My Mother at Sixty Six

 Written by Dr. Dipen Bezbaruah

Main Points of the poem

  • The poet is driving from her parent’s home to the Cochin airport.
  • Sixty six year old mother of the poet sits beside
  • The poet’s mother dozes with her mouth open.
  • Her face looks as pale as ashes.
  • The colourless, faded face of her mother arouses pain in the poet’s heart.
  • The poet turns away her attention from her mother and looks outside.
  • The world outside is full of life and activity. The trees seem running past and children seem to be playing in merriment outside their homes.
  • They undergo a security check up to the airport.
  • The poet stands a few yards away and looks at her mother again.
  • She looks faded and weak like the late winter’s moon.
  • The old familiar ache and fear that the poet felt in her childhood return.
  • Hiding her feelings the poet smiles wishing to meet her ‘Amma’ again.

Q. Where was the poet driving to?

  • The poet was driving to the Cochin airport from her parents’ home.

Q. What did the poet notice looking at her mother’s face?

  • The poet noticed her mother dozing  with her mouth open. She also noticed how her mother became as pale as ashes like that of a corpse.

Q. What did the poet realize looking at her mother’s face?

  • The poet realized with pain that her mother’s is in the old age of her life.

Q. What did the poet see when she looked outside?

  • The poet saw the trees running to the backside and the children moving out of their homes in merriment.

Q. What do ‘ Young trees sprinting’ and ‘merry children spilling out of their homes’ symbolize?

  • The phrase ‘ Young trees sprinting’  literally means running of young trees going past. However, the phrase also signifies energetic action of the youth. This energetic action departs from life with the advancing age. Similarly, ‘merry children spilling out of their homes’ signify the carefree stage of human life. Childhood is a period in which merriment finds supreme place. But as man grows, other thoughts replace the mind of a man as is seen in the poet.

Q. Why did the poet compare her mother’s face to a late winter’s moon?

  • The late winter’s moon lacks brightness as well as strength. In the same way, the poet’s mother’s face  became pale and colourless.  So the poet compares her mother’s face the late winter’s moon as both bear resemblance with each other .

Q. What was the poet’s childhood fear? How has it troubled her now?

  • The poet’s childhood fear was the fear of losing her mother. This thought has troubled her again after she happens to see her mother’s pale, and colourless faces.

Q. What does the poet’s parting words ‘see you soon, Amma’  suggest?

  • These parting words of the poet reveal both hope and fear. The poet’s fear is that anything can happen to her mother at the age of sixty six and also because of her deteriorating health condition at this age.  But she hides her real fear and instead expresses her hope that they will meet each other again.

Q. Why does the poet smile and smile and smile…?

  • The poet is very much pained at the deteriorating health condition and advancing age of her mother. She is, in fact, not sure whether she will happen to see her mother alive in their next meeting. But the poet has to leave her mother. What she can now give to her mother is a little solace and a bit of happiness filled with optimism.

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

  • The poet’s mother  is now at the age of sixty six. Moreover, her  pale and colourless face indicates her weakening health condition. The pale, colourless and corpse-like face of her mother renews her old fear of losing her mother. It is natural that time spares none. Just as time has made her mother lacking in her youthful vigour, in the same way, it is time that has deprived her of her merry childhood days. Separation in life in terms of death is inevitable as well as unavoidable. This the  kind of pain and ache that the poet feels.

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

  • The word ‘sprinting’ means ‘running’. In the poem the young trees  are described as sprinting. It is mainly because whenever we travel in a fast-running vehicle the objects outside seem to be running fast to the backward direction. Here the poet perhaps indicates the swift  passage of time.The running trees provide the stark contrast to the poet’s mother who is dozing in the car with little movement.