My Mother At Sixty-Six NCERT Class 12th English Question Answers (Kamala Das)

My Mother At Sixty-Six

Introduction

In ‘My mother At Sixty-Six’ Kamala Das captures the subtlety of human relationship in layrical idioms. She is driving to the Cochin airport with her mother who is at sixty-six. The old lady sits dozing with her mouth open. Her face looks pale and faded like a dead body. But then the poet looks outside. The trees seem to be racing fast and the happy children are moving out of their homes in groups. When she is about say goodbye, she looks at her mother again. It arouses the old familir ache of her childhood again in her heart.

Main Points

1. The post is driving from her parent’s home to the Cochin airport.

2. Her mother, who is sixty-six years old, is sitting beside her.

3. The old lady is dozing with her mouth open.

4. Her face looks pale and faded like ash.

5. It arouses pain in the poet’s heart.

6. The poet turns away her attention from her mother and looks outside.

7. The world outside is full of life and activity.

8. Trees seem running past and children seem to be enjoying while coming out of their homes.

9. They have to undergo a sercuity check at the airport.

10. Standing a few yards away, she looks at her mother.

11. She looks faded and weak like the late winter’s moon.

12. The old familiar ache and fear of the childood return again.

13. But she scatters smiles wishing to meet her old ‘Amma’ again.

Textbook Exercises

Think it Out

1. What is the kind of pain and ache that the poet feels?

Ans: The poet sees the pale and corpse-like face of her mother. Her old familiar pain or the ache returns. Perhaps she has entertained this fear since her childhood. Time or ageing spares none. They have not spared her mother and may not spare her too. With ageing, separation and death become unavoidable.

2. Why are the young trees described as ‘sprinting’?

Ans: It is our common experince. Whenever we travel by a fast-running vehicle, the standing objects appear to be running fast. The appearance of their fast-racing is described as ‘sprinting’. They provide a stark contrast to the passive old lady sitting inside the car.

3. Why has the post brought in the image of the merry children ‘spilling out of their homes’?

Ans: The contrast enhances the poetic effect. The poet’s mother who is sitting beside her is dozing. Her ‘ashen’ face looks lifeless and pale like a corpse. She is an image of ageing, decay and passivity. On the other hand, the children are gay and happy. They are moving out of their homes in large numbers. Here is an image of happiness and supontaneous overflow of life.

4. Why has the mother been compared to the ‘late winter’s moon’?

Ans: The simile used here is apt as well as effective. The poet’s mother is at sixty-six. She has shrunk to an ‘ashen’ face resembling a corpse. She has lost her shine and strength of her youth. Similarly, the late winter moon looks hazy, obscre, lacking shine and strength. Hence, the comparison is quite natural and appropriate.

5. What do the parting words of the poet and her smile signify?

Ans: The old familiar ache or fear of the childhood returns. It provides a stark contrast to the parting words of assurance and her smiles. The parting words: “See you soon, Amma” give an assurance of life to an old and weak lady. The mother’s ashen face’ looks like a corpe. Similarly, her continuous smiling is an attempt to overcome the ache and fear inside her heart.




Short Answer Type Questions

01. Where is the poet going and who is with her?

Ans: The poet is driving from her parent’s home to the Cochin airport. Her mother has come to see her daughter off. She is sitting beside her and dozing with her mouth open. The words ‘driving’ and ‘doze’ provide a good contrast. They give images of dynamic activity and passivity respectively.

02. Why does Kamala Das describe the young trees as sprinting?

Ans: Kamala Das is driving from her parent’s home to cochin. From the moving car, the young trees growing outsidee appear to be running with the speeding car. Hence, she describes them as ‘sprinting’.

03. How does the poet’s mother look like? What kind of images has the poet used to signify her ageing decay?

Ans: The poet’s mother is at sixty-six. She is sitting beside her. She is dozing as old people usually do during the journey. She keeps her mouth open. This is also a sign of old age. Generally old people have to keep their mouth open. Her face looks pale and faded lile ash. Actually, she is an image of death as her ‘ashen’ face looks like that of a corpse.

04. Why does the poet ‘put that thought away’ and looks outside?

Ans: The poet’s old mother is sitting beside her. She is dozing with her mouth open. Her face looks pale and faded. She looks lifeless like a corpse. Actually, she gives an image of passivity, decay and death. The poet needs a distraction, a change. Hence she looks outside where she gets a picture of life, happiness and activity.

05. What does the poet see happening outside?

Ans: The thought of the ageing mother at sixty-six occupies her mind. Her pale and ashen corpse-looking face brings to her mind the picture of decay and death. The poet needs a diversion and looks outside. Outside she watches young trees. They speed past them and appear as if they are sprinting. Then she sees gay and happy children making merry as they move out of their homes.

06. Describe the contrast of the scene inside the car with the activities going on outside. Describe the use of images that the poet employs to strike that contrast.

Ans: Inside the car sits an old mother beside the poet. She is at sixty-six and ageing. She is dozing and lost to herself. She keeps her mouth open. Her ‘ashen’ face is pale and lifeless like a corpse. The world outside provides a stark contrast. The ‘young’ trees seem to be running past or sprinting. The children are making merry. The image of the ‘dozing’ mother is contrasted with the ‘spilling’ of the choldren. The ‘ashen’ and ‘corpse-like’ face is contrasted with the ‘young’ trees ‘sprinting’ outside.

07. What does the poet do after the security check-up? What does she notice?

Ans: They have to pass through a security check-up at the airport. After it, the poet stands a few yards away. Before saying parting words, she looks at her mother again. Her face looks pale and colourless like the late winter’s moon. She presents a picture of ageing and decay.

08. Why does the poet feel her old familiar ache and what is her childhood fear?

Ans: The sight of her old mother’s corpse-like face arouses ‘that old familiar ache’ in her heart. Her childhood fear returns. The fear is that with ageing comes decay and death. Perhaps she herself may have to face all these things. This idea is quite painful and fearful to her.

09. With fear and ache inside her hearth and words of assurance on lips and simle on the face, the poet presents two opposite and contrasting experinces. Why does the poet put on a smile?

Ans The ‘wan, pale’ face of her mother at sixty-six brings an image of decay and death. Hence, it brings that old familiar ache and fear back. She fears the fate of man. But she has to put on a brave face. She compose herself and tries to look normal. She utters the words of assurance that they will meet again soon. She also tries to hide her ache and fear by smiling continuously.

10. Describe the poetic devices used by Kamala Das in ‘My Mother At Sixty-Six’.

Ans: Kamala Das’s ‘My Mother At Sixty-Six’ is rich in imagery. The use of simile is very effective. Her face has been described as ‘ashen’. The ashen face is ‘like that of a corpse’. Again the ‘wan, pale’ face of the mother is compared to ‘a late winter’s moon’. The poem excels in contrasts.




Important Stanzas For Comprehension

Read the stanzas given below and answer the questions that follow each:

1. 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 thought away, and

looked but soon

put that thought away, and

looked out at young

trees sprinting, the merry children spilling

out of their homes,

Word-Notes:

Driving- (here) driving the vechicle | Beside- by the side | Doze- dozing | Ashen- pale and grey like ash | Corpse- dead body | Thought away- (here) about to die | Put that thought away- (here) removed her thought from her mother | Sprinting- racing fast | Merry- happy | Spilling- moving out

Paraphrase. The poet was driving. She was going from her parent’s home to the Cochin airport. Her mother was beside her. She looked at her mother’s face. She was dozing. She kept her mouth open. Her face looked pale like ash and lifeless like a dead body. It pained her. Her mother appeared to be in a different world. She didn’t look alive. She looked at her again. But soon turned her attention away from her mother and looked outside. She looked outside at the young trees running past them. She looked at the happy and gay children coming out of their homes.

(A) Where was the poet driving to?

Ans: The poet was driving from her parent’s home to the Cochin airport.

(B) What did she notice while her mother sat beside her?

Ans: She noticed that her mother was dozing with her mouth open.

(C) Why was her mother’s face like that of a corpse?

Ans: Her mother’s face looked pale, faded and lifeless like a dead body.

(D) Find words from the passage which mean:

(i) felt (ii) sleep lightly (iii) dead body

Ans: (i) realised (ii) doze (iii) corpse.

1 (a) but soon

put that thought away, and

looked out at young

trees sprinting, the merry children spilling

out of their homes,

(A) Who looked out at young trees?

Ans: The poet or the daughter looked out at young trees.

(B) Which thought did she put away?

Ans: The poet put the tought of her ageing and decaying mother away from her mind. Her ‘corpse’ like ‘ashen’ face reminded her of her mother’s approaching death.

(C) What do young sprinting trees signify?

Ans:The young sprinting trees signify energetic action of the youth.

2. 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……………..

Word-Notes:

Security check- routine security check at the airport | Her- mother’s | Wan- colourless | Pale- faded yellowhish | Familiar- well known | Ache- pang, deep pain

Paraphrase. At the airport they had to undergo a security check. After that, the poet stood a few yards away, and looked at her mother again. She looked pale and colourless like the late winter’s moon. At that time the poet felt har old familiar pangs in her heart. Her old childhood fear returned. But she only bade goodbye to her ‘Amma’ and wished to see her again. She did nothing except smiling and smiling again.

(A) How were the young trees spriting?

Ans: As the car moved on, the young trees growing outside went past as if they were spriting.

(B) What did she see the children doing?

Ans: The happy choldren were moving out of their homes in large numbers.

(C) What did the poet do after the securty check?

Ans: After the security check up, the poet stood a few yards away and looked at her mother’s face again.

(D) Why did the poet compare her mother’s face to a late winter’s moon?

Ans: The late winter moon lacks brightness as well as strength. The pale and colourless mother’s face resembles the late winter moon.

(D) Find words from the passage which mean:

(i) running fast (ii) happy (iii) colourless

Ans: (i) sprinting (ii) merry (iii) wan

Source:- Laxmi Publication (P) Ltd