SUMMARY of the poem Mirror by Nini Lungalang which is a part of the syllabus of class 9 English for students studying under Nagaland Board of School Education: The poet feels that although the people find a lot of similarities between her mother and her, the mother is not happy about this. However, the poet does not blame her mother. She feels they have learnt to respect the space. The poet feels this similarity is because the mother has invested a lot of emotions in her. These had begun even before her birth. After she was born, the mother felt more strongly because before her birth she was just a nebulous thought after she was born the hope became a tangible hope and a palpable joy. The mother saw her in her daydreams imagining her to be the way she wanted her to see.
This distance is the mother’s dreams and reality evokes anger in the daughter. She wept in frustration. She felt hopeless because she could never be the child of her mother’s dreams. Yet, despite this, there is a lot of her mother in her just like she has a lot in her own daughter.
1. What does the mother not like?
Answer: The mother does not like when people say that her daughter looks like her.
2. What were the Mother’s feelings before the birth of the poet?
Answer: The mother felt that her daughter was just a nebulous wish, a tangible hope, and a palpable joy before the birth of her daughter.
3. How did the feelings change over the years?
Answer: The mother seemed to be disappointed. Her previous hopes and imaginations about her daughter which did not come true appeared to have been given way to dissatisfaction over the years.
4. What do you think has led to this change?
Answer: I think the poet did not turn out to be like how her mother wanted her to be. Though the mother had her own hopes and desires before the birth of the poet, after her birth, the mother must have realised that her hopes were in contradictory with reality. This might have caused disappointments over the years for the mother.
5. Both the mother and daughter are unhappy. Pick words/phrases that reflect this.
Answer: Words/phrases that reflect this are:
“I do not think this pleases her
It cannot please her
I do not blame her
But we’ve learnt, she and I
To live in our own mirror.”
1. What do you think is the mood of the poet? Why do you think so?
Answer: The poet in the poem Mirror by Nini Lungalang has resigned to her fate. I think so because she has a feeling of hopelessness. She is in despair and dissatisfied with herself. She has not lived up to her mother’s expectations and dreams which are visible in her words and behaviour.
2. What do these lines suggest?
a) But we’ve learnt, she and I
To live in our own mirror.
Answer: They have learnt to respect each other.
b) Because before my birth
I was just a nebulous wish in her
Answer: The poet before her birth was a hope, inside her mother’s womb. The mother dreamt of her as she wanted her to be.
c) She’s stamped herself soul-deep in me
Answer: The mother nurtured the poet to be like herself before and after her birth.
3. What does the poet call ‘the Phantom child’? Why?
Answer: The poet calls the child that was inside the mother’s womb a ‘the Phantom child’.
She called her so because while she was still unborn, her mother had many expectations from her which she could not fulfil and she feels constantly compared to the child she was in the hopes of her mother before her birth – the child she could not become.
4. Do you think the child of the mother’s dreams and the reality are different? Give reasons.
Answer: Yes, I think the child of the Mother’s dreams and the reality are different. It is so because in the poem Mirror by Nini Lungalang, the mother wanted the phantom child which was the result of her wishes and dreams but she realised after her birth that she was in contradictory to her dreams and felt disappointed in her. She constantly compared her daughter with the daughter she wanted to have. She tried to stamp herself on her daughter but it did not make the poet anything like her mother’s dreams. So whenever anyone compared the poet with her mother she would not feel pleased.
7. Read the lines from the poem and answer the questions that follow.
a) I know why I looked a lot like my mother
She’s put much of her into my making
After my birth, as well as before;
More after my birth
Because before my birth
I was just a nebulous wish in her.
i) What does the Poet look like?
ii) Why does she resemble her mother?
iii) What words show that the mother was looking forward to having her baby?
iv) What is the mood of the Poet?
Answer: i. The poet looks a lot like her mother.
ii. She resembles her mother because her mother has invested a lot of time and effort before and after her birth.
iii. Nebulous wish, daydream, tangible hope, palpable joy.
iv. The poet seems to be angry and frustrated because she did not turn out to be like the way her mother wanted.
b) Sometimes I’d see the phantom child
And it would not anger me to unreasoning hatred,
I’d see in the things she’d say
‘Why aren’t you? Why can’t you?
Why do you always ……? Why do you never …
And I would weep in wild frustration,
Weep hot and helpless, hopeless tears;
Hopeless, because I’d recognize, even then,
My invulnerable rival, my little enemy
i) who is the phantom child being referred to?
ii) How does the mother react to her daughter?
iii) How does the daughter feel?
iv) Who is ‘my little enemy?
Answer: i. The Phantom child refers to the poet herself when she was mothers womb.
ii. The mother seems disappointed with her daughter and expresses her dissatisfaction on her by constantly comparing her with the phantom child that she once wanted her daughter to be when she was still in her womb.
iii. The daughter feels frustrated, angry, and hopeless.
iv. The little enemy is the version of the poet herself in accordance to her mother’s dreams that she couldn’t become.
c) So you see, I look a lot like my mother.
She’s stamped herself soul-deep in me
With things that are of hers
And things that are of hers
And did not want to be……
Yes, I look a lot like my mother
And my daughter looks
A lot like me.
i) What words show that the daughter is essentially like her mother?
ii) How does the poet view these resemblances?
iii) What does the poet say about her daughter?
iv) What is the poem about?
Answer: i. The poet essentially looks like her mother. The words that describe this are:
“So you see, I look a lot like my mother.
She’s stamped herself soul-deep in me”
ii. The poet views these resemblances as traits inherited from her mother.
iii. The poet say about her daughter that she looks a lot like her like she looks a lot like her own mother.
iv. The poem Mirror by Nini Lungalang is about the hopes and expectations of a mother for her unborn child and how reality can be often in contrast with the hopes and often people fail to move away from the disappointments. People get bitter when reality confronts, like the case of the poet’s mother, and fails to see other aspects and silver linings. It is also about how we being imperfect, want others to be perfect.
Ron’e Dutta is the Co-Founder and Editor of Online Free Notes. He is a journalist, a blogger, a creative writer, and a teacher. He is currently writing his first thriller novel on time-travelling. Read the prologue of the novel here. Connect with him on social media.