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My Mother at Sixty Six by Kamala Das

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, 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 driving from her parent’s home to the Cochin airport last Friday morning. Her mother was sitting beside her. She was sixty six years old. The old lady was dozing. Her mouth remained open. Her face looked pale and faded. It was grey like ash. It looked lifeless like a dead body.

The lifeless and faded face of her mother pained her heart. The old lady seemed to be lost in her own thoughts. The poet turned away her attention from her mother and looked outside. The world outside was full of life and activity. The young trees seemed running fast. The children looked happy while moving out of their homes.

When they were at the airport, they had to undergo a security check. The poet was standing a few yards away from her mother. She looked again at her old mother. She felt pained to look at the colourless, lifeless and pale face of her mother. Her face looked faded like the late winter’s moon which had lost its shine and strength. This aroused the old familiar ache in the poet’s heart. Her childhood fear overpowered her again. However, she controlled herself. She appeared to be normal. She scattered smiles on her face while saying good bye to her. She wished to see her old Amma again.

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