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Call me Mamma

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Growing up as kids de Edwards’ yard was way we gathered to pitch marbles until Mamma reach home from Market way she did her vending. She was strict and didn’t talk twice, ah figure she was de only woman in de Village dat everybody dread de most. Even today her children and all ah we come man and woman,we still dread Mamma’s voice. By strange contrast, everybody adored “Pappy”, her husband. Pappy was soft and would allow us to play and mek as much noise as we wanted in de yard; but when yuh see Mamma reach home, tired from standing, vending her vegetables, she wanted her rest; all she would say: “Time foh all man find dey station, ah wants no noise in my head”! Wid dat all play end till de following day when she gone Market”!{{more}} But buried deep down under all ah dat aggression and hardtalk, was ah heart as soft as corn-porridge. Ah remember when my Grandfather died, when everybody kept dey distance, Mamma came and slept wid us every night foh three months. Ah cherished dat period ah me life because we were only ah family of three, and apart from de need foh good company, ah did fraid Jumbie.

Over de years my dread foh Mamma turn into respect and love. So ah few weeks ago when my eleven year ole son reported dat a lady called and said her name was Mamma and she wanted to see me early tomorrow morning, and don’t forget to come. Ah didn’t have to wonder which Mamma he meant, as dey’s only one Mamma who would dare speak wid so much authority. Bright and early ah called and she said: “Yuh can’t come today, I expect a visitor coming to see me, come tomorrow”.

By eight-o-clock next morning ah was at her door, she greeted me with her usual bit ah sarcasm, “Ah will have to chalk yo feet”. We chatted and den she broke dey story, she wanted a new ID but she does not intend to go in any long line to wait all evening. “I am too ole foh dat,” she said. Straight away ah called foh de Supervisor ah Election, my ole friend Sylvia Findlay-Scrubb. De Electoral Office is on de ball, as Findlay-Scrubb told me dat dey will be doing house calls foh “shut-ins” in September and dey will visit. Mamma, who is sharp and alert, picked up between our conversations. I gave dem her address and telephone number and told Mamma dey will visit. “Find out when dey coming”, she said, “and tell de Officer dey must give me notice because I want to look good in my photo”. I delivered her message and Findlay-Scrubb asked how ole she was. Ah went silent foh ah while, and den ah told her she is ninety-nine. Findlay-Scrubb like she was was caught off-guard, she too went silent, and she said “yuh serious”?

Ah write dis bit on Mamma wid pride, and ah want to be like her, ah want ah piece ah her philosophy, thinking positive, looking ahead. Mind yuh her Soul is all ready foh her Saviour, but she is prepared to live ah full life till death comes. Ah was telling my wife how ah want to be like Mamma, and she asked me which ah de Mammas. She reminded me dat dey’s Mamma Lull, her maternal grandmother who lived to 105 years, and Marma her paternal grandmother who lived to 95. And ah added dey’s Mamma St Hilaire who just passed on at 95. She spent de last 52 years witnessing foh de Lord. Ah trying to figure out what kind ah job dey will give her up in heaven, definitely ah chief witness foh de Crowned King of Kings. At Mamma St. Hilaire’s funeral Rev Doug Neverson said dat when we die and go to heaven, our names will be changed. Ah know when ah die ah will get ah new name, my problem is ah want to live as long as one ah dem Mammas, so ah checking wid de Registrar Mrs Marks or Ricky Burnett to get me name change to Mamma, if dat happen see if ah ain’t mek ah century.

Lie-Za ask me if de ole JU-C building went to heaven and got ah new name too, she see de name “Yes we Must” written up big and bowl pon de building. How she hear dey going share out nuff freeness dey, and she done tell her boyfriend Lie-Owe, he must go wid her foh some and Lie-Owe say “Yes we Must get we share”! And wid dat is gone ah gone again.

One Love Bassy

Bassy Alexander is a land surveyor, folklorist and social commentator.

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