My Mother at Sixty-six
Driving from my parent’s home to Cochin last Friday
morning, I saw my mother, beside me,
doze, open mouthed, her face
ashen like that of a corpse
and realised with pain
that she was as old as she looked
While the poet was driving from her parent’s home to Cochin on a Friday morning her mother was sitting beside her. Her mother dozed off with gaping mouth. Mother’s face looked lifeless like the face of a corpse. The poet had the painful realisation that her mother has grew old indeed.
but soon put that thought away,
and looked out at Young Trees sprinting,
the merry children spilling out of their homes,
In order to distract herself from her mother’s old lifeless face, the poet focused on the Young Trees which appeared to be sprinting by the roadside. When your car or bus is moving on the road, the trees appear to be running in reverse direction. The poet could also see happy children coming out of their homes to play.
but after the airport’s security check,
standing a few yards away,
I looked again at her, wan, pale
as a late winter’s moon and
felt that old familiar ache, my childhood’s fear,
But all I said was, see you soon, Amma,
all I did was smile and smile and smile
The poet was going to see her mother off at the airport. After the security check, her mother moves towards the terminal. Mother’s face looks colourless and pale the way the moon in late winter appears. While looking at her mother’s pale face the poet is gripped with her childhood fear, probably of losing her mother. The poet is unable to say a word and ends up just saying good bye. She also smiles, probably to make it a happy parting moment for her mother, or probably to hide her fears.
Think It Out
Question 1: What is the kind of pain and ache that the poet feels?
Answer: The poet feels pain at seeing her frail and old mother. Old age brings various physical and mental problems for the person. The old age also brings a continuous reminder that the person is in the last laps of her life.
Question 2: Why are the young tree describe as ‘sprinting’?
Answer: When your car or bus is moving on the road, the trees appear to be running in reverse direction. The poet describes this movement as sprinting of young trees. She is portraying the contrast between her mother appearing lifeless in her sleep, and the trees which are running in reverse direction. Life is always moving in forward direction while trees are moving backwards as if trying to time travel to the past.
Question 3: Why has the poet brought in the image of the merry children ‘spilling out of their homes’?
Answer: Children often come out their homes in hordes to play. Merry-making children are full of life. The poet is putting a contrast between her mother’s lifeless face and playful children.
Question 4: Why has the mother been compared to the ‘late winter’s moon’?
Answer: During late winter, the moon appears pale due to the effects of fog. It does not as appear bright as during summer season. The mother’s face is colourless and pale, so it looks like the late winter’s moon.
Question 5: What do the parting words of the poet and her smile signify?
Answer: Poet’s parting words are, ‘See you soon, Amma’. These words signify the hope that there may be more years in the life of her mother. Her smile may be signifying various meanings. She is smiling, probably to make it a happy parting moment for her mother, or probably to hide her fears.