Bin nights

Lian Low

 

Mum lives in a house overrun by paper miscellany – bills, newspapers, junk mail spill

cantankerous on the couch, dining table, floor, kitchen bench, notes scribbled on the edges of

open envelopes which she’ll forget and ask me over the phone.

 

Most Tuesday nights I have dinner with Mum; wash-up, wheel out the rubbish and recycling

We chat about her 90 year old tai chi teacher who eats eggshells everyday as a health booster

We chat about Dad in the aged care facility, if he sat on his electric wheelchair for activities

or not

We chat about Mystery Diners & sneaky employees on hidden surveillance cheating their

bosses

We chat about the news, her birthplace in Terengganu where two women were caned in

public for consensual sexual relations

…………..(I scour google and read that it’s never happened in Malaysia before September 2018.

Malaysia’s Prime Minister denounces the caning, but maintains that LGBTQ+ rights are

Western values (here in Australia, we celebrate one year of marriage equality).  In August

2018 the portraits of two LGBTQ+ activists were removed from an exhibition.  Later in the

year the former Malaysian deputy prime minister claims that Palu, Indonesia’s earthquake

and tsunami was the result of God’s punishment for LGBTQ+ activities.  Sodom and

Gomorrah on repeat, the fire and brimstone magic show)

 

Just before the mercury rose over 40 degrees in January

I replaced Mum’s noisy wobbly fan, circulating more hot air, with a borrowed portable air

conditioning unit ignoring her repeated refusal, ‘Don’t worry, I’m fine.  Don’t you need it?’

Her home spared from the 200,000 homes in Victoria hit by power failure

With coal and thermal generators failing in the heatwave

It was wind power that filled the gap

Summer 2018-2019 beating 2013’s hottest summer record

Sea levels projected to rise to over two metres by 2100

The earth slowly sucking Jakarta’s foundations into its bowels, ‘the fastest sinking city in the

world’

 

Mum and I are home from hospital ‘cos Dad is sick again

We chat about the news; ScoMo wins, the Adani coalmine on Wangan and Jagalingou

Country will go ahead, a few days later a climate emergency rally disrupts parts of the

Melbourne CBD

I wheel the yellow recycling bin over the tuft of grass in the driveway,

Ponder how Australian recycling has now landed in Malaysia’s ports full of maggots

A trash outpost for rich nations

A Western value system of individualism and selfishness?

We turn off the news,

Make space to breathe, practice tai chi in the lounge room.

 

 

Lian Low is a writer of fiction and non-fiction. From 2009-2016, Lian was an editor and a board member of Peril – Asian Australian arts and culture magazine. Lian is a recipient of The Wheeler Centre’s inaugural Next Chapter scheme and currently working on a young adult speculative fiction novel.

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