My Mother at Sixty-six Summary Class 12 English

My Mother at Sixty-six Summary Class 12 English

About the poet

Kamala Das (1934-2009) was born in Malabar, Kerala. She is recognised as one of India’s foremost poets. Her works are known for their originality, versatility and the indigenous flavour of the soil. Kamala Das has published many novels and short stories in English and Malayalam under the name ‘Madhavikutty’. Some of her works in English include the novel Alphabet of Lust (1977), a collection of short stories Padmavati the Harlot and Other Stories (1992), in addition to five books of poetry. She is a sensitive writer who captures the complex subtleties of human relationships in lyrical idiom, My Mother at Sixty-six is an example.

Explanation of the Poem

Stanza 1 

“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”


The poet had gone to visit her parents’ home near Cochin. She had been returning home last friday, when on her way to the airport, she noticed her mother sleeping beside her in the car. Her mouth was open and her face was pale and lifeless, just like a dead body.

Stanza 2 

And realised 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


The poet was alarmed by the sudden realisation that old age had crept upon her mother. It was a reality she found hard to accept. To take her attention away from the disturbing thought, she looked outside the car.

Because the car was moving, the young green trees appeared to be running in theoppositedirection.Shealsosawa group of children rushing out oftheir homestoplay.

All this probably reminded her of her childhood when her mother was young. The young sprinting trees represented how fasttime hadflownby.Thechildren represented youth, which was full of life and energy. Both the young trees and the children presented a sharp contrast to the mother sitting beside her who was old and suffering from ill-health.

Stanza 3

“But after the airport’s
security check, standing a few yards
away, I looked again at her, wan, pale
asalate winter’s moon”


The young children and trees were able to divert her thoughts away. But after reaching the airport and passing throughsecurity check, the poet again looked at her mother, who was standing a few yards away from her. Her mother looked lifeless and dull like a late winter’s moon, which cannot be seen clearly because of mist and fog.

Stanza 4

“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 … “


Once again,she was pained to see her mother in this condition.As she was going away and leaving her mother,her old familiar pain,her childhood fear that she would lose her mother, suddenly came back to her. So she tried to hide her emotions behind her smile. She did not want to reveal her feelings to her old mother and bade her farewell with a smile. She gave hope to her mother and herself by saying that they would meet again and kept on smiling.


The given page numbers correspond to the pages in the NCERT textbook.

Page 90

  • doze  –  sleep lightly
  • ashen –  very pale with shock, fear or illness
  • corpse – a dead body
  • spilling out – rushing out
Page 91

  • wan – pale and giving the impression of illness or exhaustion
  • ache – pain

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