Amma Poem: Answers Summary Meanings

Here are given the word meanings, summary and solutions of the poem ‘Amma’ published in the Class 6 book Wind Chimes. 


Amma is a beautiful poem written by Tabish Khair and published in his collection ‘Where parallel lines Meet’. The poem appears to be a tribute to his grandmother – a simple poem about a child and his grandmother. It is a tribute to his grandmother. The poet is nostalgic about his childhood and not only he captures his ‘Amma’ but also the mood, seasons and food during his childhood days but also how the house is full of grandparent’s memories. He writes elaborate descriptions of his grandmother’s house. The poem is a rich exploration of the bond between a child and a grandparent but has gloomy undertones.

Word-Meanings: Poem Amma

flake – a bit or piece or layer; intimate – close, personal and private relationship; fragile – easily broken or damaged; shuffle – walk by dragging one’s feet, move from place to place; mended – repaired; respite – relief; marking – noticing, observing, and giving attention to; contours – an outline representing the shape and form of something; fragrance – pleasant smell; curtail – reduce.


A. Answer these questions with reference to the context.

  1. Down the stairs of this house where plaster flakes and falls…
    a. Whose ‘house’ is it?
    b. Why does the plaster ‘flakes and falls’?
    c. What does the speaker remember?
  2. …evaluating how soon,
    The past will collapse or how long the present last.

    a. Who is ‘evaluating’?
    b. Is the present any better than the past?
    c. In what sense will the past collapse?
  3. Though your collected steps never turn the corner into you
    In a starched and white sari, the fragrance of soap around you.

    a. Explain: collected steps never turn the corner into you.
    b. What can you infer about the person being talked about?
    c. What has happened to the person?


  1. a. The house belongs to the speaker’s grandmother.
    b. The house is very old.
    c. He remembers his grandmother’s echoing footsteps.
  2. a. The grandmother.
    b. Perhaps no. In the past, the house though old used to have children coming during the summer. In the present, the grandmother wonders how long will she and the house last.
    c. When the children stop coming or the house falls apart.
  3. a. Though her walking with effort will never make her visible physically, the poet can still feel her presence.
    b. The grandmother was very well liked by the poet and her presence can be felt in the house long after she is no more.
    c. She is no longer alive.

B. Answer these questions.

  1. Why do you think grandmother’s footsteps echo?
  2. Why does the grandmother have to wait for monsoons to repair the curtain?
  3. What does the speaker remember about summers in his grandmother’s house?
  4. What has changed about the house though the speaker says, ‘Nothing has changed’?
  5. What is the significance of the last line of the poem?
  6. What do we get to know about the grandmother from this poem?
  7. Explain the line: Through the intimate emptiness of its rooms and hall…
  8. Based on your understanding draw a character sketch of ‘Amma’ using clues from the poem.


1. The echo is mentioned here because the house is empty. But, the grandmother (Amma) is not alive and therefore it is in the poet’s memory that the echo occurs.

2. It is so because during summer the curtains provide respite from the sun but this shade from the sun would not be required much during monsoon season.

3. The coolness of the wet khus and the various ice drinks are mentioned herein in the grandmother’s house.

4. Here, it is the diminishing eyesight of the grandmother that has changed though things are the same way.

5. It means, there is no one living in that house and no need for any curtains.

6. Children were fond of their grandmother and liked to be with her. She, very well, knew the house. The house has her presence even years later as the poet feels the echo of her footsteps in the house.

7. It refers to the fact that the poet missed his grandmother and he knew very well the reason of the emptiness in the house i.e. she is not alive.

8. Amma was fond of her grandchildren and arranged for their coolness during summer. She took care that children enjoyed their favourite ice drinks. Children also loved her as they enjoyed their stay with Amma. She was meticulous about the time and its impact as she was anxious as to how long she or her old house would remain alive.

Poetry Appreciation

A. Pick out the expressions from the poem that convey the aging of the grandmother and the house.

B. Comment on the tone and setting of the poem.

C. The title of the poem ‘Amma’ is a palindrome. Think of five similar words of your own.



slow footstepsplaster flakes and falls
slowly you shufflethe emptiness of the rooms
arthritic jointswatered-down walls of khus
wore a blouse inside outnew tear in the curtains
in a starched and a white sari

B. The tone of the poem is nostalgic as it takes the poet to flashback past. The setting is of an old and dilapidated house of the poet’s grandmother.

C. A palindrome is a word, phrase, or sentence that reads the same backwards or forward–such as Madam, I’m Adam.

Some examples: level, deed, civic, radar, pop

Click here to read more about ‘palindrome’

Answers by Prerana Jyoti (Holy Family School – Farakka, W. Bengal

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