When I was very young, my dad bought a kilo of sugar. In Nepal, if you bought a kilo, you would receive it in a single plastic bag.
When he got home, my mom asked, “did you buy the sugar?”
Dad handed the full plastic bag to my mom. She poured the sugar into one of the cylindrical containers she used to store our daily kitchen spices. She kept the plastic bag, saying that she could use it for something else sometime.
A few days later as she was heading towards the wheat field, she looked up at the sky, which was full of greyish clouds.
“I think it’s going to rain,” she said.
Then she took her phone out of her pocket and put it in the same plastic bag that my dad had brought home the other day.
Another day, when she was going to collect some hay to bring to the cattle, she took out the same plastic bag again to carry some popcorn and roasted soy beans to snack on along the way.
Another day, she said, “I am going to the community centre to make some split lentils.” We didn’t need to go to the mill to make split lentils, as the centre had a stone grinder. She brought the plastic bag, which could carry around one kilo of lentil seeds, and headed towards the community centre.
Another day, she put five or six flatbreads and a container of curry in her plastic bag. She said to me, “dear, please take lunch to your dad in the field.” She also asked me to bring home the empty container and the plastic bag after he was finished.
The plastic bag was getting old, and I was very young. On the way back home, I was swinging the plastic bag back and forth. It got caught on a bush and when I tried to unsnare it, the plastic ripped.
I knew that my mom would be extremely angry at me for ruining her precious plastic bag. When I reached home, with a sad expression plastered on my face, I explained to her what had happened on the way.
She yelled at me. To this day, her words are still fresh in my mind.
“Idiot, it was so useful to me! You don’t know how to handle anything!”
She set the bag down on the table. My mom liked to store our plastic bags between the wall and the table, in a space where you could barely fit two fingers. She proceeded to put the plastic bag there.
The day my mom’s sandal straps broke, she took the ripped plastic bag out once more and mended her sandal.
One hot day, there was a crowd of people holding a rally on the road about World Environment Day, protesting about the single-use plastic ban. My mom’s eyes however were fixed on the shiny banners they were carrying. In my country, banners are usually made from cloth, but she was sure it was not cloth but Flex, which was made out of vinyl. Even though she was not really sure what vinyl was, she did know that the banners were strong and resistant to weathering.
When the rally finished, the protesters threw the banners on the side of the road. My mom brought them home and crafted a doormat for the porch.