Local Lives

Remembering Bheem Singh

Bheem was always kind to strangers but he doted on his children and their children. Photo by Mark Lyndersay.

Bheem Singh died on November 09 and was buried on November 12 in a quiet ceremony at St Mary's Church in St James.
In one of those curious turns that makes Trinidad and Tobago such a unique and intriguing nation, the man who returned Divali, a Hindu festival to St James with a street display outside his home at Ethel Street, was buried under Christian rites.

Bheem Singh was always kind and generous to me and his tireless patience with my efforts to photograph his work for the festival, so he was, after a fashion, the first of my Local Lives subjects.
I first photographed the work he was doing with his sons on Ethel Street for The Wire, but the photos weren't published. When I came by to apologise for wasting his time, he berated me instead for not visiting on Divali night to share in the food his family generously served to anyone who visited their home.

This year, neither Bheem nor I were at the family's celebrations. He was in hospital while the family bravely carried on with the celebrations and I was was in New York, having carelessly failed to factor in the overlap with my travel.
He was a generous, kind and cheerful man, a great neighbour in St James. He will be missed, particularly when the lights of the deyas are lit each year.

I've finally posted the last three of the published
Local Lives essays, including A Light in the West.