Heir Conditioning
Grand dad did you breathe
before air cons were invented?
was it hard staying
alive without modern inventions?
Grandma weren’t you flustered
as you fluttered with paper fans?
could you communicate before
faxes and long distance calls
became basic necessities?

Grandchild we lived
before your age. Because
of our ignorance,
we did not know
pollution, stress, traffic jams
destruction of forests, streams and
we feared God and nature
now nature fears you and
money is your new God.

by SHANmugalingam




“Heir Conditioning” talks about the conditioning of the minds of the younger generation who are so dependent on modern inventions in their daily life. Their minds are so conditioned to having modern inventions to manage their daily life that to them it may seem impossible to live without these inventions. The poet seems to suggest that to the younger generation, progress is measured by the availability of modern gadget.

The poem is presented in a conversational style manner between a grandfather-grandchild relationship. In the first stanza, the grandchild’s questions seem naive, childlike and amusing when the grandchild asks grandparents how they could actually live without modern inventions such as air conditioners, fans, and fax machines. In the second stanza, the poet is lamenting that this destruction is of their own choosing, deliberate simply because they do not fear God and nature, the way the grandfather’s generation did.