Study Guide

Maa Kamala in Homeless Bird

By Gloria Whelan

Maa Kamala

She's warm, strict, and loving to her house full of widows—think of her as a mama hen to Koly's baby bird, if you will (or if you're really into bird metaphors). Maa Kamala takes women in who have no other place to go, and without her kindness and generosity, Koly would be out on the streets—or worse. Koly loves Maa Kamala for helping her out of a tough spot, coming to appreciate the woman's strict rules when she gets herself into a bit of trouble by not following them.

Compared to the bossy, hard ways of Mrs. Mehta, Maa Kamala is a saint. When Koly and Tanu are ready to make it on their own, Maa Kamala tells them:

"You are women now and must make room for other widows here," she gently chided us. "Only don't forget us." There were tears in her eyes as well. (11.25)

It's clear that she really cares about these women. And when she says, "don't forget us," it seems she even thinks of them as family.

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