EASY MAGAZINE: Crafting a life of love
There is always a story behind two people meeting and falling in love. When
Sugar Asher met Judah, he said her spirit drew him to her. The couple
have been together for 19 years and seven months.
“He troubled me first,” Judah said, laughing. “I used to carry shoes to a shoemaker named John, and he saw me and told me that he repairs shoes too. The next time my mother sent me to town I carried the shoes by him. From there we talked and became friends.
“But he found where I lived, and I didn’t tell him. I used to live in Charnocks and one day my son and I came home from karaoke and he told me someone is outside to me.
“When I looked, it was him. He said he came to carry me by him and I told him no. But he insisted and said I would go along with him; and from the time I went by him in Goodland the Sunday, I never went back to my mother’s house.”
When the pair got married in 1997, their friends and family blessed them with clothes and gifts to make the occasion extra special. Asher stated that the Almighty’s workings kept them together for all these years, and that they enjoyed doing everything together, especially travelling.
For the Christmas holiday, the pair visited Grenada. They said they were encouraged to take the trip after a customer told them of her experience at the healing springs and Jab Jab Jouvert festivity.
“There is nothing that doesn’t have ups and downs, but you have to find a way
to make it work,” said Judah.
“Sometimes he would make me miserable, but I don’t pay him any mind.”
Asher spent a lifetime in the local craft industry. He is so renowned for his talent that the National Library Service documented his time in the culture sector. If you happen to go in the Public Library searching for information on leather craft, you would see his story in the archives. He told Easy he felt honoured to be recognised for his craft, and moreso a Rastafarian noted for his contribution to the country.
Sugar Asher and Judah are the Rastafarian names the couple have been bestowed with. Asher is 59 years of age, while Judah is 55.
They have built a successful career in shoe repairs together. Asher is popularly known as the “Shoe Doctor” and the man with a holy staff hailing Jah Selassie I.
Asher always had an entrepreneurship mind frame but he was not channelling the right energy. When he left Parkinson Memorial he sold craft along the beach until the day he was enlightened.
“I left the beach to sell roast corn and nuts. I used to wear Clarks and one day they gave out on me, and I was stressed about getting a new pair. But then the Spirit of God inspired me one night.
“When I woke up the next morning, the Spirit told me to get a scissors, a cardboard box and the stapling machine. I drew out the same shoes
I was wearing, staple them up and went out. That same day I made $80 and I enquired how to buy leather.”
Asher then decided to visit Temple Yard, where someone, amazed at his story, decided to purchase the leather for him, and equipped him with the necessary skills he needed to stand on his own.
“I was 24 at that time and I had an unfortunate accident which kept me in the hospital for a while. When I came out, I decided to stick to the new passion I had, and I also wanted to learn how to repair shoes.
“A man from the St Jude’s neighbourhood I was living in then saw me trying out a thing. He used to encourage me not to stop, and any material I needed he bought for me.
“A year later I took my business to town, and I met an elderly man called Rock. I got better at the trade working for him. He taught me some things and one day an old woman told me I was surpassing my teacher. Every time she and her friends came they said: “I want the Rasta man to do my shoes.”
“They gave me advice on how to branch out on my own, and I took it. The lady told me even if I got a table or a piece of board and put it on top of a can she would come and do business with me and get me more customers . . . . She told me I was that good.”
In three years time Asher had his own little set-up in the Fairchild Street market. He had a stall closer to the wharf until the market was closed for redevelopment.
When the market closed he did not let that stop him from earning a dollar. He opened a bigger stall next to the taxi stand in the area, which became his second home.
He raised his children and his wife’s children in his shoe shop. Asher has a big photo album in his workstation filled with memories of the children growing up into adults. He also has religious graffiti of the great Ethiopian emperor Tafari Makonnen Woldemikel, popularly known as Haile Selassie I, on the walls
of his shop, symbols of the Twelve Tribes of Israel, pictures of Bob Marley and The Organisation of African Unity.
“This is my home away from home,” he said.
“My three daughters and grandchildren and my Judah’s five boys and grandchildren grew up in here. We are a big family, and family is everything to us.”
Behind every great man is a strong woman and the role Judah plays in the business is just as important as her husband’s. She assists him with work, cooks Ital cuisine and gives her support when he needs it most. (SB)