged seven, wants the same thing, relatives said.
Mark Sookdeo, her husband, said his children’s lives were shattered when two men dragged his wife out of her Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) and took her away back in September 2016.
The children have returned to school, he said, but they have not given up hope that their mummy will return home.
“My children ask for their mummy all the time. There are good days and bad days. Sometimes they will cry. I think we all need some kind of closure but I think any negative news would crush these children,” he said.
On Tuesday, Sookdeo said he would take his children to dinner to celebrate the little girl’s birthday.
He said it was difficult and many nights he would cry himself to sleep. But his strength, he said, was in his children.
Sookdeo said the Christmas holidays were difficult for his family as it was a special time for his wife. For the second year there was no Christmas tree or decorations.
Sookdeo is employed as a National Petroleum (NP) plant attendant based at Petrotrin Pointe-a-Pierre.
He was at his workplace when relatives called to say his wife had been kidnapped.
Ria Sookdeo, 34, had dropped off her children at the Picton Presbyterian School and was about to turn her vehicle around when a black Nissan X-Trail sport utility vehicle blocked her pathway.
The school is located a short distance away from Sookdeo’s home at Wellington Road, Debe, where she also operated a hairdressing salon.
Police were told than an unmasked man emerged from the vehicle and dragged Sookdeo out of her red Nissan X-Trail.
Her handbag and cellphone were left behind.
An all-points bulletin was immediately issued and roadblocks set up in several areas, but Sookdeo was not found.
Police called in the National Operations Centre (NOC) Air Division helicopter to assist in the search.
Sookdeo’s relatives and friends were unable to say why she was taken.
Mark Sookdeo said police investigators had stopped calling with updates. But he would occasionally send a message seeking answers. “They would just respond saying nothing new in the case,” he said.
Sookdeo said for months he travelled across the country searching for his wife. And has had many sleepless nights wondering why she was taken.
Sookdeo said his family was told that his wife was spotted alive in Tucupita, Venezuela.
“I don’t know if that is true. I have no information on where Ria is. I still pray that we find her safe and comes home. Her children is missing her, I am missing her,” he said.
A week after the kidnapping, a black Nissan X-Trail was seized at a house in Barrackpore and an ex-policeman detained. But the man was later released and it was determined the vehicle was not used in Sookdeo’s abduction.
Two months after she was taken, Crime Stoppers offered a $50,000 reward for any information that could help in finding Sookdeo.
But 16 months later no one has come forward with information which can assist in finding her.