The poet, Kamala Das also wrote by her pen-name of ‘Madhavikutty’. She was born in Kerala and is one of India’s first poets. Her subject – matter is basically related to her personality- beautiful, sensitive, bold and tormented. External factors do not reflect in her writings, her writings bring out her true inner feelings. Her favourite poem is ‘composition’.
In the poem ‘My mother at sixty six’, she talks about her mother. This poem is based on mother-daughter relation and the poet shares her feelings for her mother. Firstly, when the poet is on her way to the cochin airport with her old mother sitting beside her, she looks at her closely and presents before us her image. She compares her with a corpse.(similie is a figure of speech to show comparison between her mother’s face and a corpse.) As she looks at her mother’s pale and pallid face, she is struck with the horror and pain of losing her. The mother with the dozing face and open mouth is compared to a corpse. Here, the poet shows the typical love and affection which is present in a mother-daughter relation.The poet is pained and shifts her attention outside the car in order to drive out the negative feelings. She changes her sad mood .The scene outside the window is of growing life and energy. The rapidly sprinting trees alongside the merrily playing children symbolize life, youth and vitality. The poet here is reminded of her own childhood when her mother had been young whereas now she is encircled with the fear of losing her and that has made her insecure. She is at the airport to take a flight. It indicates departure and separation which creates melancholy. As she bids goodbye to her mother, the image of the old, wan, worn out mother in the twilight of years strikes her again. Here again a similie is used to compare her mother with a late winter’s moon whose light is obstacle by fog and mist As she looks old now, her personality is affected by it. The poet is feeling the pain of separation, leaving her mother and going. Also, her childhood fear of losing her mother which she feels that earlier was temporary but now, could be forever as she could die of old age, is haunting her. She is so pained that it is natural for her to cry but keeping a brave front she hides her tears and smiles. She bids farewell to her mother and keeping her hope of seeing her again alive, says “see you soon, Amma”. She hides her sorrow as she does not want to create a painful environment for her mother and conveys her that as she is enjoying her life similarly her mother should also be happy and enjoy her life.
(The poem revolves around the theme of advancing age and the fear that adheres to its loss and separation. It is a sentimental account of the mother’s approaching end through the eyes of the daughter. The seemingly short poem touches upon the theme of the filial bond between the mother and daughter smeared in the backdrop of nostalgia and fear. Nostalgia of the past(the time spent with the mother) and fear of the future without her.)
It is a short poem, without a full stop, the poem is like a long sentence, over flowing thought process. The poet uses the device of comparison and contrast, simile and repetition.
NEW / DIFFICULT WORDS
1) doze: a short, light sleep
2) ashen: very pale, like ash.
3) corpse: a dead body.
4) sprinting: here, shooting out of the ground.
5) spilling: here, to move out in great numbers.
6) wan : unnaturally pale, as from physical or emotional distress.
7) ache : pain.