what we used to wipe our backside
today's toilet paper comes in a roll and it can be made from different types of paper; they come in different colour, different texture and some are even perfumed or medicated. some 'luxury' toilet papers are quilted or riffled. i have also come across toilet rolls decorated with dolphins or cartoon characters. during our kampong days, toilet paper was a luxury item.
what then did we use to clean our backside in the past.
in those night-soil carriers days, we had not started using toilet paper that came in a roll. we cut old newspapers into square or rectangle pieces and use them to do the job. they were held together by a length of wire that was pierced through one corner of the stack. when we had to do a quick job, we did not even bother to get the ready-cut ones, we just grabbed some old papers and headed for the latrine. sometimes we collected the soft tissue-like papers that were used for wrapping fruit and used them for the same purpose. one advantage of using old newspaper was that you had something to read while engaged in your business.
when we were out in the belukars catching spiders and we had an 'emergency', we would use the most convenient thing found around us - the leaves of plants - to do the cleaning job. leaves might not do a thorough job but it was better than using earth or sand.
we had a few indian neighbours in the kampong. i noticed that whenever they visited the 'jamban', they would carry a mug or jug of water. i was to learn later that most indians in those days did not use any paper, much less toilet paper, to clean up after the business. instead they used water to wash their backside. actually, water does a more thorough job than wiping with paper. a combination of both is considered the best way of cleaning up the mess.
now that i live in a flat with modern sanitation, what do i use? at home i prefer to use water. when i am outside and i need to use the public toilet, i usually have no choice but to use toilet paper.