Fallen leaves after a stormy night on the island. Photo © Zarina Holmes


Poets talk about the storm as if it’s a romantic thing. Maybe it is, after it has passed, and the thundering force is a distant memory. The storm is actually a nuisance. You have to deal with disruptive travels, cancelled plans, flight turbulence, flash flood and property damages.

It’s a massive inconvenience if you find comfort in order and control. That’s the illusion we tell ourselves. The reality is nothing on earth is totally within our control. But humans have cleverly devised a way to keep their lives organised and predictable, otherwise we would go crazy worrying about life’s uncertainty.

The storm brings out sad things we don’t usually see on calmer days

Many years ago, while in art school, I spent a short time at an east-coast seaside town in Malaysia to write a paper on the traditional textile craft. I discovered that the batik textile was created by fishermen during the monsoon season, when they couldn’t go out to the sea. It’s a creative economy that has resulted from adverse weather.

Sun-dried asam gelugor at my aunt’s village house, a sour condiment for laksa and other dishes. Photo © Zarina Holmes

Bad weather also made humans creative with food technology. They learned to preserve food to last through the difficult months. So, in a way, the storm throws a good challenge for humans to survive.

The storm brings out sad things we don’t usually see on calmer days. For example, the plastic rubbish I found washed out on the beach on the next day. They ruin the perfect view. Perhaps the rubbish came from passing ships or have been lurking underwater all along. On my beach, it becomes my problem and my responsibility to clean it up.


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