A Jamaican's Ode to "Mama/Mumz/Modda"

My mother believes that being thrifty is the key to heaven. That’s the only way I can explain why a woman who’s been comfortably middle class for quite a long time still has an almost religious belief in frugality. And its not because I haven’t tried hard to understand from whence this passion comes. I’ve wondered whether it may have been instilled in her as a poor child in the 1950s (she was the 8th of 11 kids) when she grew up in a rural community in the hills of Clarendon and every shilling was the meagre reward for her father’s back-breaking labour on a small plot of farmland. Whatever the reason, one thing I can tell you for certain is that my mother is an absolute fiend when it comes to being thrifty.

Just to give you a small example - as children my sister and I were quite fond of hot dogs but we quickly learned that we had to move very slowly when pouring a bottle of Grace Tomato Ketchup over a freshly cooked sausage. This was because moving too quickly might mean the entire contents of the bottle might come gushing out and soak your hotdog. Why? Because my mother was in the habit of adding water to the ketchup in order to “stretch it” and frequently forgot to tell us to “pour with caution”. She employed a similar stretch-it strategy with dishwashing liquid which usually meant that you had to use twice as much dishwashing liquid to clean the same number of dishes.

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