is the first in a series of first-person accounts of survival in Trinidad
in the 1990s.
Max, 36, father of eight. He is a honest and hard working. he hasn’t
missed a day’s work in seven years. With hard-earned money he bought a
house in Morvant. He supports the three persons who live with him and has
never been on the wrong side of the law.
hate my father, I hate my step mother, I hate the man I working for. You
want a happy moment? You know when I laugh plenty? When a worker get
murdered. I have no happy memory of my mother. She died when I was young.
But when I miss my mother I feel I could kill the world.
Christmas time. I don’t think I am happy because I always have to be
working for my children or my brothers. I can’t remember a single happy
day in my life. When I was growing up, it was six of us, two girls and
four boys. My father was working in a supermarket for $25 dollars a week.
My mother used to work ‘a little project.’ I went to school, but three
younger brothers did not. When my mother died I was 13. I had to leave
school to support my brothers and sisters.
was very hard. Nobody gave us anything. I used to earn $14 dollars a week.
My stepmother was very dread. She destroyed everything my mother leave
behind. She wanted me to give my old man all my money. We had no mother we
had a father but did not have a father. My father against all ah we
because of this woman.
grow up in a hasty manner. Nobody could take advantage of me. I alone had
to support myself. I hit the streets, lime party, make a little riot, a
man talk too hard, I might put something on he. I always used to carry two
blade with me. Them days it was against cutlass now is against gun. In
‘88 ten men try to kill me. I take them on. I nearly lose my two fingers
but they get damage too. I plan to kill them. Out here is a place like
this, you could kill someone and get away with it with a good lawyer. The
men come and sign peace. They say they make a mistake. I was the wrong
man. But justice did come. One get he belly cut out and others get jail
for marijuana weed and cocaine.
protect we? We protect we. In high society area, police does patrol. When
you drive into your yard, we walk the streets. We have to look over our
shoulder and say, ‘whose that shadow? What you doing there boy?’ I
work in a bakery for 11 years and I get a little cool. I remember mammy
always used to say ‘save your money,’ and I take that advice. I save
up $25,000 to buy a house. I was under 20 years-I went to a bank on St
Vincent Street. They tell me bring all the money in one bank so I could
get a loan. I did that. First thing the teller say is “How a little man
like you get all that money? Like
if I thief it somewhere. I could have knocked he down. I take all my money
out and leave.
whole area is bandit area... In every family of six, two must be bandit.
Most of them used to work project but they ain’t getting any more jobs.
Six children living in one little room - no room to breather or move - no
man to support the home, and the mother alone working, leaving the
children home by them self. The boys say ‘Mammy ain’t have nothing and
if we have one bread that can’t share. If I could go down the road, hold
up a man and get money for food, you think I go wok 72 hours for 150
dollars a week?
cocaine and weed for them. Most of the young men, the ones I bathe and
grow up as children, in jail. One kill a pardner - cut him up - over a
woman. Everybody by me carry guns and cutlass. Some of them is only nine
years old. I carry the iron and the pump. The baddest fella in our area is
16. Anytime you see he coming at you, you will have to kill he or he will
could name endless men who could blow you away just because they feel you
have some money. We living on the edge. Remember the fella who kill the
child? I sure he didn’t want to kill the child but some trigger go off
in him and the child was in front of him and he do it. I grow up with my
brother and he pull a knife on me. If we could get on so with we own
brother, who is a stranger?
used to be religious. Not any more. It was a white man religion. The only
religion for we is the Shouter Baptist. Nobody wants us to find we roots,
because if we do, we will rise, and they don’t want that.
advice to my children is ‘You have to take money from the man who have
it, either with a gun or wok. In my time it is wok, but in their time it
will be the gun. And don’t take no from nobody. Anybody who trouble you,
put them on the ground.’ But my madam not violent like me. She makes
sure my son studies. He always come first in test. He is only seven but
nobody must be better than he.
little brother don’t keep a job, he is ignorant. He comes from a group
that blames society for downfall, but society is to blame. Take my stupid
advice - if we don’t watch we self, we are going to have a coup again.
It building up again. Instead of giving to charity, treat people with
respect. Pay your workers more. If you paying a man $150 a week and we
only see you driving new car, what we supposed to think? A man who work
for you help you get profits.
suffering. This is why we have raping and killing, why family kill family,
brother kill brother. The bosses must make sure workers get a raise. And
time off, so a mother can still talk to she children instead of saying
‘Mammy going to sleep.’ And a father could see about his children. You
could give a child schooling but you can’t give him love because you
don’t have the time. And when he becomes a big bandit, you go ask “how
we went wrong?” I used to eat chicken neck and bones, but I want more
for my children. Allow us to work for decent money. If you respect the
workers, the workers will respect you. You must give back to society.
Otherwise men will believe ‘We ain’t working too hard and anything,
what we want, we take.’
am straightforward, I provide for my family. I don’t believe in a little
lie to save yourself. I don’t lie. And I don’t thief, and my brother
will always be my brother. But I have no heart left.”