In this poem, Kamala Das presents a daughter’s anguish (pain) as she is leaving her ageing mother behind her for a while. She is going to board a flight and is not sure about her timely return in case something happened to her mother.

Way to the airport

The poet was going to the Cochin international Airport. She was probably in a taxi. It is certain that she was going to a distant place for a long stay there. She was accompanied by her aged mother. The mother was very old, older than her age. During the journey the mother slipped into a doze. Her mouth remained open like that of a dead body. Moreover her face had lost the color of life. Her face was colorless, ashen.

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.

Meaning
  • Parent’s – Here, mother’s
  • Cochin – A town in Kerala (Kochi)
  • Beside – With
  • Doze – Sleep
  • Ashen – Grey (Old age)
  • Corpse – Dead body
Questions and Answers
  1. Where was the poet going? Who was with her?
    The poet was going to Cochin Airport. With her was her aged mother.
  2. How did the mother look like? Why did the poet feel sad seeing the mother’s appearance?
    The mother was sleeping inside the car with her mouth open. Her face was colorless like that of a dead body.
  3. Why does the poet relate the mother’s appearance to that of a corpse?
    The poet’s mother was aged. At sixty six it was hard to tell how long she would live. Moreover, inside the car she was sleeping, her mouth held open and her skin so colorless like that of a dead body.
  4. Why is mother compared to a late-winter’s moon? Why did the poet smile in great pain? What was the poet’s childhood’s fear?
    More answers on the next page.
Next – A World of Contrasts

Biju John is an educational writer, educator and the author of OM - The Otherwise Men. He gives live classes on Skype and Facebook. You can attend his 3 Day Classes (English & Business Studies) in Delhi, Bangalore, Qatar and Dubai. His Contact number is 91 9810740061.

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