CBSE Class 12 English - My Mother at Sixty Six
About the Poet: Kamala Das is a sensitive writer who captures the complexities of human relationships in her poems.
The theme of the poem:
- Fear of loss or separation from the old aging mother. It talks about the anguish of the daughter over her mother’s advancing age and the fear of permanent separation from her
Driving home…..merry children spilling out of their homes
i. Ashen: very pale
ii. Doze: sleeping
iii. Corpse: like a dead body
The poetess begins by telling us that she is returning back from her parent’s home to Cochin last Friday when she observes her mother who is sitting beside her and describes her as:
- Sleeping with her mouth open with an ashen or pale face she was looking like a dead body and a thought struck her mind that her mother is getting old and she might lose her. The poetess felt pained at the miseries and sufferings of the old age. To put that thought away and distract herself she looks outside the window and saw the trees sprinting or speeding past by and the young children playing outside their homes.
1. Trees Sprinting: sprinting means short fast race or running.
This means that these trees racing past and the speeding car is a reminder that the time has flown by as fast as her mother was so youthful but now she has grown old.
2. Merry children spilling: Merry children spilling means the happy or joyous children playing or spilling outside their house. They symbolize youth, energy, life.
“But after airport…my childhood fear”
i. Wan: colorless
ii. Winter’s moon: winter’s moon is basically hazy or unclear because it's hidden behind
iii. Ache: pain
- In the next few lines, she talks about the familiar ache or the painful realization that she has not cared for her aging mother enough.
- This ache symbolizes her helplessness and the underlying fear of separation from her. It is familiar because she has experienced it in the past as well maybe as a child when she came to know she has to go and work away from her.
- She compares her mother’s pale and withered face with the winter’s moon. She specifically writes winter here because the winter’s moon loses it radiance and brightness behind the fog and mist just like her mother’s face seemed to lose its radiance misted by her age. Winter also symbolizes death or inactivity when nothing grows and the waning moon symbolizes fading or decay.
“But all I said………smile”
- The last four lines of the poem are the parting words that she says to her mother.
- These words are expressive of her dilemma and confusion in her mind and the repetition of the word “Smile” three times signifies ÷
- Her fear of losing her mother.
- The anxiety of her mother’s failing health, which she tries to cover up with a smile
- The hope that her mother would survive long.
LITERARY DEVICES USED IN THE POEM
- Her face is ashen like that of a corpse.
- wan, pale as a winter’s moon
- Thought away….. Thought away.
- Smile and smile and smile
SYMBOLS AND IMAGERY:
- Trees sprinting
- Merry children spilling