Ipoh cobbler lives in tiny booth where he operates following his wife's passing

Osman Sidek's repair booth now doubles up as his home. — Picture by Farhan Najib
Osman Sidek's repair booth now doubles up as his home. — Picture by Farhan Najib

IPOH, Sept 17 — Cobbler Osman Sidek has operated from the corner of Jalan Sultan Nazrin Shah and Jalan Rapat Jaya in front of Megoplex for over a decade.

For the past month however, the tiny booth has also doubled up as his home.

According to the 62-year-old, he decided to stay in the 1.8 metres by 1.2 metres custom made booth following the death of his wife Suhaila Shamsuddin in July.

“We have no children so what is the need for me to keep a house?” asked Osman.

Speaking to Malay Mail, he said the booth was constructed using money donated by well-wishers.

“My wife got very sick 10 months before her death and I spent all my savings to get necessities used by her such as adult diapers.”

After her passing, Osman appealed for funds to construct a new booth to replace the run down unit.

“I managed to collect RM3,050 and RM3,040 was used to make the booth.”

The booth now doubles up as his home with all his belongings kept in boxes.

“One box is for my clothes, another is for my tools while another is to keep other personal belongings.”

Bigger items such as furniture and electrical appliances had been donated to the needy.

Osman, who hails from Selayang, Selangor, said a businessman did offer a room for him to stay not far from his booth.

“But I prefer to stay in my booth.”

He, however, cleans himself at the businessman's place and also to pray.

Revealing his daily routine, Osman said he starts his day at about 5am.

Cobbler Osman Sidek says he needs only 30 minutes to repair a pair of shoes and he charges between RM10 and RM20 for repair work. — Farhan Najib
Cobbler Osman Sidek says he needs only 30 minutes to repair a pair of shoes and he charges between RM10 and RM20 for repair work. — Farhan Najib

“After I am done showering and praying, I will go for my breakfast at a nearby eatery.

“And by 7.30am, my booth will be opened for business.”

Osman said he charges between RM10 and RM20 to repair a pair of shoes. He charges more if the repair involves more work.

“I can complete a repair in 30 minutes. That is why I am known as a speedy repairer,” quipped Osman, who learned the trade from his father 47 years ago.

He said he first operated in Selangor before moving to Perak.

“My wife suggested we move to Perak as we stayed in Selangor for some time.”

“Initially we stayed at my wife's kampung in Tapah but there was not much business there. That is when we decided to move to Ipoh.”

Prior to Suhaila's passing, Osman operated only six days a week.

Now, he’s open daily, except on alternate Sundays where he only opens after lunch after he visits his wife's grave in Tapah in the morning.

“I need to work hard as I am saving up money to beautify my wife's grave.”

Asked how long he plans to stay in the booth, Osman said he does not know.

“As long as I am able to continue with my business, I will stay here. Alhamdullilah, I am still healthy.”