Q. What is the kind of pain and ache that the poet feels?
Ans. When 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. Ageing is a natural process. Time and ageing spare none. Time and ageing have not spared the poet’s mother and may not spare her as well. With this ageing, separation and death become inevitable.
Q. Why are the young trees described as ‘sprinting’?
Ans. The poet is driving to the Cochin airport. When she looks outside, the young trees seem to be walking past them. With the speed of the car they seem to be running fast or sprinting. The poet presents a contrast—her ‘dozing’ old mother and the ‘sprinting’ young trees.
Q. Why has the poet brought in the image of the merry children ‘spilling out of their homes’?
Ans. The poet has brought in the image of merry children ‘spilling out of their homes’ to present a contrast. The merry children coming out of their homes in large numbers present an image of happiness and spontaneous overflow of life. This image is in stark contrast to the ‘dozing’ old mother, whose ‘ashen’ face looks lifeless and pale like a corpse. She is an image of ageing, decay and passivity. The contrast of the two images enhances the poetic effect.
Q. Why has the mother been compared to the ‘late winter’s moon’?
Ans. The poet’s mother is sixty six years old. Her shrunken ‘ashen’ face resembles a corpse. She has lost her shine and strength of youth. Similarly the late winter’s moon looks hazy and obscure. It too lacks shine and strength. The comparison is quite natural and appropriate. The simile used here is apt as well as effective.
Q. What do the parting words of the poet and her smile signify?
Ans. The poet’s parting words of assurance and her smiles provide a stark contrast to the old familiar ache or fear of the childhood. Her words and smiles are a deliberate attempt to hide her real feelings. The parting words: “She you soon, Amma” give an assurance to the old lady whose ‘ashen face’ looks like a corpse. Similarly, her continuous smiles are an attempt to overcome the ache and fear inside her heart.