Explore and discuss what it is like to belong to two different cultures, as shown in the poems “Presents from my Aunts in Pakistan” and “Search for my Tongue”
Culture is the way you live your life, the way you exist, the way you survive. It is the area that you live in, the cuisine that you consume, the clothes that you dress in, the dialect that you dictate, the way you commemorate special occasions and the way you worship and believe in a religion. The poems “Presents from my Aunts in Pakistan” and “Search for my Tongue” show how being part of two very different cultures can be both a negative and positive experience. The poem “Presents from my Aunts in Pakistan” is about a girl who sails to England from Pakistan. Years later, she receives presents from her Aunts who live in Pakistan. She obtains a salwar kameez from her Aunts, an item of clothing that originates from Pakistani culture. The clothes do not fit in with England’s latest fashion and she is not sure as to whether she likes the salwar kameez. She states that she is “alien” meaning foreign when she wears the clothes which shows she may be ashamed or embarrassed, she also states that “she was aflame” which could mean she is lit up by the clothes, standing out of the crowd, unique. The poet of “Presents from my Aunts in Pakistan” is called Moniza Alvi, she was born in Lahore, in Pakistan. She was the daughter of an English mother and a Pakistani father. They moved to Hertfordshire in England when she only a few months old, just like in the poem; this suggests that the poem is autobiographical. The poem “Search for my Tongue” is about the problems you face with your language, when you move from one culture to another. The girl expresses her feelings about knowing two “tongues” meaning languages. She explains how uncomfortable it is to have two “tongues” in her mouth, until she has a dream and her mother tongue takes over, it “blossoms out of her mouth”. The poet, Sujata Bhatt, was born in Ahmedabad in India; she emigrated to the USA with her family in 1968. The two languages in the poem must be from India (Gujerati) and American. This shows that the poem is autobiographical. In this essay I am going to examine in detail and explain the girl’s experiences and view of being part of two cultures and also speaking two different languages. In “Presents from my Aunts in Pakistan” the girl has mixed feelings of belonging to two different cultures. In some ways she feels positive about it. Firstly in lines 1-15, she seems to like the clothes she receives the colours are exotic and luxurious “peacock blue”, “apple green”, “candy striped” are all attractive and beautiful colours. Also “glistening like an orange split open” forms an image of an orange opening and something amazing inside, which longs to shine out; this is a vivid metaphor. Consequently, sometimes she feels uncomfortable the bangles “drew blood”. This shows that they cause the girl pain and produces negative images in your mind. Also the “salwar bottoms were broad and stiff” which suggests they were uncomfortable. In lines 16-26 she seems to feel negative about the clothes, as she tries on the clothes, she feels out of place, “alien” meaning foreign. She also feels alien because she is wearing Pakistan’s culture clothes “salwar kameez” in an English “sitting room”. When the poet says “my costume clung to me” she means that she is smothered by the clothes and as well she feels “aflame” which means she is embarrassed. However it could mean that she feels unique, and as if she stands brightly within a crowd. She “couldn’t rise up out of its fire” showing again that she is smothered and embarrassed by the clothes. Also, the poet feels like she does not deserve the clothes. In lines 27-33, she wishes she could have her parents gift from the Aunts, the “camel-skin lamp”. She “considers the cruelty” meaning that a camel has been skinned to make the lamp, a sign of suffering for...
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