edge

​Mother-in-law Without Pepper

My name is Loretta Sorillo-Cuffy and I work in an airport newsstand.

I’ve spent most of my life, like, 30 years, in the East, in Arima/Sangre Grande. But I’m really a South girl. At least according to Scrunter. You know he has this song, with “the oil in the coil”? Born in San Fernando, spent most of my time in Rancho Quemado.

It is a fact: South women do cook really, really good. And, when it comes to keeping any family thing, I’m the one to cook.

I came from a big family. My mother is, like, 12 of them – and Mummy had five of us! And I have a big family myself! My oldest child, Crystal, is 30, my second, Simone, is 29, then Desiree is 23, Desford is19 and Denzil is 17.

I have five grands and three son-in-laws and I think I’m one of the best mother-in-law there is. Because my son-in-law and them rather lime with me than they wife!

I do physical therapy, and most of my patients are diabetic, but business has been slow. So the newsstand is, like, a sideline, to make sure something extra is coming in. Because the kids are grown up, and my last ones are in Canada.

In my lifetime, I’ve realised there’s a lot of people who don’t know a lot. Didn’t know how to love themselves. There’s a lot of people with a lot of self-hate. [In Trinidad, there has been] a lot of abuse and those people don’t know who to turn to. Sometimes, the same person you’re trying to tell about your abuse will turn and do exactly what you’ve been through!

I’ve learned to foster a great relationship with my children, my grandkids and my son-in-laws. Most men call their mother-in-law, “monster-in-law” but, if I ask mine to do anything for me, they do it.

I try not to get into my children’s marriages and their lives but, if they want advice on something, and they come to me and, like, “Moms, so-so-so,” I would be like, “You were wrong!” I just tell them straight. Children understand straight up-ness when you deal with them. We take things for granted that they don’t, but children really do understand things!

Is plain talk really bad manners? Or is it just that we don’t like the idea of [our children] talking to us honestly? “Oh, you’re too small to really tell me that I’m doing crap with my life right about now!”

I’m a good mother. But I cuss a lot.

You see it happen a lot: down the road, the children say, “But, Mammy, why you didn’t leave?” A lot of the time, it’s what you had to choose from and you made the best decision you could at that time. For me, is more like broken pieces getting put back together, a level of resilience. Your kids will say, “Oh, Mum, you’re so strong!” I don’t think I did that bad!

Johnny Depp made this statement: when you make mistakes, you can learn from them. So I think I’m going to make more mistakes and learn more! But that is “more mistakes” with a question mark at the end!

When it comes to Trinidad right about now, I’ve curbed a lot of what I used to do, because you just don’t feel safe! You get this eerie, “You didn’t hear so-and-so died? And you’re like, “How?” And, if is not car accident, they were shot. Just the idea of leaving one point to go to a next point, you’re not sure if you’re going to reach back home safely. So what we do now, on the way home, we buy something to eat and we enjoy it at home.

Is the crime rate out of control? Yes, it is! Anything could happen, anytime, anywhere. That’s how “iffy” it is right about now. It’s even kind of iffy at home. Yes, you have the cameras and the whole place burglar-proofed – it gives you a false sense of security. I live in a relatively safe part of Sangre Grande but I’m sorry to say I don’t even want my son and them to come back to Trinidad! Listen to me: if you think Canada is hard, it will make you a stronger person over there. Trinidad right now is really, really hard.

If ever you see me in the Hyatt, don’t think I got money. It’s because I think I deserve to spend $68 behind one of those punch!

We have nothing in place for the youth now. When I was growing up, we had the Youth Camp, you coulda learned a trade. Not all of us are academically inclined. I went Curepe Junior Sec and it had woodwork, drafting, metalwork, home economics. They don’t have metalwork and woodwork any more! You have to go [elsewhere] to learn that now!

Nothing in the world will affect your brain as music does and that’s a scientific fact! I love music, I love pan, calypso, reggae. I love my Baron, I love my Sparrow, I love my Scrunter, my Shadow. Music does make me real happy and, the thing about music, because it affect the entire part of your brain, it takes you back to the good, the bad and the difference in your life.

We don’t give good service in Trinidad. We want a job, but we’re not service-oriented!

I was telling my daughters, when I went to school, I used the same textbooks – Nelson English Reader, Junior English Revised, Student Companion - from my bigger sister, who is way older than I am. Because your brother and sister was using the same book, it was passed on. Now we’re using different books but getting the same tests! I can’t understand that part of the education system!

I also do charity work and I run as much five-K races as I possibly could do! I like the beach but I can’t swim nor float. But I just like the idea of the beach. Because it’s economical. I like doing doing craft, too.

I love to read. I’ll read anything!

I can look at people’s homes, at the interior decorating and see, “If they only move that over there, it will look so much better! It would look so, ‘Wow!’” I have that in me. I could fix people house better. Which is a wrong thing. So I learn to mind my business along the way. I speak a lot to myself, which is good.

The best part of my job is I make people happy. You tell foreigners what they could do and give them part of Trinidad and they go back with part of us. They like we vibes! They come and show us how much of good things we have in this country! The bad part could be the hours – sometimes we start at, like, 4,30am, but we make it. I rather the evening shift.

We need to get our act together in this country. I wouldn’t go into our politics – that would be wasting time right about now – but we need to be good to each other. Be good to people and the good does always come back, no matter what. I’ve seen it happen in my life.

You do one little act of goodness for somebody and you will even forget you did it – but they remember it forever. Really? I did so-and-so? And that did that?

For me, a Trini is a good, charitable person, hospitable person who would go out of their way to help you.

Trinidad & Tobago means to me, that, whenever I go abroad, I can’t wait to get back! Until we go away, we don’t know how much freedom we have here. Free education, free healthcare and we not really making ourselves better citizens from those things.

​Mother-in-law Without Pepper

My name is Loretta Sorillo-Cuffy and I work in an airport newsstand.

I’ve spent most of my life, like, 30 years, in the East, in Arima/Sangre Grande. But I’m really a South girl. At least according to Scrunter. You know he has this song, with “the oil in the coil”? Born in San Fernando, spent most of my time in Rancho Quemado.

It is a fact: South women do cook really, really good. And, when it comes to keeping any family thing, I’m the one to cook.

I came from a big family. My mother is, like, 12 of them – and Mummy had five of us! And I have a big family myself! My oldest child, Crystal, is 30, my second, Simone, is 29, then Desiree is 23, Desford is19 and Denzil is 17.

I have five grands and three son-in-laws and I think I’m one of the best mother-in-law there is. Because my son-in-law and them rather lime with me than they wife!

I do physical therapy, and most of my patients are diabetic, but business has been slow. So the newsstand is, like, a sideline, to make sure something extra is coming in. Because the kids are grown up, and my last ones are in Canada.

In my lifetime, I’ve realised there’s a lot of people who don’t know a lot. Didn’t know how to love themselves. There’s a lot of people with a lot of self-hate. [In Trinidad, there has been] a lot of abuse and those people don’t know who to turn to. Sometimes, the same person you’re trying to tell about your abuse will turn and do exactly what you’ve been through!

I’ve learned to foster a great relationship with my children, my grandkids and my son-in-laws. Most men call their mother-in-law, “monster-in-law” but, if I ask mine to do anything for me, they do it.

I try not to get into my children’s marriages and their lives but, if they want advice on something, and they come to me and, like, “Moms, so-so-so,” I would be like, “You were wrong!” I just tell them straight. Children understand straight up-ness when you deal with them. We take things for granted that they don’t, but children really do understand things!

Is plain talk really bad manners? Or is it just that we don’t like the idea of [our children] talking to us honestly? “Oh, you’re too small to really tell me that I’m doing crap with my life right about now!”

I’m a good mother. But I cuss a lot.

You see it happen a lot: down the road, the children say, “But, Mammy, why you didn’t leave?” A lot of the time, it’s what you had to choose from and you made the best decision you could at that time. For me, is more like broken pieces getting put back together, a level of resilience. Your kids will say, “Oh, Mum, you’re so strong!” I don’t think I did that bad!

Johnny Depp made this statement: when you make mistakes, you can learn from them. So I think I’m going to make more mistakes and learn more! But that is “more mistakes” with a question mark at the end!

When it comes to Trinidad right about now, I’ve curbed a lot of what I used to do, because you just don’t feel safe! You get this eerie, “You didn’t hear so-and-so died? And you’re like, “How?” And, if is not car accident, they were shot. Just the idea of leaving one point to go to a next point, you’re not sure if you’re going to reach back home safely. So what we do now, on the way home, we buy something to eat and we enjoy it at home.

Is the crime rate out of control? Yes, it is! Anything could happen, anytime, anywhere. That’s how “iffy” it is right about now. It’s even kind of iffy at home. Yes, you have the cameras and the whole place burglar-proofed – it gives you a false sense of security. I live in a relatively safe part of Sangre Grande but I’m sorry to say I don’t even want my son and them to come back to Trinidad! Listen to me: if you think Canada is hard, it will make you a stronger person over there. Trinidad right now is really, really hard.

If ever you see me in the Hyatt, don’t think I got money. It’s because I think I deserve to spend $68 behind one of those punch!

We have nothing in place for the youth now. When I was growing up, we had the Youth Camp, you coulda learned a trade. Not all of us are academically inclined. I went Curepe Junior Sec and it had woodwork, drafting, metalwork, home economics. They don’t have metalwork and woodwork any more! You have to go [elsewhere] to learn that now!

Nothing in the world will affect your brain as music does and that’s a scientific fact! I love music, I love pan, calypso, reggae. I love my Baron, I love my Sparrow, I love my Scrunter, my Shadow. Music does make me real happy and, the thing about music, because it affect the entire part of your brain, it takes you back to the good, the bad and the difference in your life.

We don’t give good service in Trinidad. We want a job, but we’re not service-oriented!

I was telling my daughters, when I went to school, I used the same textbooks – Nelson English Reader, Junior English Revised, Student Companion - from my bigger sister, who is way older than I am. Because your brother and sister was using the same book, it was passed on. Now we’re using different books but getting the same tests! I can’t understand that part of the education system!

I also do charity work and I run as much five-K races as I possibly could do! I like the beach but I can’t swim nor float. But I just like the idea of the beach. Because it’s economical. I like doing doing craft, too.

I love to read. I’ll read anything!

I can look at people’s homes, at the interior decorating and see, “If they only move that over there, it will look so much better! It would look so, ‘Wow!’” I have that in me. I could fix people house better. Which is a wrong thing. So I learn to mind my business along the way. I speak a lot to myself, which is good.

The best part of my job is I make people happy. You tell foreigners what they could do and give them part of Trinidad and they go back with part of us. They like we vibes! They come and show us how much of good things we have in this country! The bad part could be the hours – sometimes we start at, like, 4,30am, but we make it. I rather the evening shift.

We need to get our act together in this country. I wouldn’t go into our politics – that would be wasting time right about now – but we need to be good to each other. Be good to people and the good does always come back, no matter what. I’ve seen it happen in my life.

You do one little act of goodness for somebody and you will even forget you did it – but they remember it forever. Really? I did so-and-so? And that did that?

For me, a Trini is a good, charitable person, hospitable person who would go out of their way to help you.

Trinidad & Tobago means to me, that, whenever I go abroad, I can’t wait to get back! Until we go away, we don’t know how much freedom we have here. Free education, free healthcare and we not really making ourselves better citizens from those things.