Prabhakar Subramaniam

Obsolete - Poem by Prabhakar Subramaniam

Do you know

How to raise a fire

Even when the wood is wet

And feed it with cowdung cakes,

Paper or kerosene?

Do you know

How to pound grain into rice

Cook it right

And drain it deftly

So you can satisfy

Your in-laws?

If you sleep like this

How will you get up

Early in the morning

To sweep the front-yard

When you marry and go away?

You may study and get good marks

But do you know

How to at least make good coffee?

My mother spoke of the fears

Peers and elders stoked in her

Pointing to how time came to her rescue

Making their much-vaunted skills obsolete

The mill-polished rice, LPG stove, cooker

Turned the kitchen upside down

Tilted the scales for the young

I recall her days

When I fumble with the computer

And my daughter-in-law,

A software engineer,

Her eyes glinting with pride

Teaches me.

I cannot tell her

Lest I give offence

That jobs, products, people, and friends

Now come with

Shorter warranty

Her skill too

Will soon go


And the younger

And smarter

And fresher face

Will take her place.

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Poem Submitted: Sunday, August 19, 2012

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