2018 Winners and Honourable Mentions

CATEGORY C : 18 - 24 YEARS
Day 2: Decay
13 November 2018

WINNER


Jasmine Regina Fong Chui Hsia


My friends have long left me.

The papers decomposed within two to six weeks. Their cousins, cardboard, took about three months.

The apple cores decayed within a month. So did the banana peels.

The orange peels took a little longer – six months.

I made new friends but these friends came and went just as fast.

My life has been a cycle of meeting new friends but they are all always so temporary.

In the beginning, I put in effort into making new friends to keep me company in this nasty landfill to distract me from the fact that I’m in a not-so-joyful place. But as the years go by, I began to feel tired to get to know these individuals that come and go so fast. Plastic products such as myself can be pretty boring to interact with over long periods of time because we have all been here for so long. I am starting to feel tired looking at the faces of the plastic products and especially, this landfill.

I am made of plastic, so I do not decay. I have been told I would decompose in 450 to 1000 years if I am lucky. I heard from other trash in the landfill that I should have been recycled, but I somehow ended up here instead. I shouldn’t be here. I should have been properly disposed of, I later learned from a fellow plastic bottle. He said that there is this process called “recycling” where we will be sorted by types of plastic and then shipped to a place called a “plastic processing plant”. I always thought plants were those green leafy things that also decay very fast. In these “plants”, us plastics will be intensely washed to remove our labels and contaminants then be shredded into tiny pieces. We would then be heated and pressed into tiny pellets. At last, plastic product manufacturers would use these pellets made from our bodies to make new bottles, plastic packaging, and more. At first, I was horrified. The process sounded so gory. It sounded horrendously torturous and I felt it would be better if I just waited to decay naturally. It shouldn’t be that long a wait, right? Wrong.

Over the years, I heard from other trash that the Earth is dying. There is too much trash choking her up and she is deteriorating at an alarming rate. They say it’s because of trash like me that can’t decay fast enough. It shouldn’t be our fault at all! If we had been properly disposed of in the first place, we wouldn’t even be here, slowly waiting to decompose while piling up over the years. In the end, it is due to man’s actions who created us and irresponsibly disposed of us. Now, they will soon have no planet to call home. It is a race against time for them to save their planet.

Time and tide waits for no man, but what is the only thing I have? Time.


HONOURABLE MENTIONS

Mother!
Rowena anak Ringkai


She wept that day.

Mother Nature lamented as she felt her body of water being defiled with the growing amount of waste disposed into her. Her serene and boundless beauties were no longer pristine and with every passing day, they began losing their blue-green sheen. Her waves roared in despair and her tears poured from the sky, the blows of her sorrow creating storms that birthed violent hurricanes. The sea raged when Mother Nature raged, at times stirring ships to their death and demise.

She wept again the next day.

She felt her sides searing, until it was unbearably so. It was from the cries of her children, escaping the wildfire that was quickly swallowing their homes whole and the clouds of dark red smoke distorting her vision that made her realize that they had set her on fire. Months later, a city came into existence onto the cleared landscape, another addition to the long list of asphalt jungles. Her forests she had tried so hard to preserve for the sake of her children- the wildlife she had taken so long to craft and breathe life into were suffering. When they lost their families, her heart went out to them and she mourned with them, too.

She wept again the next month.

With every shot they fired towards one of her creations, she grimaced in pain. A shot through their hearts was a shot through hers. She trembled in pain, sending earthquakes and igniting volcanoes across oceans. All this she did, wounding herself in the process. She watched as they skinned her children alive, butchered them and consumed them. They mounted their ‘trophies’, degrading them into lifelong conversation starters, stories of how they conquered such a majestic being. Every single time the story of cruelty and power was told, the horrific details washed over Mother Nature like a waterfall and she dies a little bit inside.

‘They’ are humans. The cruelest of all life to ever exist. They simply did as they pleased; the cause of her most excruciating pain. Mark Twain once said that the fact that man knows right from wrong proves his intellectual superiority to the other creatures, but the fact that he can do wrong proves his moral inferiority to any creatures that cannot.

They constructed and they destructed.

Every single time she tried hard to mend herself back together- creating lush greens, composing new tunes for her birds, adding a new hue into her auroras to add wonder into the lives of innocent human beings who appreciated her creations. She rejoiced when they looked up to the sky and praised her beauty.

But she cannot do it alone. Humans were destroying her at a faster rate than she could restore herself. She was decaying slowly from inside out, their actions proving more damaging than she had thought. She keeps fighting but one day she will grow tired, the pain will be too much and she will stop trying.

On that day she would stop weeping.


The Zoo
Govind Anil Nair


As he gazed out through his window,Javier saw the empty streets littered with grey ash. It looked like snow but a lot more grey. At a distance, he could see kids wearing the portable breathing apparatus as they negotiate the slippery pavement. The adults were wearing the masks too,as the government had made it mandatory for everyone to utilize the breathing apparatus. He recalls his childhood,a time long gone, when he could play freely without a bulky apparatus hindering his every move. A knock on the door brings Javier back to the present."Heythere, ready to go?”, asks a female voice. Javier turns around and sees Natasha. “Oh yes. I have been looking forward to this day”,he says with a smile, as he grabs his coat and exits his office.
As the elevator door opens, the concierge walks towards them and offers the breathing apparatus. “Stay safe, madam and sir. The air quality is particularly poor today. The oxygen will last you 7 hours. Please remember to not engage in any oxygen heavy activities”,he advises with a grin ,as he waves them goodbye. 
“Do you remember the time when the sky was blue? Back when everything was still real?”,he asks Natasha, as they walk along the street. “Oh yes!”,she replies. “Gosh that feels like forever. What a wonderful time that was. Back before the decaying began”,she let her voice trail. They both nodded as they turned the corner.
Soon,they reached their destination. The board read zoo,but it was different from those Javier had gone with his parents as a kid. As they entered the red brick warehouse,a man approaches them and hands them a pair of headphones. The man in the counter nods and scans Javier phone as he waves them in. They walk towards a darkly lit corridor. As they step inside, they are struck by the smell of freshly cut grass mixed with the odour of animals. Lights flicker and soon,they are standing in an illuminated pathway. On either sides,holograms of various animals move past them,at times through them. The audio through the headphones compliments the scenes around them. A giant elephant walks besides them as they are distracted by a monkey swinging from branch to branch. The clear blue skies turn grey and the ash they had seen outside in the streets start to cover the forest lands around them. The chirping of birds and the chatter of monkeys turn into screeching and squealing. As they look around them, they see animal carcasses and rotting trees. The soothing scent is replaced with a suffocating stench that made their eyes burn and sent them into coughing bouts. As they scamper towards the exit,the visuals and the stench disappear.

As they reach the exit, a digital signage displays the message: ‘This exhibit commemorates the 10th anniversary since the decaying began. Blessed are we to survive,lest we forget the wildlife that perished and the harsh conditions that has since prevailed. Let us make a conscious effort to prevent further deterioration.’