This proverb simply means that it requires only a few stitches to repair a small tear in a garment. But if you ignore it, the tear will become bigger requiring more stitches. This means that you have to put in more efforts to get it mended. Similarly, in life, it is better to tackle all problems at an early stage. Delay in finding a solution for a problem only complicates it further making it difficult to undo the knots.
Tiny problem that can be solved easily develops into a huge one when we ignore it, thus giving rise to confusion and loss of precious time and energy in untangling it. There is a small story to illustrate the point.
Once there was a tailor bird called Chirpy who lived on a big mango tree. Chirpy was a busy little bird who took good care of his family. He was always flitting in and out of his cozy little nest looking for insects to feed his little ones or collecting grass to strengthen his nest from the approaching winter. In the same tree lived Chintu - the crow - who was very lazy and spent all his time sleeping or gossiping with the other birds in the neighbourhood.
Many a times Chirpy told Chintu, “Please repair your nest. The monsoon is soon approaching and the heavy winds could blow it away."
“You worry too much Chirpy. You must learn to enjoy life. I can get it done in a jiffy. After all it is a small hole," Chintu would say.
As the days went by, the hole in Chintu’s nest grew bigger and bigger and it was in danger of falling apart. One day there was heavy thunder and lightning and it started raining. It was then that Chintu realised that his family was in grave danger.
He flew from tree to tree looking for twigs and tiny sticks to repair his nest. While Chirpy sat snugly in his nest. Chintu flew helter shelter to save his home and almost collapsed in
exhaustion. Finally Chirpy also gave a helping hand and helped Chintu rebuild his nest. Chintu realised his foolishness and promised never again to postpone any work that required immediate attention. Thereafter the crow Chintu did all those things when the time requires immediate attention and action. Both the Chirpy and the Chintu lived happily as friends.
Similar Proverbs :
Hoist your sail when the wind is fair.
Procrastination is the thief of time.