Artistic Expression

Topics: Afghan cuisine, Culture, Saira Shah Pages: 5 (789 words) Published: March 23, 2015


Artistic Expression in “The Storyteller’s Daughter”
Erin Lowry
Instructor: Cynthia Williams
ENG317: International Voices
November 3, 2014

Artistic Expression is a way in which an artist, whether writer, painter, musician, or even just a regular person expresses themselves through art and imagination. We have all long read stories or heard songs that come from someone’s heart and maybe imagination. But what we don’t realize when we hear, read or see these expressions is that for some they are much more personal and may very well be based on something true and close to their hearts.

How many times have you gone to a museum and stared at a painting and wondered what the artist was thinking of; or where and whom? This is an example of artistic expression. Or maybe your favorite song that you listen to over and over again. These artists that put these things out there for all of us to see, hear, and read, they are putting their stories out for us to feel the way they feel.

Well when Saira Shah wrote her short story “The Storyteller’s Daughter”, she was doing just that. She wanted us to feel the way she felt when her father told her stories of his native homeland of Afghan. Saira was told these stories or at least what she thought was fairytales beginning at a young age. Her father was so proud of his heritage and his homeland that he wanted to share it with her.

He told her of a “magical place; the fairytale landscape you enter in dreams. Fountains fling diamond droplets into mosaic pools. Coloured birds sing in the fruit-laden orchards. The pomegranates burst and their insides are rubies. Fruit so abundant that even the goats are fed on melons. The water has magical properties: you can fill to bursting with fragrant pilau, then step to the brook and drink-and you will be ready to eat another meal” (Shah, S., 2003).

She continues on to explain the land in which her father did to her and then she finds out that this place is a real garden and is in Paghman, the Afghan capital. Her father goes on to say “Whatever outside appearances may be, no matter who tells you otherwise, this garden, this country, these are your origin. This is where you are truly from. Keep it in your heart, Saira jan. Never forget” (Shah, S., 2003).

But she also tells of how her father who felt most comfortable in the kitchen made sure that she and her family always knew where they came from and how to prepare traditional Afghan food. Even though she was part Indian as well because her mother was from India her father didn’t care, as far as he was concerned they were Afghan alone. This story is one of tradition but also of cultural concern.

In many cultures if you are raised outside of your native land you are considered a traitor of sorts and aren’t always welcomed back with open arms. And Shah knew this when she was young and had brought it up to her father who always wanted to go and visit his native land and show his children where they truly come from. To that he told her “Stories are like these onions-like dried experience. They aren’t the original experience but they are more than nothing at all” (Shah, S., 2003).

He goes on to speak of experience and when Shah says that when she becomes eighteen that she wants to visit her native land and have these experiences on her. That is when he says “If you would only grow up a little in the first place, then you would realize that you don’t need to go at all” (Shah, S., 2003). Saira’s father was a smart man who loved his country and his culture but knew that Afghanistan was in a war and that teaching his children of his land before this would be all the experience that they needed.

Sometimes to experience culture doesn’t always mean we have to travel to the lands in which the culture resides. If we are smart enough we will learn of these cultures on our own, through the experiences of those who have experienced them. We are all of different cultures and...
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