The Wisdom Behind The Words ‘Waste Not, Want Not’

My sister once said that the word that is sure to grab everyone’s attention at my house is the word ‘buang’ or discard–and she is not wrong. Whenever I hear someone mention anything that could be associated with throwing things out, it is impossible for me to keep my focus until I know what is being thrown out, why it is being thrown out or perhaps what is actually being said.

The saying one man’s trash is another man’s treasure shows that rubbish can be all about perspective. I remember back at school, my friends used to give me their old highlighters, coloured pens and markers, after they found me fishing them out from the waste basket. It wasn’t just that I didn’t have any coloured pens but it bothered me to see people throwing out things that could still be used. While others got frustrated by the inconsistent ink flow or the lighter colour as some of the ink dried up, I saw that it could still leave mark. Dried magic pens may not be ideal for writing anymore but I could use them for colouring, producing something akin to the dry brush effect. And highlighters, no matter how unsaturated could still mark important notes.

My mother, who was getting rather annoyed by my growing collection of bunga telur flowers, old and unusable CDs, bits of colourful ribbons, strings, papers and torn fabric, started throwing them out while I was out at school–only to find them reappear in another day or two. It took her some months before she finally caught my toddler brother waddling from the bin with a handful of broken items and handing them all to me, whispering that he had just ‘saved’ them from the rubbish bin. When my mother taught us ‘waste not, want not’, she could not have imagined the repercussions it left in the house.

Nonetheless, she is quite the ‘rescuer‘ herself, specialising in food recycle and recovery. She grew up watching her grandmother cooked fried rice with a variety of leftover fish and gravy and she herself would occasionally make ‘nasi special’ (special rice) every now and then from a concoction of various curries, ‘kuah‘ (gravy from side dishes, usually eaten with rice) and ‘sambal’ (a kind of hot sauce) that she could pull out from the freezer. What others might have considered to be useless because it’s out of ‘lauk‘, be it chicken, beef or fish, she would pack them and store them for future use.

Which is why it is sad, and sometimes maddening, for us to see the mounds of half eaten food piled high on plates, along with rows of barely touched drinks, that people leave behind at eateries. Papers, with their backs still white and untarnished by ink, getting crumpled and tossed into rubbish bins is as painful to me to watch as hearing fingernails scraping on a chalkboard. And my sister is always going around, turning off unused electrical appliances

My late great grandmother would always say that the more grateful you are and the more you try to make use of what you already have, you would always be blessed with more. I used to think that what she meant was you would have more physical things: money, food and items, because you have less need to buy more. However, the more I think about it, the more I think that there is more wisdom to her words; wisdom that she probably deeply understood.

Because through our dislike for throwing things, we have to constantly really dig into our heads to try and find a use for something nobody pays attention to. When the dough of one of my mother’s early bread making attempts failed to rise, we tried frying it and from that ‘disaster’, we’ve got ourselves some interesting ‘cakoi‘-like fritters that everyone enjoyed. When our collection of curries, too little to be served as side dishes, reaches a formidable size, we tossed them into the rice cooker and get a surprise mix of flavour that we could never recreate. And when I pull out my collection of odds and ends for a craft project back at school, I could come up with something unique that others would call ‘creative’.

The thing is, what people call creativity is usually the ability or tendency to look at the world from a different perspective and finding unique ways to do things or solve problems when unconventional methods fail. And in a world where we are constantly bombarded with quick and instant solutions that are taken for granted, you don’t get a chance to train your mind into looking for interesting and possibly better alternative methods or even the consequences of all of your actions.

And there is something very beautiful in seeing the wonderful possibilities and the many threads that connects the various cycles which creates the universe–all lighting up in front of you, in the form of a chicken-less chicken curry that is left in several bowls after a small community dinner. And when someone asks me if I am going to have it as a dipping sauce with my bread, I smile and wonder upon the wisdom of my grandmother’s words–and then run off to grab the next bowl before someone collects it for the bin.

NaPoWriMo Poem #16: Goodbye is Temporal

I just wish I could just say it
But my tongue is frozen stiff
With the million words caged
At the back of my throat.
My heart aches at the thought
My mind tells me to go on
My brain is torn in between
Paralysed in hesitation

Their eyes are all around us
Their provocations ring in my ears
Their aggravation breaks my composure
Their accusations are loud and clear
We stand in the spotlight
They watch our every twitch
They speculate our every move
They judge our every breath

Every good thing comes to an end
Some more drastic than others
Those with dull lives search
For the drama that they yearn
And with their smirks and grins
They pushed us inside
They use us as their puppets
To entertain their sick needs

Every hug is for their smiles
Every word is for their tears
I’m just so glad that you will forget
The things that happen, my dear
For such memory is an agony
That reruns like a broken tape
I just wish that you will keep
The good memories of days past

We humans are imperfect beings
Some tried harder than most
I don’t know if you did what’s right
But you did what you thought was best
And your story continues through me
Goodbye is simply temporal
For you would live on inside me
But I still wish that I could say it…

I can’t believe that it’s actually the last day of April. I definitely did not win this challenge as I wrote on scarcely half of the days but I definitely enjoyed it. There were some lucky days when I barely had to think for the words came pouring fast. On other days, I greatly annoy my sisters with my groans and complains 😀 Well, it certainly was a nice ride and I would like to try to complete it again next year, Insya Allah.

NaPoWriMo #Poem 15: City Shower

The room darkens as the sunlight begins to fade
A scent, so dearly-missed, growing into a parade
I rush to the window and turn up to the sky
Seeing dark dense clouds coming by and by

I pull back the latch and turn the key
Revealing the sight of the blurry city
The air is thick with smoke and dust
But it’s alright, rain has come at last

I catch the first drop in my open eye
My skin has long feel grimy and dry
Another drop on my cheek, my arm, my nose!
Now pouring by tankfuls, how fast it goes!

I bring out the buckets and whatever that would hold
The much needed water, so refreshingly cold!
Though the shower is blurring the sight of my gaze
I can see it eating up most of the smog and haze

The land has long been cracked and arid
Such delight to see drains now gushing like rapids
My clothes now drenched clinging heavily to my body
Unknowingly absorbing the toxic from the city

NaPoWriMo Poem #14: Individual Evolution

I feel tall and big
I am now five
As tall as the big kids
My hand is in my dad’s
He push me
To the other kids
I join the lines
My first day of school

I feel special and happy
My parents are proud of me
Of the A’s on the paper
And the scores of nineties
I don’t really know
Why it is important
But I have worked hard
To get the first in class

I feel my knees melting
As I am climbing down
I gulp when I see mom
But she takes me in her arms
And I know that I did right
Stunned, I simply smile
I almost cannot believe that
I gave my first public speech

I feel my heart stop
I am not in the list
Did I fail the exam?
My teacher laughs at me
I feel blood gushing back
Only now I understand
I have been double promoted
After my first silat exam

I feel the warmth enveloping me
As I flick through the leaves
Of my diaries past
And read of my confessions
My failures and successes
My trials and ambitions
Time run fast as if
Every day had been a dream

I feel myself bump into the present
By the steady knock on the door
My sister once a baby
Now stands taller than me
Funny how at every frame
Of the film of my life
Affected me in such a way
That makes me who I am

I feel a mix of anxiety
At the anticipation
Of what is to come
The pressing question
Am I making the right choice?
For every deed shapes the future
Like the gentle breaths of wind
Moulding a mountain range

I feel the cold doorknob
Inside my firm grip
I open up the door
Wearing a little grin
My sister’s hand froze
In a half knocking fashion
I wonder if she ever notice
Of her own evulotion

NaPoWriMo Poem #13: My Carpet

Today’s NaPoWriMo’s optional prompt is to write a ten line poem full of lies. I have to admit, I’m not too good with writing nonsense….

I live in the mountaintops where the air is frosty cold
And every day I set to work exploring the land for gold
When I do earn enough I shall bring them to the market
Where I shall trade the gold I find for a brand new handmade carpet
At home I take my toolkit and hang carpets on the wall
I secure them with lots of nails just in case they fall
And since I know that things would just never ever go wrong
I let my friends come to my house with their kids tagging along
They mess about with cans of oilpaints and bottles of my ink
I watch in horror as my carpets were ruined just as I blink.

NaPoWriMo Poem #12: The Robin’s Farewell

Today’s optional prompt given by the NaPoWriMo website was to write a terza rima. It is a form which I have never before came across and thought would be interesting to try.

A little bird came swooping down
Opening its wings and perched
On the edge of my eiderdown

Hearing the merry songs, I searched
By the slit of my half opened eyes
The image of a robin emerged

Surprised, rubbing my eyes twice
I see the red breast so bold
Despite its comparative size

I reached out my hand to hold
The robin stared unflinching
As I softly cooed and cajoled

My fingers were slowly inching
Tips now caressing a feather
Kept steady without flinching

As if sensing a change in the weather
The robin bobbed its head at me
And left with its mate together

I rushed to the window to see
The wind moving with the season
And the birds heading off to sea

Beginning their migratory expedition.

NaPoWriMo Poem #10: Beware the Puppeteer

They live within the shadows,
Shying away from plain,
Whispering to your hearts,
Thriving on your pain.

They cannot cause destruction,
Nor could they cause you harm,
They use you as their puppets,
Fool you with their charm.

They plump you up with spite,
Overwhelmed with malignity,
You can no longer survive,
You drown yourself in enmity.

A portal opens before your eyes,
See yourself reigning as queen,
They taught you to pretend,
Live is naught but a movie scene.

They fill you with delusion,
Feed you with their fantasy,
You believe all that you see,
Not what they hid beneath.

They use you against yourself,
Sink venom in your goodwill,
You conclude without a second thought,
Confusing what’s well, what’s ill.

They overwhelm you with agony,
Stretched far beyond your reach,
Your eyes blinded with tears,
Suck out your joys like a leech.

Suffering could transform a person,
They know it, oh yes they do,
Your sorrow fills you with anger,
Lashing out to those who hurt you.

They turn you into their puppets,
They lead you to your ruins,
Be you cause, victim or spectator,
They are behind your wrongdoings.

Life is more than black and white,
Life is more than a TV drama,
Stay on the path that leads to the truth,
And it would protect you in the arena.

I apologise for not posting yesterday as the circumstances were against me. So today I wrote a long poem with each two stanzas telling a different part of the whole story. I wish that people would be wiser when dealing with their wishes and emotions and not to judge a book by its cover. Life is complex and complicated, humans are different and diverse, emotions are powerful and blinding and within all that, the evil lurks and fill you with the delusions of an alternate reality. The enemies appear in all shapes and sizes, from the hateful and malevolent, the ignorant but well meaning, and your own confused self but it all begins with the puppeteer….

NaPoWriMo Poem #9: Memory

A frozen drop of rain
On the misty window pane

A leaf hangs in the air
Caressing a lone pear

A peeping tail in the ripples
Water shining like crystals

A floating dandelion seed
Following the wind’s lead

A perfect balance of colour
In the bright sky of summer

A hand points to seven
Suspended in the second

A blinding white light
Everything gone from sight

Leaving just a memory
With the magic of photography

NaPoWriMo Poem #7: Siblings

The funny fact about siblings is they have each other’s look
But you cannot simply judge things by the cover of a book
The differences between them can be rather a surprise
I’ll tell you what I mean and you’ll get it in a thrice

Aeshah enjoys reading books of civilisations long gone
Anisah watches insects she had just found in the lawn
Ali dons his fedora, fingers strumming the ukulele
And I would be at the keyboard, fumbling with the keys.

Ali always leave the house with a ‘songkok’ on his head
I would be forced to change for wearing bright blue with red
Anisah pulls her drawer out and snatches anything inside
But Aeshah’s dressing would never fail to win my mom’s delight.

When I wish to cool off my anger, I may run up the stairs
But Anisah would be leaping down, skipping the last few pairs
Ali stamps his feet and shoves anyone in his way
Aeshah frowns and glares and will have a lot to say.

Anisah hums as she pour herself a hot cup of tea
Aeshah would decline a drink she finds to be too sugary
Ali sips his milk, tapping steadily to fill the silence
I take an hour to finish my coffee while working on assignments

When we were younger Anisah says she wants to be painter
Ali wishes to be a butterfly, perching on a flower
Aeshah says she’s a princess, looking pretty and elegant
But I wanted to be the biggest of all, I decided to be an elephant

So if you ever get the chance to meet the four of us together
Notice how our personalities may contradict with each other
Just like the prints you have on each fingers of your hand
Each person is different from the others on the land.

Note: Yes, I have been late again. It took me a whole hour just to decide on a topic. Also, I almost cannot believe that it has been a week since we began.

And whether the facts in the poem written above is true, it is up to you to decide 😉

NaPoWriMo Poem#6: My Obligation To My Family

Everything I used to know instantly begins to change
Nothing is familiar to me, nothing still feels the same
Too sudden for me to even know who am I to blame
How long had the masters around me been playing this ugly game?

Secrets now exposed, once hidden since long past
The family I remember and know is disappearing fast
The wilderness around me, haunts me and seems so vast
It truly feels like I stand alone, like I am now the last.

The pillar that I depended on now not within my reach
The words that I have given to others I can never breach
And yes I now can see ‘whodunnit’ in this story
But please understand, I cannot leave my family.

The walls that kept me safe was nothing but illusion
And now the road ahead of me has reached its division
Time is short but I can’t afford a mistake in my decision
Between two duties, which of them carries my obligation?

I want to do the right thing for my people, for my home
I choose to walk in between where the weeds and shrubs have grown
But sooner or later it won’t be safe to walk into the unknown
I know that from this moment onwards I face my trials alone.

The pillar that I had been leaning on could no longer support me
How things would turn out in the future I cannot foresee
And although I now can see the person who started this tyranny
But I think that my obligation is for me to stand with my family.

Note: Since the first day I wrote for NaPoWriMo, I had wanted to write a poem based on the story I wrote (and has yet to complete) for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). This poem was written from my main character’s point of view after he realised that he had been an insignificant pawn in a huge game of betrayal and deception and he had to choose his loyalty; to his innocent cousin or his deceitful father.