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14 Jun

The Mask: Kamala Suraiya

The Mask

Kamala Suraiya

I 1. b

  2. d

  3. a

II 1. ‘Piety’ means devotion to God. Here it means the girl’s devotion towards her lover.

    2. Because it depicts the man in an adorable and respectful light.

    3. Sun is described as ‘splintering’ because the reflection of the sun in the moving river breaks into a thousand fragments.

    4. The lover’s desire is compared to the sun because it is transient and short-lived. It rises with all splendour and glory, but it sets pretty soon, leaving the world in the dark.

    5. By repeating the word ‘transient’, the poet emphasises the transience and fleeting nature of the lover’s love and desire.

III 1. In the poem ‘The Mask’, the poetess Kamala Suraiya describes the mask of the lover in vivid detail. The beginning of the poem gives us the impression that the poet loves the mask, for, when the lover wears the mask he is so virtuous and affectionate. She wishes to love him without causing his mask to crack. She acknowledges that she cherishes the mask more than his real face. It evokes piety in the onlooker; it glows like the sun against the horizon when he speaks to his adorers.

2. ‘The Mask’ by Kamala Suraiya ends on a note of utter helplessness. The poet is helpless because she unwittingly has fallen in love with the mask of the lover and cherishes it more than his real face. Her survival itself is jeopardised by his rejection. She wonders how she can survive the aftermath of love. She doesn’t know how to cope with the sudden awakening in him of reasons. Significantly, though she is helpless and broken, there is no sign of bitterness or vengeance in her words. She still loves him passionately despite his selfishness and insincerity.

3. The poem ‘The Mask’ by Kamala Suraiya revolves around two detailed questions that the poet poses. The poem begins with a question and ends with a question. A brief statement emphasising the transience of the lover’s love and desire completes the poem. As the poem begins, the poet asks how she can love her lover without causing his mask to crack. A detailed description of the mask follows. Towards the end, the poet wants to know how she shall survive the aftermath of love and the sudden awakening of reasons in the lover. Both the questions suggest  that despite her helplessness and despite his insincerity, she still wants to love him.

4. In the poem ‘The Mask’, the poetess Kamala Suraiya uses brilliant images to portray the grief and helplessness experienced by a girl jilted by a selfish lover. She creates amazing poetic images in her quest to show her profound and innocent world of emotions. The mask that the lover wears glows like an auburn sun against the horizon. His passionate voice is compared to wine, the adorers’s ears are likened to goblets and the process of communicating ideas is compared to pouring wine into goblets. The lover’s love is as transient as the splintering sun in the moving river. The leap of desire in his eyes is as momentary as the rising sun. To crown it all, the miserable condition of the girl after being rejected is compared to a silent Nokia phone.


Copyright © Manu Mangattu, Assistant Professor, Department of English, SGC Aruvithura

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