edge

Whither for Leather

Pictures courtesy Mark Lyndersay

Picture courtesy Mark Lyndersay

My name is Kelvin Roberts and I am the man at the counter of a leather repair shop.

I was born in Carenage but grew up in Port of Spain. Boy days in Gonzales, Belmont, was kind of rough. It’s a “hot spot” area. But, most of the days I had there were good, because of my dad.We’re still close. He’s retired now and he comes into the shop almost every day to visit. I had about five other guys in the area used to lime. Cool guys, who never got in trouble. I left Gonzales when I started to work at age 18.

My stepdaughter’s name is Celine Singh. My big son is Josiah Roberts, 11, my other son is Joshua Roberts, seven years. And I have a next daughter, Caithlyn Roberts, six.My wife is Rajpatie Rampharay – but we call her Ria. My wife is Indian, so I never even thought we would be together.

I met Ria when I had now started working at York Garments and I was having lunch on my own, because I was new. She asked if she could have lunch with me. I said, no problem. It was a big table. We started talking over lunch. Then we started walking up to the Main Road and it was a long stretch so we talked plenty. We’re four years married now but we’ve been together for 19, 20 years.

I was never tempted by easy money. I lived in the middle of the street and the drug block was at the end of the street. Next end was a mosque – although it probably wasn’t even there until my teens, when they refurbished a house.

I grew up in the Catholic church, was an altar-boy and served Mass in Gonzales RC church and all, but I’m a Christian now. I go to a Pentecostal church. I am confident in my faith and do believe there is a God.

God put us here to run things on the Earth and, of course, we’re doing a poor job of it. But we can’t blame God for that. And he can’t just come in and intervene, just so.

Everyone would eventually come to God. Different ways for different people but, trust me, they would get there. Different things happen to different people at a certain point in their lives and then they realise.

I went to South East Secondary. That was a crazy school. One of the guys in my class fell out with some guys a day, so he called his big brother. And his big brother came down with a next guy – and they had a firearm on them. Thank God, nothing didn’t take place. The guys had gone down the road already.

One time, the last day of school, a class below us mashed up the whole boys’ toilet. Toilet tank, everything. Thank God it was the close of school, so they had time to fix it before we came back. That school was crazy but my own school experience was good.

My class was four boys and about 23 girls. So the majority of the boys in school used to come to our class.

I may look like I play sports but I don’t. I never even took part in watching sport. [If I look fit, it’s through] Hard work! I wash the children clothes with my hands and do a little exercise but that’s about it: no gym, nothing like that.

I don’t even know the rules of the game, cricket, nor basketball, nor any game! The only way I might watch sport is if we hanging by one of the guys, I’ll watch with them. But to follow a sport or club? Nah!

Once, a customer got angry with me because I had on a jersey my brother bring for me from Canada, ‘cause he travels – I didn’t even know it was a hockey jersey! She came in the store and see the jersey and say, “You hear what happen with him in the game?” The woman get upset because, I wearing the jersey, but I ent know nothing ‘bout the sport!

Some of the guys I grew up with used to bounce ball in the back of Gonzales primary school. Some of the characters up there used to run us off the court and want to fight. I stopped going up there around nine, ten [years old]. But they continued, because they lived right there. So they used to time the guys when they leave. Sometimes they come out and bounce ball in the night! At that time, they didn’t have lights in the schoolyard – so they used to be shooting hoops in the dark!

Violence and guns does change your life. To the point where you have to shoot hoops in the dark.

I listen to a little bit of clean hip hop – I don’t like the obscenities in most hip hop.

I don’t listen to the nonsense music coming out at Carnival and I try not to play it in my home but you can’t get away from it! My daughter goes to Newtown Girls and she came home one time singing, “I feeling hot” and I say, “Eh-eh-eh-eh! Sing a gospel!” She hear the other children at school singing it.

Picture courtesy Mark LyndersayNobody don’t sing anything any more that have meaning to it.

Every day you hear, like, three-four murders.We could curb some of the crime but you have to start with the leaders. And some of the people at the top, it’s been said, is corrupted. I spoke to some of the guys who in the thing and they told me that some of the guns come in with the drugs, to protect it; and then, after the drugs go to other countries, the drugs remain here.

In one village, a guy told me, “All around this whole place, it have guns buried.” Every young man you see have access to a gun. They just don’t walk with it on them. Reality.

I watched one of the locally-made movies about guns, way back when, and I didn’t like it. It had a little message in it, yes, but still, to me, it come like you promoting violence. Showing a set of nonsense. But then, they probably portraying what they actually seeing, things that actually going on.

I don’t do any leatherwork myself because I’m so busy in front, writing up the bills, giving out shoes, handling the money, locating stuff. Final touching up before repairs go out, polishing the shoes, burning the little loose threads on the bags and thing.

We open Monday-Friday, 7am-7pm, and Saturday, 8am to about 5pm nowadays, because things got kind of slow, and I’m in the store whole day. The only time I leave is 4 o’clock to go and pick up my wife and the children, drop them home and come back. Traffic is killing, too.

You get troublesome customers sometimes because is human beings you dealing with; some actually come and tell you, “Yeah, I’s trouble, you know.” Some of them come smiling and you doesn’t find out until after that they’s trouble. When I now started out, I used to get angry.Now, I just try to be patient and deal with them accordingly.

The best part of the job is meeting different people and we meet all kinds in a repair shop. Everybody have to fix they shoe. The bad part is losing the time with the family.

It have something on TV called, “Taxicab Confession.” Some people come in the shop and pour out they whole life story to you. Some people don’t want no advice or nothing, they just want to be heard.

My brothers travel and they tell me stories but I have no desire to leave Trinidad. I have a cousin in England who fed-up inviting me over. But I never got the zeal to go anywhere. Not at this stage of my life. Maybe when the children get a little older.

Really and truly, the wealth in the country isn’t shared. Things don’t trickle down enough. Like, for years, up to now, I’ve been waiting for a government house. I pay a very high rent that could have been going towards paying a mortgage. A guy put out a video last year of a set of government houses actually falling apart because nobody living in them – that bothers me! If not me, you could be helping out a lot of others.

I don’t have any kind of political argument with anybody. I notice that, some people, no matter what the party they like do, they never see the wrong that they do. So, years ago, I stopped having that kind of discussion with people. They can’t be unbiased.

A Trini is a fun person who could go to any part of the world and fit in. We are a caring, sharing people, to my mind.

Trinidad & Tobago is the land of my birth and I love my country. I never travelled but, what I see online, we have a lot of freedom here that you don’t have in other countries. You could pray to who you want and nobody kills you or lights you afire for it. I love Trinidad.

Whither for Leather

Pictures courtesy Mark Lyndersay

Picture courtesy Mark Lyndersay

My name is Kelvin Roberts and I am the man at the counter of a leather repair shop.

I was born in Carenage but grew up in Port of Spain. Boy days in Gonzales, Belmont, was kind of rough. It’s a “hot spot” area. But, most of the days I had there were good, because of my dad.We’re still close. He’s retired now and he comes into the shop almost every day to visit. I had about five other guys in the area used to lime. Cool guys, who never got in trouble. I left Gonzales when I started to work at age 18.

My stepdaughter’s name is Celine Singh. My big son is Josiah Roberts, 11, my other son is Joshua Roberts, seven years. And I have a next daughter, Caithlyn Roberts, six.My wife is Rajpatie Rampharay – but we call her Ria. My wife is Indian, so I never even thought we would be together.

I met Ria when I had now started working at York Garments and I was having lunch on my own, because I was new. She asked if she could have lunch with me. I said, no problem. It was a big table. We started talking over lunch. Then we started walking up to the Main Road and it was a long stretch so we talked plenty. We’re four years married now but we’ve been together for 19, 20 years.

I was never tempted by easy money. I lived in the middle of the street and the drug block was at the end of the street. Next end was a mosque – although it probably wasn’t even there until my teens, when they refurbished a house.

I grew up in the Catholic church, was an altar-boy and served Mass in Gonzales RC church and all, but I’m a Christian now. I go to a Pentecostal church. I am confident in my faith and do believe there is a God.

God put us here to run things on the Earth and, of course, we’re doing a poor job of it. But we can’t blame God for that. And he can’t just come in and intervene, just so.

Everyone would eventually come to God. Different ways for different people but, trust me, they would get there. Different things happen to different people at a certain point in their lives and then they realise.

I went to South East Secondary. That was a crazy school. One of the guys in my class fell out with some guys a day, so he called his big brother. And his big brother came down with a next guy – and they had a firearm on them. Thank God, nothing didn’t take place. The guys had gone down the road already.

One time, the last day of school, a class below us mashed up the whole boys’ toilet. Toilet tank, everything. Thank God it was the close of school, so they had time to fix it before we came back. That school was crazy but my own school experience was good.

My class was four boys and about 23 girls. So the majority of the boys in school used to come to our class.

I may look like I play sports but I don’t. I never even took part in watching sport. [If I look fit, it’s through] Hard work! I wash the children clothes with my hands and do a little exercise but that’s about it: no gym, nothing like that.

I don’t even know the rules of the game, cricket, nor basketball, nor any game! The only way I might watch sport is if we hanging by one of the guys, I’ll watch with them. But to follow a sport or club? Nah!

Once, a customer got angry with me because I had on a jersey my brother bring for me from Canada, ‘cause he travels – I didn’t even know it was a hockey jersey! She came in the store and see the jersey and say, “You hear what happen with him in the game?” The woman get upset because, I wearing the jersey, but I ent know nothing ‘bout the sport!

Some of the guys I grew up with used to bounce ball in the back of Gonzales primary school. Some of the characters up there used to run us off the court and want to fight. I stopped going up there around nine, ten [years old]. But they continued, because they lived right there. So they used to time the guys when they leave. Sometimes they come out and bounce ball in the night! At that time, they didn’t have lights in the schoolyard – so they used to be shooting hoops in the dark!

Violence and guns does change your life. To the point where you have to shoot hoops in the dark.

I listen to a little bit of clean hip hop – I don’t like the obscenities in most hip hop.

I don’t listen to the nonsense music coming out at Carnival and I try not to play it in my home but you can’t get away from it! My daughter goes to Newtown Girls and she came home one time singing, “I feeling hot” and I say, “Eh-eh-eh-eh! Sing a gospel!” She hear the other children at school singing it.

Picture courtesy Mark LyndersayNobody don’t sing anything any more that have meaning to it.

Every day you hear, like, three-four murders.We could curb some of the crime but you have to start with the leaders. And some of the people at the top, it’s been said, is corrupted. I spoke to some of the guys who in the thing and they told me that some of the guns come in with the drugs, to protect it; and then, after the drugs go to other countries, the drugs remain here.

In one village, a guy told me, “All around this whole place, it have guns buried.” Every young man you see have access to a gun. They just don’t walk with it on them. Reality.

I watched one of the locally-made movies about guns, way back when, and I didn’t like it. It had a little message in it, yes, but still, to me, it come like you promoting violence. Showing a set of nonsense. But then, they probably portraying what they actually seeing, things that actually going on.

I don’t do any leatherwork myself because I’m so busy in front, writing up the bills, giving out shoes, handling the money, locating stuff. Final touching up before repairs go out, polishing the shoes, burning the little loose threads on the bags and thing.

We open Monday-Friday, 7am-7pm, and Saturday, 8am to about 5pm nowadays, because things got kind of slow, and I’m in the store whole day. The only time I leave is 4 o’clock to go and pick up my wife and the children, drop them home and come back. Traffic is killing, too.

You get troublesome customers sometimes because is human beings you dealing with; some actually come and tell you, “Yeah, I’s trouble, you know.” Some of them come smiling and you doesn’t find out until after that they’s trouble. When I now started out, I used to get angry.Now, I just try to be patient and deal with them accordingly.

The best part of the job is meeting different people and we meet all kinds in a repair shop. Everybody have to fix they shoe. The bad part is losing the time with the family.

It have something on TV called, “Taxicab Confession.” Some people come in the shop and pour out they whole life story to you. Some people don’t want no advice or nothing, they just want to be heard.

My brothers travel and they tell me stories but I have no desire to leave Trinidad. I have a cousin in England who fed-up inviting me over. But I never got the zeal to go anywhere. Not at this stage of my life. Maybe when the children get a little older.

Really and truly, the wealth in the country isn’t shared. Things don’t trickle down enough. Like, for years, up to now, I’ve been waiting for a government house. I pay a very high rent that could have been going towards paying a mortgage. A guy put out a video last year of a set of government houses actually falling apart because nobody living in them – that bothers me! If not me, you could be helping out a lot of others.

I don’t have any kind of political argument with anybody. I notice that, some people, no matter what the party they like do, they never see the wrong that they do. So, years ago, I stopped having that kind of discussion with people. They can’t be unbiased.

A Trini is a fun person who could go to any part of the world and fit in. We are a caring, sharing people, to my mind.

Trinidad & Tobago is the land of my birth and I love my country. I never travelled but, what I see online, we have a lot of freedom here that you don’t have in other countries. You could pray to who you want and nobody kills you or lights you afire for it. I love Trinidad.