Weaving a new life

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Having lost his job last year due to the pandemic, for Anthony Fernandes, 65, weaving chair seats and other furniture, is now his only bread and butter. NT BUZZ gets his story

RAMANDEEP KAUR | NT BUZZ

The pandemic has affected all of us in some way or another, including our jobs. While some have got back to work, some are still jobless and one such person is Anthony Fernandes. The 65-year-old was working in the hotel line but lost his job during the lockdown. And now to earn his livelihood and support his family, he has started weaving chair seats and sofas.

Fernandes, who is a 10th pass, has not learned this art. Years ago however, he saw someone doing this kind of weaving work and he came home and practiced it on his own wooden chair. 28 years down the line, he still has the chair and it is in a really good condition.

And so now, he with the help of his wife and daughter do weaving of any wooden items be it sofas, rocking chairs, dining tables, and arm chairs.

“I get orders from restaurants for chairs and people from Dona Paula, Taleigao, Panaji, Sangolda, Vagator, Mandrem, and Mapusa also give me orders. I give them reasonable rates because they have to come all the way to my place with the pieces,” says Fernandes from Naika Vaddo, Calangute, who suffers from slip disc and knee problems, and thus can’t go on house visits.

In fact, he says, people from Cuncolim, Divar, and Vasco also want to come but he tells them to go to someone nearer to them since it will become expensive for them.

He also adds that by God’s grace his work is going good. “It is going the way God wants it, as things don’t work the way we want them to be,” he says. Like any business there are ups and downs as some people find his work expensive.

“I have to buy plastic cane and then spend a day or days working on it; so it is not an easy task. The time spent on the work depends on the size of the wooden item; if it is a normal chair seat it can be done in one day. For this I charge about `400 to `450, and if it’s a rocking chair it is for `800. So prices vary on the size of the items,” he says, adding that while a few customers suggest the kind of designs they want, others ask for any design of Fernandes’ choice. 

Fernandes also states that despite these pieces being old furniture, people do not want to discard them. “There was someone from Mapusa who came to me for weaving work for a piece of furniture that they wanted to keep  as remembrance of their mother-in-law,” he recalls. Some customers also get work done with him and then take the furniture to Mumbai.

And though Fernandes suffers from health issues, his enthusiasm for his work has not dimmed. In fact, he says, he is not shy to do any work and is still looking for supplementary work. “I am doing this work because I have no other source of income. When I was in the hotel line I used to get a fixed salary every month. However, now my daily expenses depend on how many customers I get,” says Fernandes, adding that as God has given him this skill he can expand it further, but it is only possible with the support of people.