As she drives her four year old son To his UCMAS class She watches him idly play With his plastic abacus She recalls, how as a child She played with a wooden frame With rows of brightly coloured beads Not knowing the Chinese secret Of advanced math power hidden in them. Yet, she could total up the grocery bill in her mind She could budget the month to fit the salary She could put two and two together, And know, though it should turn out to be four, Life’s quirks make it twenty- two at times… Without having undergone special tuitions. As she watches her kids Eyes glued to the screen Jubilantly criminal in sport, Riding violent rides, Outsmarting the unknown rivals On their Play Station, She recalls her simple rustic childhood How on lazy days of summer break With her grandaunt as her opponent She waged battles in pallanguzhi By no means a mean task, Every move calculated Every manjaadi manipulated to end up In a premeditated slot, To be scooped out As the winner’s lot. As she packs her kids’ lunch box With deep fried samosas, pastries Ajinomoto rich noodles Sugar coated doughnuts, crimped potato wafers And waves off the still sleepyheads In their school bus She remembers those hurried mornings Of gulping down Plateful of left over rice Well mixed in thick curds With dainty salted mangos (Mm!…ambrosia, manna and nectar!) Before walking three kilometres To reach the school before the peon Rings the stentorian bell; Of opening the aluminium lunch box At one o’clock and Scooping out with fingers, Cold sambhar or rasam rice, Devouring the very last morsel And rushing to the row of taps To rinse the box Before elbows start jostling And water, splashing…. How times have changed She muses… Alien land…alien habits Alien taste…in food and clothing, Alien thinking, alien justifications, Alien kids? Maybe soon, she thinks… Why am I unable to adjust, she wonders Why do I cling to my past? Knowing full well that That past is past And it shall never be the same Ever again!