My Mother at Sixty-Six
My Mother at Sixty-Six:
Driving from my parent’s
home to Cochin last Friday
morning, I saw my mother,
doze, open mouthed, her face
ashen like that
of a corpse and realized with pain
that she was as old as she
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
About the poet .. Kamala Das (1934—2009) is one of the most unconventional, free-spirited, and non-conformist poets of Kerala. In India’s literary sky, she dazzles like a bright star inspiring fearlessness and defiance among young writers venturing to write on atypical ideas.
She grew up in Calcutta in a family of artists, but she suffered neglect and indifference. The unhappy childhood followed by her early marriage to a much elder husband caused her much delusion and pain. However, she defied these setbacks and set out to vent her feelings through her pen. She wrote extensively , under the shadow of her unhappy life, but the underlying pathos, empathy, most importantly, her iconoclastic style of some of her autobiography, poems, and short stories gets accolades from the liberals and derision of the puritans. She converted to Islam and became Kamala Surraya.
The poem .. Undoubtedly, Kamala loved her old mother very much. On one occasion, she was driving the car with her mother seated by her side. She was on her way to the Cochin airport. It was a Friday. Sometime into the drive, Kamala looked sideways at her mother’s face. She had dozed off, with her mouth half open. The cares and tribulations of her life had made her face pallid and wrinkled. The exuberance of youth had long deserted her. The face bore the scars of the suffering most women routinely and silently underwent in those times. Kamala was sad to see her mother’s face. A torrent of emotions swept through her mind.
To distract herself from this gloomy cloud, she took her eyes off her. The fleeting images of the trees passing by, and the group of young lively children coming out of their homes soothed her mind.
Soon she reached the airport, went passed the security check, and waved goodbye to her. Her mother’s pale lifeless face continued to torment Kamala, but she wanted to fight this gloom by smiling and smiling. She knew smile is the best panacea for despondency and darkness.
It was the indomitable Kamala.