2 Moniza AlviMoniza Alvi was born in Lahore in Pakistan, the daughter of a Pakistani father and an English mother. She moved to Hatfield in England when she was a few months old. She didn't revisit Pakistan until after the publication of her first book of poems - 'The Country over my Shoulder' - from which this poem comes.The poet says: “Presents from My Aunts...was one of the first poems I wrote. When I wrote this poem, I hadn't actually been back to Pakistan. The girl in the poem would be me at about 13.
3 Presents From My Aunts In Pakistan These words stand outFrom the English wordsJust as the presents doFrom her English clothesThey sent me a salwar kameezpeacock-blue,and anotherglistening like an orange split open,embossed slippers, gold and blackpoints curling.Candy-striped glass banglessnapped, drew blood.Like at school, fashions changedin Pakistan -In contrast to the dullcolours she usually wearsExotic fruit metaphor.also the insidemakes it seemirresistibleThey broke – like herlinks with PakistanAlthough a different culturehuman nature is universal
4 the salwar bottoms were broad and stiff, then narrow. My aunts chose an apple-green sari,silver-borderedfor my teens.I tried each satin-silken top –was alien in the sitting-room.I could never be as lovelyas those clothes –In contrast to the dullcolours she usually wearsShe’s more comfortable with thePlainness of English clothes thanthe bright colours of the salwar kameezThe presents makeher feel out of placein EnglandShe feels she can’t do theclothes justice. Like herclothes she feels plain
5 I couldn't rise up out of its fire, half-English, unlike Aunt Jamila. Child-like desire for somethingshe can’t haveShe’s more comfortable with thePlainness of English clothes thanthe bright colours of the salwar kameezI longedfor denim and corduroy.My costume clung to meand I was aflame,I couldn't rise up out of its fire,half-English,unlike Aunt Jamila.Refers to the legend ofthe phoenix risingfrom the flames – butshe can’t recreate thisShe is a mix of cultures.Unlike her aunt or friends, shedoesn’t really know where shebelongs
6 I wanted my parents‘ camel-skin lamp - switching it on in my bedroom, Child-like desire for somethingshe can’t haveI wanted my parents‘ camel-skin lamp -switching it on in my bedroom,to consider the crueltyand the transformationfrom camel to shade,marvel at the colourslike stained glass.The poet feels sorry for thecamel whose skin was usedto make the lamp. Thisreflects her own negativefeelings about changeBeautiful colours and expensive
7 My mother cherished her jewellery – Indian gold, dangling, filigree, The theft of her mother’s jewellery in England couldbe a metaphor for England stealing her PakistaniIdentity.My mother cherished her jewellery –Indian gold, dangling, filigree,But it was stolen from our car.The presents were radiant in my wardrobe.My aunts requested cardigansfrom Marks and Spencers.Humorous but regretfulas she never worethemArchetypal of England
8 didn't impress the schoolfriend who sat on my bed, asked to see The school friend’s reaction to theclothes contrasts with the poet’s –so the poet doesn’t entirely fit in inEngland eitherMy salwar kameezdidn't impress the schoolfriendwho sat on my bed, asked to seemy weekend clothes.But often I admired the mirror-work,tried to glimpse myselfin the miniatureglass circles, recall the storyFriend doesn’tlike anythingdifferentShe likes the Pakistaniclothes but can’t feelattached to them. She’salso trying to see heridentity.
9 Prickly heat had me screaming on the way. I ended up in a cot The real boat tookher away from herhomelandShe must have beenvery young whenshe lefthow the three of ussailed to England.Prickly heat had me screaming on the way.I ended up in a cotIn my English grandmother's dining-room,found myself alone,playing with a tin-boat.Demonstrates hermixed heritage
10 I pictured my birthplace from fifties' photographs. When I was older This refers to the war whenEast Pakistan split to becomeBangladeshShe can’t remember Pakistanso she has to imagine itThe split is compared toher confused identity –split just like her cultureI pictured my birthplacefrom fifties' photographs.When I was olderthere was conflict, a fractured landthrobbing through newsprint.Sometimes I saw Lahore –my aunts in shaded rooms,screened from male visitors,sorting presents,wrapping them in tissue.Her knowledge isbased on what sheread and heardAnother contrast toher own experiencesBrings the poem backto the original theme
11 Or there were beggars, sweeper-girls and I was there –of no fixed nationality,staring through fretworkat the Shalimar Gardens.
12 Or there were beggars, sweeper-girls and I was there – A less positive imageof PakistanOr there were beggars, sweeper-girlsand I was there –of no fixed nationality,staring through fretworkat the Shalimar Gardens.Sums up her feelingsof isolation and notbelongingA beautiful and famousplace in PakistanThere’s a barrierstopping her frombeing part of Pakistan
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