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My Mother At Sixty Six

Very Short Answer Type Questions: (1 Marks)

1. Who is the poet of the poem ‘My Mother at Sixty Six’?
Ans: Kamala Das is the poet of the poem ‘My Mother at Sixty Six’.

2. Where is the poet driving to?
Ans: The poet is driving to Cochin airport, to board her flight.

3. What did the poet Kamala Das notice when her mother sat beside her?
Ans: Looking at her mother sitting beside her, the poet Kamala Das noticed that her mother was dozing with her mouth wide open and her face was pale.

4. Find words from the passage that mean ‘sleep lightly’ and ‘dead body’.
Ans: Sleep lightly: Doze Dead body: Corpse.

5. Why is her mother’s face like that of a corpse?
Ans: Her mother’s face is ashen like that of a corpse because of the effects of old age on her body.

6. What do the words, ‘ashen’, ‘open-mouthed’ and ‘corpse’ signify?
Ans: The words ashen, ‘open-mouthed’, and ‘corpse’ signify ageing and decay.

7. Who looked out at ‘young trees’ from the car window?
Ans: The poet, Kamala Das, looked out at ‘young trees’ from the car window.

8. Where was Kamala Das born?
Ans: Kamala Das was born in Punnayurkulam, Malabar in Kerala.

9. What are the works of Kamala Das known for?
Ans: The works of Kamala Das are known for their originality, versatility and the indigenous flavour of the soil.

10. In what languages did Kamala Das write?
Ans: Kamala Das wrote in English and Malayalam.

11. Name two important works of Kamala Das.
Ans: Alphabet of Lust, a novel was written in 1977 and Padmavati the Harlot and Other Stories, a collection of short stories written in 1992.

12. What does Kamala Das capture in her works?
Ans: In her work, Kamala Das captures the intricate subtleties of human relationships.

13. What is the poet’s ‘familiar ache’?
Ans: The poet’s ‘familiar ache’ is her childhood fear.

Short Answer Type Questions: (2 Marks)

1. What is the kind of pain and ache that the poet feels? [2014]
Ans: The poet is pained to see her mother’s dull and colourless face. She is hurt to see that her mother’s face looks like that of a dead body. She realized that her mother was at the edge of her life, and her end was near. she is afraid of the fact that she may not see her mother alive next time. Though ageing is a natural process, seeing its effects on her mother makes her sad.

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2. How does the poet try to put away the thought of her mother approaching death?
Ans: The poet realised that her mother’s end was near. She finds it difficult to accept the fact of her mother growing old as it brings back to her mind her childhood fear of losing her mother. To put away such thought, the poet looked outside and noticed the sprinting tree and the happy children coming out of their house.

3. Why has the poet brought in the image of the merry children spilling out of their homes and the sprinting trees? [2013, 2016]
Ans: Sprinting trees and merry children coming out from the doors suggest new life and warm energy. The poet has used this imagery to bring out the contrast between children, who are energetic and full of life, and her mother, who is old, pale and lifeless.

4. Why are the young trees described as ‘sprinting’ and what do they signify? [2017]
Ans: The poet was driving a car with her mother. When she looked at the trees, they appeared to be ‘sprinting because the car was speeding past in the opposite direction. The ‘young trees’ represented life in contrast to her mother’s approaching death. It signifies a zeal and enthusiasm for life.

5. What do the parting words of the poet and her smile signify? [2015, 2019]
Ans: The poet’s parting words ‘see you soon Amma’ signify hope and assurance, not only to her but to her mother also that they will meet again. Her smiles are a deliberate attempt to hide her real feelings and to overcome the ache and fear inside her heart.

6. What is the ‘Familiar ache’?
OR: What is the poet’s childhood fear?
Ans: ‘Familiar ache ‘refers to the poet’s childhood fear of losing her mother. As a young child, the poet Kamala Das feared separation from her mother. She was very attached to her mother and completely dependent on her. She was afraid that she would lose her mother. This childhood fear revisits her, as she is bidding goodbye to her mother at the airport.

7. Why has the mother been compared to the late winter’s moon? [2012, 2014, 2015, 2017]
Ans: The poet compares her mother’s face to a late winter’s moon. Just as a ‘late winter’s moon’ looks colourless and dull because of mist and fog, the poet’s mother’s face looks pale and lacks shine due to old age. Moreover, winter is the last season, and old age is the last phase of life.

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8. What is the ‘merry children’ spilling out of their homes symbolic of? [2018]
Ans: As the poet looks out, in addition to sprinting trees, she also sees ‘merry children spilling out of their homes’. It is symbolic of children rushing out of their homes happily. It shows that children are free of cares and worries. Their innocence enables them to attain joy and happiness.

9. Explain the statement: “I saw my mother…………her face ashen like that of a corpse”. [2014]
Ans: While driving to Cochin airport, the poet saw her mother dozing. Her face looks pale and ashen-grey like that of a corpse. There was no shine on her face. The poet realized that her mother was approaching death. This pains the poet’s heart.

10. What is ‘juxtaposition’ of images? How is it used in the poem?
Ans: Juxtaposition is a literary technique in which two or more ideas, places, characters, and their actions are placed side by side in a narrative or a poem, to develop comparisons and contrasts. In the poem, we have a juxtaposition of the images of sprinting trees and merry children contrasted against the frailty and weakness of the poet’s mother, induced by old age.

11. Is the ‘airport’s security check’ an image? What does it signify?
Ans: The airport’s security check is an image. It evokes a picture of parting between the poet and her mother. After the security check is over, the poet cannot come out and rejoin her mother. She has to bid her goodbye and proceed on her journey.

12. Where is the poet going and who is with her?
Ans: The poet, Kamala Das, had spent some time at her parent’s home, and now she is on her way back. It is a Friday morning and she is going to Cochin airport to board her flight. Her old mother is with her and has accompanied her to see her off at the airport.”

Stanza Wise Question Answers

1. ” Driving from my parent’s [2012]
Home to Cochin last Friday
Morning, I saw my mother,
Beside me,
Doze open-mouthed, her face
Ashen like that of a corpse……..”

i. Where was the poet driving to? 1
Ans: The poet was driving to Cochin airport.

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ii. What did she notice when her mother sat beside her? 1
Ans: She noticed the mother’s ashen and almost lifeless face distraught with pain.

iii. Find words from the passage that mean ‘sleep lightly’ and ‘dead body’. 1
Ans: sleep lightly- Doze; dead body- a corpse.

iv. Why was her mother’s face like that of a corpse? 1
Ans: Her mother’s face was pale, dull and completely grey like ash, which made it look a corpse.

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.

i. What did the speaker do after the security check? 1
Ans: After the security check, the speaker stood a few yards away and looked at her mother again.

ii. Why did the poet compare her mother’s face to a late winter’s moon? 2
Ans: The poet compares her mother’s face to a late winter’s moon. Just as a ‘late winter’s moon’ looks colourless and dull because of mist and fog, the poet’s mother ‘s face looks pale and lacks shine due to old age. Moreover, winter is the last season, and old age is the last phase of life.

iii. What was the poet’s childhood fear? 1
Ans: The poet’s childhood fear is that she might lose her mother and never see her again.

3. But soon [2014]
Put that thought away and looked out at Young
Trees sprinting, the merry children spilling
Out of their homes

i. Who looked out at the young trees? 1
Ans: The poet looked out at the young trees

ii. Which thought did the speaker put away? 1
Ans: The poet put away the thought of her mother approaching death.

iii. What do young sprinting trees signify? 1
Ans: Young sprinting trees signify the energetic action of the youth.

iv. What did the poet see the children doing? 1
Ans: The poet sees the children coming out of their homes and playing.

4. ‘…and felt that old [2015]
Familiar ache, my childhood’s fear
But all I said was, see you soon, Amma,
All I did was smile and smile and smile…..’

i. What was the childhood fear that now troubled the poet? 1
Ans: The poet’s childhood fear is that she might lose her mother and never see her again.

ii. What do the poet’s parting words suggest? 2
Ans: The parting words ‘see you soon, Amma’, gives an assurance to the old lady that they will meet again.

iii. Why did the poet smile and smile? 1
Ans: The poet smile and smiles to overcome the ache and fear inside her heart.

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