A New Stove for Independence (015)
Author: Star E.
3rd place – Short Story
“Future? What future?” She laughs until the sight of her discouloured gums makes me want to vomit. And yet, I was the one being scorned.
“How dare she laugh at me?” I think to myself. “How dare this ash gray skinned, white hair, old nobody laugh at me? I was born in the age of technology. I know how to use
a BlackBerry. I can talk to friends in China via wireless internet. What do I
know about the future? What does she?”
“Mama, look!” I say, “It’s even got burners with automatic ignition so you won’t have to
light any matches.”
“So, now, I’m too old and weak to light a match?”
“Mama, I’m only saying a stove like this will save you a lot of time…”
“What you know about time? Your generation always in a rush – rush hour, high speed;
instant this, instant that. What do you know about quality time? About doing
things right?” She asks.
“Mama we do things right. Better yet, we do things efficiently. People are trying to build a decent future. Nobody has time to stand around and take in the sights. Things
have got to be done now.”
She releases a long, slow sigh; a never-ending sigh, a sigh that makes me wonder if, in our advanced era, there are machines that make old people less stubborn.
She looks at me with her hollow, fading eyes, “How can you build a secure future if you
never slow down to study the blueprint that is history? How can there be a
future where there is no past?”
I watch Mama spend hours cooking fungee and saltfish in her worn clay pot on that Sunday. She sings as she toils, “Onward Christian soldiers, marching as to war, with the cross of Jesus going on before.” I scoff internally – old people are just incorrigible.
Then a clump of ash rises in the air as she fiddles with the pot. These ashes blow away but they don’t go far. They find a resting place in the concrete mixer that will
provide the foundation for my future home.
Winning pieces from the 2011 Independence Literary Arts Competition are published here, with the chairperson’s permission, for the purpose of showcasing the talent displayed during the competition. Copyright of these pieces remain the preserve of the writers and, as is the case with all Wadadli Youth Pen Prize/Wadadli Pen, content should not be copied, distributed, transmitted, used for commercial purposes, altered, transformed, or built upon without the consent of the copyright holders. All other site content is created by me (Joanne C. Hillhouse) or, in the case of winning Wadadli Pen stories, the specific authors unless otherwise indicated. The same rules apply