Heir Conditioning by M SHANmughalingam.
In his school days at the V.I. from 1952 to 1958, Dato' M. Shanmughalingam was hyperactive in the debating, literary and drama fields. He was a member of the very successful school debating team and chairman of the Senior Literary and Debating Society. He topped the country in the 1956 Sixth Form Entrance Exam with 96% marks. He was the secretary and, later, joint editor of theSeladang, steering the V.I. newspaper through one of its most vibrant periods. He was in the first group of Victorians in 1958 to be awarded the coveted "Club 21" badge for meritorious service to the school.
Shan holds an Honours degree from the University of Malaya, a Masters from Harvard and a Doctorate from Oxford University. At Harvard he graduated first in class with Grade A in all eight subjects and was admitted to the Ph.D. programme directly without formal application. At Oxford he won the Getrude Hartley Memorial prize for Poetry and a graduate scholarship from Balliol College and the second prize in the Short Story competition judged by the novelist, Iris Murdoch and John Bayley, Prof. of Literature, and sponsored by ISIS, Oxford University and The Observer.
Shan's literary publications include poems and short stories in Commonwealth Anthologies (London) international anthologies (Singapore), in universities (Harvard, Malaya, Oxford and Singapore) and in national literary journals. He is co-editor of an anthology of Malaysian poetry.
Shan's works have been the subject of theses in universities in Malaysia and Germany and of a movie to be made in New Zealand. A video recording of his performance poetry with thirteen of his own poems has just been made for an Australian website on international poets.
Flustered /fl st rd/ : confuse or nervous.
Fluttered /fl t rd/ : insects or birds fly by moving their wings lightly up and down.
Necessities /n s s t s/ : something that you need to have in order to live.
Ignorance / gn r ns/ : lack of knowledge or information about something.
Pollution /p l n/ : the process of making air, water, soil etc dangerously dirty and not suitable for people to use.
Destruction /d str k n/ : the act or process of destroying something or of being destroyed.
Streams /str ms/ : a long and almost continuous series of events, people, objects etc.
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?
In the first stanza, the poet asks his grandparents about the life before the technology arouse and become the important usage in the world nowadays. He asks his grandfather was it complicated to live in the life without technology as he refers the technology to the invention of the air cons. Then he asks his grandmother regarding the condition when she used paper fans to cool herself. He also asks his grandmother what were the possibilities for them to communicate without faxes and long distance calls compared to the world nowadays.
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.
The second stanza shows the answers given by the poet’s grandparents that sum up all the questions in one simple answer. The reason on why they did not experience all the pollution, stress, traffic jams, and destruction of forests, streams and hills is because of their ignorance; they were lack of knowledge by that time. His grandparents add, the only thing that they fear is God and nature but now, the nature turns to fear the entire human race and money is the only obsession to human.
MATERIAL VS SPIRITUAL
IGNORANCE VS EXPERIENCE