Kitchens is an exceptional poem by Pakistani poet Taufiq Rafat. Actually, this poem is a comparison of two types of kitchens as the very title of the poem suggests. Taufiq Rafat uses local vocabulary and free verse technique in this poem to present his ideas in a very unique manner. Taufiq Rafat is a Modern-Pakistani poet who is also the pioneer of Pakistani-Idiom in English. Arrival of the Monsoon, Eid Morning, Time to Love, and Thinking of Mohenjodaro, are famous works of Taufiq Rafat.
Summary of Kitchens by Taufiq Rafat
This poem starts with the description of an old traditional type of kitchen where the poet says that kitchens were the places we grew up in. It means the Old traditional type of kitchens were the symbol of life. Then the poet gives a description of the physical setting or interior of those kitchens which were high-roofed and spacious means that those kitchens were spacious and clean much like the hearts of those people who live in them.
Village people are always considered naive and simple. They are kind-hearted and un materialistic people. Their innocence is reflected through their actions. Similarly, traditional kitchens are the symbol of innocence, attraction and love, and compassion. These kitchens attracted us with the stench of spices and smoke that rises from them.
Here the poet is talking about the joint family system on December night everyone gets up from his/her bed and comes to the kitchen to sit idly with their family. This is the symbol of unity when everyone in a house was ready to share their happiness or grief with each other. In this regard, the kitchen serves as a platform of unity that brings people close to each other.
The poet is talking about the cheerfulness of enjoying last night’s curry and bread along with mother’s love and kindness. When everyone got together the topics on which discussions were centered were Births, Deaths, Marriages, and at last Crops. This discussion about marriages, deaths, and births symbolizes the pureness and innocence of the people of villages. In old times people were caring about each other.
Summary of Kitchens
They were kind and courteous towards each other. After that poet talks about the president of the house who keeps the house intact the Mother. Mother is an authority in the house. She holds a prominent position in the house and plays a vital role in maintaining the house and its activities through her love and compassion toward her family.
However, now the poet shifts his attention and ideas from the traditional kitchen to the modern kitchen calling modern kitchens cramped spaces. These cramped spaces are actually referring to the narrow-mindedness of people residing there. Nowadays people do not believe in the joint family system. They do not have time to talk to each other. Even they do not sit together for dining and do not discuss their pleasures and grieves with each other.
They lack innocence and they are arrogant people. Their arrogance represents the loss of traditional culture and its beliefs. In modern kitchens, there is a stainless homogeneity that winks back our sneers. Modernity has replaced innocence with arrogance.
Poet talks about the outer cleanliness of modern kitchens and represents it as the emptiness of people’s hearts. There is no dust of love, kindness, compassion, and empathy in modern kitchens as well as in modern man’s heart. Chairs are insular means everyone has a separate place to sit in. They do not join family gatherings at dining or breakfast. Modern kitchens do not encourage us to share our victories or to celebrate them with our own family members.
Summary of Kitchens by Taufiq Rafat
Even we do not have time to relieve our pains or unburden our griefs. This is due to the isolation caused by modernity. Chromium and Formica have replaced the textured means that modern kitchens are made in such a way that they do not represent life and harmony rather they represent isolation much like that of a private ward in a hospital.
Their outer shining and their good maintenance show that they are like hospitals, not kitchens. Representation of kitchens as hospitals is a severe kind of criticism of modernity and its ill effects. And at last, poet is saying that we are deferential to the pleasures of electric toast and take our last gulps standing.
This last line is showing the carelessness of modern man in spite of great hustle and bustle he is aloof. He does not have time to enjoy either breakfast or dinner with his family or to share his cares or worries with his family members.
To sum up we can say that old kitchens symbolize tradition, culture, innocence, joint family, love, compassion, close to nature, pure, un materialistic and simple and harmony. While on the other hand, modern kitchens are a symbol of a lack of love, compassion, a joint family system, loyalty, intimacy, kindness, and honesty.
Modern kitchen symbolizes the newness of modernity, abandonment of tradition and traditional way of life, materialistic society, and lack of sympathy, compassion, love, and destruction of human values. It represents the hollowness of cramped-hearted modern society.