edge

​Curious as a Catherine

Photos by Mark Lyndersay

Picture courtesy Mark LyndersayMy name is Catherine Emmanuel Rydle and my mother said I turned into a question box at the “young” age of 28.


Last month, my mother, Mary Annette, had a stroke and, unfortunately, she didn’t make it. But she passed away at 3pm, which is the “Hour of Divine Mercy”, an incredible blessing. My brother, ‘Cesco, and I were so close to her. It would pain me to see our mom even mentioned in Trini to the Bone, which I did before she had the stroke — but I want to honour her. So I’m going to ask BC Pires to change everything I said to her to past tense; and even saying that is painful.

I didn’t realise my mother’s first name was Mary until late in life. All her friends called her Annette. We lost Dad, Paul, six years ago. The father in the movie Big Fish was our dad: you never knew if his stories were true. It was hard. But he was in his 80s and I thank God for the time we had him.

People look at me in shock when I say I’m from Bournes Rd. Like, “But you don’t look like a drug dealer!” Like I do that on the side. I was born and lived in St James until I left for university at 17. St James, in the Sixties and Seventies, was all families, barely any businesses. We were two streets up from the Western Main Road, and there was more crime on Upper Bournes Rd.

St James, The City that Never Sleeps, the capital of the capital, was a lovely place to grow up. It was my elder brother Francesco, our mom and dad, our grandmother and her sister, six of us in the house. And my two first-cousins lived across the street, so my childhood was playing. We would form a singing group and perform on the pavement for passersby.

I’m a Holy Name girl all the way, Prep, then Convent. I still talk on WhatsApp with girls from Holy Name, like, every week.
My husband, Mikael, and I got married three years ago, was it? The end of 2016? I’m not that great with dates. As you can tell. It was Christmas time, December 29th. I thank God he knew my dad for two years.

Mikael is Swedish but his mother migrated from Trinidad to Sweden, where she met Mikael’s father. So you have the coming together of the Chinese-Trinidadian and the Swedish. Mikael’s surname is spelled, “Rydle” but it’s pronounced, “Reed-leh”. So people say Ry-dell of course.

I speak French and Spanish but know only a few words of Swedish because I’ve been spoiled. Because I can walk up to anyone in Sweden - a security guard, a pharmacy worker - and say, hi, do you speak English? And every man-Jack says, yes.

I met Mik in 2008, I think, when he came to Trinidad. Mik is very handsome. I mean, REALLY handsome! He said that, with the Chinese/Caucasian mix, people said he looked like Robert Downey, Jnr. I said, “Hear nuh, horse, you don’t look ANYTHING like Robert Downey! And then, a couple o’ times, I kinda caught him out of the corner of my eye and I was, like, “Shit! He looks JUST like Robert Downey!” In Stockholm, people have done a double-take, thinking, “Hey, there’s Robert Downey over there!”

Mik and I got together at midnight on December 31/January 1, 2013 on Pigeon Point. Mik kissed me for the first time with all the fireworks going off and while I had champagne in my eyes.

Mik does a back-and-forth from Sweden to Trinidad. It’s not an easy commute, like Barbados to Trinidad. I was actually heading up to Picture courtesy Mark LyndersaySweden just before the pandemic! But then our beloved cat, Simon, nearly died. He was missing for days and came back crying, barely moving, in such pain! I actually saw his bladder rupture at the vet’s! So I stayed on a little bit longer, to take care of Simon. Can you believe I changed my departure date to March 23rd? And our borders were closed on the 22nd!

We actually don’t even know whose cat Simon is! He came into our yard years ago, a little bag of bones, crying. He had a gash, maggots. He would kinda come and go until he eventually became our cat - although it’s still not right to call him “ours” because his schedule is: sleep all day and roam all night.

Simon will crawl up into strangers’ laps and they’ll fall in love with him. He’s just so personable!

Our first dog was a beautiful German shepherd named Princess and I think we had to either give her away or put her down, because she was so aggressive. But, for years after, our parents told us that Princess was such a good dog that the army wanted her! We were so proud of Princess, being taken into the army!

As kids, we had cats, dogs, pigeons, parrots, turtles, baby chicks, squirrels, thank God no snake, and, once, a turkey, who Dad told us just walked out on us one day - but, then again, it was close to Christmas… All our pets were part of the household, so the chicks never grew up to be Sunday lunch. No one was cooked - except maybe that turkey.

In my 14 years in Canada, living in an apartment, that was the only time I did not have a pet. My French & Spanish degree is from the University of Toronto. I love languages, words. But, oddly, never wanted to work as a translator. I worked for a publishing firm for eight years before getting involved in documentary filmmaking with Frances-Anne Solomon.

Picture courtesy Mark LyndersayWe’re a Catholic family and, as I’ve grown older, I’ve grown more religious. When I was a teen, my mother and I would battle it out! No, I am NOT going to church! Poor woman! I’ve apologised to her, like, 500 times, for how I was back then! I’ve become closer to my faith now.

I think becoming curious was probably just me developing into what I was meant to be: someone very investigative, to understand and learn things - and then share them with people. I have questioned certain things I’ve been told about my faith, so I don’t feel I’m a blind believer, but I don’t think I’ve ever questioned that there is a God.

My mother began calling me a “question box”; and questions are still coming out of the box. I’m a questioner and my mom was the opposite, in that sense, that classic, stoic woman, who “doesn’t need to talk about it”.

Sometimes, I look at teenagers, 15 and 16, today and think, “What are you all eating?” They look like 21! I didn’t look like THAT when I was 15!

We’ve never got our crime under control since the kidnapping started, what, 15 years ago, and the corruption, the lack of honesty that has been happening for so long. And now we have this problem with refugees, I don’t think we have a handle on how to manage it. I thought all these problems would make me love Trinidad less. But it hasn’t.

To me, a Trini is someone who cares a lot about family and friends. We value family and friends much more than material possessions.

If I go to live in Sweden, I know I could come to love it, as a home. But Trinidad will always be my home. I feel like my heart is here. At the same time, I’m worried about the state of the place. And I feel scared, at times.

​Curious as a Catherine

Photos by Mark Lyndersay

Picture courtesy Mark LyndersayMy name is Catherine Emmanuel Rydle and my mother said I turned into a question box at the “young” age of 28.


Last month, my mother, Mary Annette, had a stroke and, unfortunately, she didn’t make it. But she passed away at 3pm, which is the “Hour of Divine Mercy”, an incredible blessing. My brother, ‘Cesco, and I were so close to her. It would pain me to see our mom even mentioned in Trini to the Bone, which I did before she had the stroke — but I want to honour her. So I’m going to ask BC Pires to change everything I said to her to past tense; and even saying that is painful.

I didn’t realise my mother’s first name was Mary until late in life. All her friends called her Annette. We lost Dad, Paul, six years ago. The father in the movie Big Fish was our dad: you never knew if his stories were true. It was hard. But he was in his 80s and I thank God for the time we had him.

People look at me in shock when I say I’m from Bournes Rd. Like, “But you don’t look like a drug dealer!” Like I do that on the side. I was born and lived in St James until I left for university at 17. St James, in the Sixties and Seventies, was all families, barely any businesses. We were two streets up from the Western Main Road, and there was more crime on Upper Bournes Rd.

St James, The City that Never Sleeps, the capital of the capital, was a lovely place to grow up. It was my elder brother Francesco, our mom and dad, our grandmother and her sister, six of us in the house. And my two first-cousins lived across the street, so my childhood was playing. We would form a singing group and perform on the pavement for passersby.

I’m a Holy Name girl all the way, Prep, then Convent. I still talk on WhatsApp with girls from Holy Name, like, every week.
My husband, Mikael, and I got married three years ago, was it? The end of 2016? I’m not that great with dates. As you can tell. It was Christmas time, December 29th. I thank God he knew my dad for two years.

Mikael is Swedish but his mother migrated from Trinidad to Sweden, where she met Mikael’s father. So you have the coming together of the Chinese-Trinidadian and the Swedish. Mikael’s surname is spelled, “Rydle” but it’s pronounced, “Reed-leh”. So people say Ry-dell of course.

I speak French and Spanish but know only a few words of Swedish because I’ve been spoiled. Because I can walk up to anyone in Sweden - a security guard, a pharmacy worker - and say, hi, do you speak English? And every man-Jack says, yes.

I met Mik in 2008, I think, when he came to Trinidad. Mik is very handsome. I mean, REALLY handsome! He said that, with the Chinese/Caucasian mix, people said he looked like Robert Downey, Jnr. I said, “Hear nuh, horse, you don’t look ANYTHING like Robert Downey! And then, a couple o’ times, I kinda caught him out of the corner of my eye and I was, like, “Shit! He looks JUST like Robert Downey!” In Stockholm, people have done a double-take, thinking, “Hey, there’s Robert Downey over there!”

Mik and I got together at midnight on December 31/January 1, 2013 on Pigeon Point. Mik kissed me for the first time with all the fireworks going off and while I had champagne in my eyes.

Mik does a back-and-forth from Sweden to Trinidad. It’s not an easy commute, like Barbados to Trinidad. I was actually heading up to Picture courtesy Mark LyndersaySweden just before the pandemic! But then our beloved cat, Simon, nearly died. He was missing for days and came back crying, barely moving, in such pain! I actually saw his bladder rupture at the vet’s! So I stayed on a little bit longer, to take care of Simon. Can you believe I changed my departure date to March 23rd? And our borders were closed on the 22nd!

We actually don’t even know whose cat Simon is! He came into our yard years ago, a little bag of bones, crying. He had a gash, maggots. He would kinda come and go until he eventually became our cat - although it’s still not right to call him “ours” because his schedule is: sleep all day and roam all night.

Simon will crawl up into strangers’ laps and they’ll fall in love with him. He’s just so personable!

Our first dog was a beautiful German shepherd named Princess and I think we had to either give her away or put her down, because she was so aggressive. But, for years after, our parents told us that Princess was such a good dog that the army wanted her! We were so proud of Princess, being taken into the army!

As kids, we had cats, dogs, pigeons, parrots, turtles, baby chicks, squirrels, thank God no snake, and, once, a turkey, who Dad told us just walked out on us one day - but, then again, it was close to Christmas… All our pets were part of the household, so the chicks never grew up to be Sunday lunch. No one was cooked - except maybe that turkey.

In my 14 years in Canada, living in an apartment, that was the only time I did not have a pet. My French & Spanish degree is from the University of Toronto. I love languages, words. But, oddly, never wanted to work as a translator. I worked for a publishing firm for eight years before getting involved in documentary filmmaking with Frances-Anne Solomon.

Picture courtesy Mark LyndersayWe’re a Catholic family and, as I’ve grown older, I’ve grown more religious. When I was a teen, my mother and I would battle it out! No, I am NOT going to church! Poor woman! I’ve apologised to her, like, 500 times, for how I was back then! I’ve become closer to my faith now.

I think becoming curious was probably just me developing into what I was meant to be: someone very investigative, to understand and learn things - and then share them with people. I have questioned certain things I’ve been told about my faith, so I don’t feel I’m a blind believer, but I don’t think I’ve ever questioned that there is a God.

My mother began calling me a “question box”; and questions are still coming out of the box. I’m a questioner and my mom was the opposite, in that sense, that classic, stoic woman, who “doesn’t need to talk about it”.

Sometimes, I look at teenagers, 15 and 16, today and think, “What are you all eating?” They look like 21! I didn’t look like THAT when I was 15!

We’ve never got our crime under control since the kidnapping started, what, 15 years ago, and the corruption, the lack of honesty that has been happening for so long. And now we have this problem with refugees, I don’t think we have a handle on how to manage it. I thought all these problems would make me love Trinidad less. But it hasn’t.

To me, a Trini is someone who cares a lot about family and friends. We value family and friends much more than material possessions.

If I go to live in Sweden, I know I could come to love it, as a home. But Trinidad will always be my home. I feel like my heart is here. At the same time, I’m worried about the state of the place. And I feel scared, at times.