We were clearing out the rental flat that my mother stayed in for most part of her life. This flat must be returned to HDB after her passing.
My mother belonged to a generation that knew what was scarcity. She knew money was hard to come by. My father who earned a living as a trishaw rider could not give her a life of luxury. Whatever she owned became her prized possessions. She kept them and would not entertain the thought of throwing them away or giving them up to the karang guni man.
Among the many items in her house, she had teakwood dressing table and wardrobe and a foot-pedaled sewing machine. These items were at least seventy years old that were around since her marriage. They are still in good conditions. By not replacing them with the latest fashionable products, it meant that manufacturer had one less item to make thus saving resources of this earth.
My mother sewed her own clothes, from inner wear to outerwear. When we bought new tops and pants, she would keep them. She rather wore her old clothes made by her. Even when she grew fat for the clothes, she would cut and expand it at the seams with added material. We found out that she had so many colourful clothes when we were clearing her wardrobes.
Another behaviour of her that showed her mentality of having lived through scarcity was her obsession with switching off lights in the house. She would always ask us to switch off the lights in the rooms to save electricity. It meant money spent to have the lights on. When she was confined to her bed in her last days, she would point to the ceiling light telling us to switch it off.
My mother may not understand environmental protection, but her actions facilitated towards that end. Modern society has changed all that. Let’s do some things for our next generation before it is too late.