After fighting off death in India and battling through three days of surgery, the high pitch giggles of five-year-old Haleema Mohammed are once again warmed the hearts of her relatives.
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Big Shots Can’t Live without Tenement Guard
My name is Royston Clarke and I am the guard in the hut at the gate of a gated community.
I’m a born Jamaican, Kingston, nuh. But I’m a Jamaican Trini.
I from Kingston 11, where Kartel and Beenie Man-them come from, nuh. I know them personally. I have picture with me and Beenie-Man.
I have a son here, just months old. Him name Okaibon. Is a African name, nuh. Is not me name him, is him grandfather, so I didn’t really get the chance to ask him what that name really mean. But I know it must be some rough-type thing. Africans are fighting people, nuh. Fighting to make it.
My son’ mother here is a Jamaican, too. So is the son who is really the Trini. So he is the real Jamaican Trini; I’s a Trini-Jamaican!
I plan to marry my son’ mother, Tsoyha Watson. She spell her first name so it would be different from all the other rest. Even though it mix me up more to spell it!
When my baby-mother was sick, was me take care of the baby. When they see me up at hospital, looking after the baby, everybody was so surprised. But is just my philosophy from youth growing. If my father turn him back on me, I don’t want my son to feel the same way.
Every kid I get, if it’s ten kid I get, every one of them getting the same thing. If I get a $10,000, ten of them getting a thousand each. I will do without.
I read in the paper a lot of people get turn back at Piarco Airport. I thank God the day I come up, they don’t turn me back!
My mother family is the real Washington, from America, nuh. My grandfather is a Cuban. He have a lot of children so I have plenty cousins, plenty uncles and auntie, plenty fambly.
I didn’t go so far in school. Many time we have to sit back, nuh, not go to school hungry, because we don’t have money. And you is the one have fe get it, nuh. That was how it was set back in them time.
I like listen to Machel Montano but my for-real-favourite, I don’t really get him name. But him sing, “Doctor give me prescription/ A bottle of rum a day”.
Trinidad just copying Jamaican from back in the Eighties and Nineties. But Jamaica is of a totally different flex now. In Jamaica, a girl cannot go in school wearing a uniform above her knee. Here in Trinidad, girls wearing anything short to go to school, boys wearing pants that reach them at them ankle.
Where me grew up, inna the heart of it, is up to you and your mentality. You see what Tom go through, and what ‘Arry go through, so you not go take up gun yourself and go through the same thing. Because Tom mother and father bawl over Tom. Me grow up in an area where me coulda be, but me choose not to be.
The job nice. I have my own bathroom, my own fan, I even got camera watching me. Them a-office see anything wrong on camera, them call me.
I work from 3pm to 5 in the morning. Is a long night. But my tablet have virtually everything ‘pon it. It have Bible, it have game, music, video. But I cannot get Internet. I don’t have them pass yet.
Staying awake is easy. I accustomed to staying awake in my house, bleaching out in the night, listening to hear if anybody beating any fence coming for me. As a youth, back where I’m from, you have to be on the lookout. Is not that you into the war, but a man coming. If him can’t see who him looking for, him want touch you, so now your friend will come after him for touching you, so is like him setting out a bait. And you is the bait!
The best thing about of the job is it not really hard. The bad part is it take me ‘bout two hour to get home.
Some Trinis nice but some real bitter, nuh. Where I live, everybody round me, I just come like a fambly to them.
Trinidad & Tobago mean to me a lovely place to be.
Read a longer version of this feature at www.BCRaw.com