My Mother at SixtySix / KAMALA DAS / Page 1 My Mother at SixtySix Kamala Das – as a poet of the first water Kamala Das is a tale weaver – weaving the rhythm of life into a tale of soul – a poet who loves to be loved in silence. She says, “I wanted to fill my life with as many experiences as I can manage to garner because I do not believe that one can get born again”. This poem is an example of such experience with oozing agony and melancholy – beleaguered with modern economic system.
Summary of “My Mother at Sixty-Six” On a gray day, the speaker leaves her mother as well as her home to win her bread, while her mother with a long face stands and stares. The speaker easily filters her glimpses through the plethora of unfamiliar faces. When a bouquet of cheerful children is caught fluttering in the open with sheer alacrity, revives in her the smarting childhood agony of a mysterious premonition, that is, losing her mother. Reviving from the psychological flickers at once, she sees her mother is shielded inside a pal of benumbed silence.
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Still the airport hums, as the passengers are requested to filter through the custom’s care. Still a helpless mother, with wrenching heart and swelling emotion, bids a helpless goodbye to her helpless daughter. Strangeness added to beauty The readers are proud of having read such a poem built on the agony of a wrenching heart that resides in a child for her mother. The poet looks into the gray olden age strumming the strings of childhood life. Bringing of the sportive children restores vivacity into the relationship.
So we may without having a tinge of hesitation say, a mother’s love is helplessly trampled under the technological terror of airplane wheels. Focus Mother stands in her life like a tree, on whose branch swings the childhood of the daughter. 1. Relationship – Relationship is the nucleus of the poem. It seems love creates an unfading relationship and it wields its brush over at least two souls and assigns a meadow of agony with a river of fecundity. 2. Nostalgia – The speaker is carried away by her childhood premonition of losing her mother. My Mother at SixtySix / KAMALA DAS / Page 2 My Mother at SixtySix . Sense of isolation – A deep sense of never-happened-before isolation creeps into the heart of the speaker. 4. Time of being nuclear – Poet Eunice de Souza claims that Das has “mapped out the terrain for post-colonial women in social and linguistic terms”. We fear of losing the mother’s touch and smell in time of this narrow domestic life. 5. Establishment and Ambition – Just to satisfy her economic appetite she is bound for some handsome income. Poet Eunice de Souza claims that Das has “mapped out the terrain for post-colonial women in social and linguistic terms”.
Yet, a slight touch of establishment and a grown-up ambition cannot cut off the branch of relationship. 6. Transport of filial piety – A transport of filial piety is observed filtering through the unfamiliar faces, fettered with custom officers’ mandatory checking. 7. A silent agony – The speaker is overtaken by a terrible numbness. An awkward silence creeps into her being. She fears looking back at the slinking childhood of losing her mother’s magnanimous shadow. Her mother is presumably taken to be motionless and still – ‘dead’ to say in brief.
The destination is worthy of its name too – Cochin – signifying ‘sleep’ – clearly signifies that the speaker would soon see her mother to be a denizen of the other world. 8. Vitality of relationship – Children spill over, and yet again spring out vitality, vivacity and velocity of life. The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. So losing her mother is nothing but an idiosyncratic outlook? Her mother is not going to sink in death, since her child keeps breathing – since other children are still there to make the earth rotate. Reading between the lines The daughter evinces her mother silently suffer.
She finds her mother heartbroken… she smiles away her agony though… she accepts her future loneliness… bereft of mother… having the unluckily lucky opportunity to love her absence, tread her shadows, and swing into the painfully happy nostalgia of a hallowed past. At the fag end of the poem, we see the mother stay as a neverending song in the speaker’s heart of comfort, happiness and being. The destination is worthy of its name – Cochin – signifying ‘sleep’ – clearly signifies that the speaker would soon see her mother to be a denizen of the other world.
The debilitated mind of the mother is experiencing a serious symphony. The airport ongoings of checking and rechecking cannot even drift away the slightest My Mother at SixtySix / KAMALA DAS / Page 3 My Mother at SixtySix wrinkle left on the face with sorrows. Her slow and silent movement is disrupted, her shadow is brought under the hammering wheels of the airplane. Her unbidden prayers cling to her all her life. Poet Eunice de Souza claims that Das has “mapped out the terrain for postcolonial women in social and linguistic terms”. About the word “Mother” ‘Mother’ fills the topmost rank in the list of most-used words.
She carries the key of one’s soul in her bosoms. The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. “Being a full-time mother is one of the highest salaried jobs in my field, since the payment is pure love” (Mildred B. Vermont). A mother is something absolutely new. A mother is priced of God. The never-extinguished love Love is a soothing balm over the wounds of expectation and waiting. That’s why love makes a dare infiltration even if the security of a heart is steel-tightened. Here, the mother’s love steals away with the booty – the soul of her child. Hence, love is not to mean, but be.
The talking soul of the speaker – the silent monologue vanishes into the fading half of the day, but the journey continues, as every journey of a relationship need to be continued… “spilling over”… with optimistic enjoyment abundant. Appraisal of the Title The title, “My Mother at Sixty-six” is an excellent example of showing an everunfailing relationship between a daughter and her mother. Nostalgia smeared in separation appears to be the default setting of the poem. The title scrutinizes every mother lumbers towards the age, 66, with care or without care. But this very mother gets to the same age through the growing eyes of her daughter.
The number 66 also points out to the beginning of double quotation marks. It seems Kamala Das indicates the estrangement has just begun, and it’s absolutely way afar to meet the end. It also sounds a little ambiguous, since the daughter, for the first time, notices her mother has stepped into the wrong box of sixty six. In some Hermetic systems, 6 means “beauty,” and the speaker’s mother appears more beautiful. 6 + 6 = 12, the number of signs in the Zodiac, and so may represent the totality of Creation. So, sixty-six signifies a mother is the symbol of the totality of Creation.