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'Presents from my aunts in Pakistan' - review

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Introduction

'Presents from my aunts in Pakistan' The subject of the poem "Presents from my Aunts in Pakistan" is that, a girl who was born in Pakistan and who has been growing up in England in an English way of life. One day when she was aware that she is going to get some gifts from her beloved aunts living in Pakistan she expected to get some ordinary western style of clothes I.e. denim and corduroy, but unfortunately she received some Pakistani styled clothes I.e. salwar kameez, Indian jewellery and sarees. So, this poem totally describes how she reacted and felt towards the incident happened. The purpose of the poem "Presents from my Aunts in Pakistan" is that the girl who has been described in the poem has been born in Pakistan and brought up in England in the English way of life and in parallel to their style of living. ...read more.

Middle

In line number twenty "I longed for denim and corduroy". From these two lines I have mentioned, I can prove that she liked the gifts sent from her aunts in Pakistan but she not in a country where it would be parallel to wear as though of the same style as of Pakistan. And she wanted to wear her own clothes which the English style would accept. Line number sixteen says "I tried each satin-silken top was alien in the sitting room". First of the word Alien means foreign, strange. Therefore when she wears the Pakistani styled cloth in her English styled built house it makes her feel that there is an alien standing in her house. Therefore she is feeling alienation, different. Major problem to her is that she was born in Pakistan and was brought up in England in English style of living therefore she is having two citizenship and she doesn't have a fixed nationality. ...read more.

Conclusion

This line proves her emotion of being happy of seeing the place of birth. This line also proves how closely she was ongoing with the English life style and with the English culture. Line number sixty-one says " My aunts in shaded rooms screened male visitors". This shows how the culture in Pakistan and the culture where she now lives is different. In the place where she lives now, she even takes her friends to her bedroom. See how different is the culture and way of living in Pakistan and England are different. From the whole poem the purpose was to show how different she feels when she received gifts from her aunts in Pakistan because the life style of English were more far than of the Pakistani's are. And the author wanted to make us understand how different and alienation she feels when she received the gifts. I think from his poem the author has achieved the target what he wanted to achieve and he has done an excellent job. ...read more.

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  1. Peer reviewed

    .Presents from my Aunts in Pakistan by Moniza Alvi

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    It is confusing to her as Marks and Spencers is so British yet her relatives feel comfortable wearing western clothing whereas she feels awkward in her Pakistani dress. In stanza five Alvi feels very differently to her British school friend with regards to the clothing, and she admires the beautiful, captivating patterns and detail on the salwar.

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    Instead of being critical of the clothes, the poet respects her aunts' attempt at keeping up with fashions of the time: the salwar bottoms are appropriately "narrow". The "salwar kameez" suggests familiar notion of exotic clothes worn by Asian women.

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    This makes us ashamed of the way people can act sometimes. [SB23]This seems to be as if she doesn't want to acknowledge her presents which be a parallel of her not wanting to acknowledge her roots and heritage.

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    The fact that she has "no fixed nationality" has made her feel as if she is not fully part of either culture. The poem uses a lot of visual detail to make us see the brightness and colour of Pakistan.

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    However she gives an imagery of her clothing or traditional name for example " Salwar Kameez" This is an example of the type of clothing that she wares.

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    Pakistani clothing is described as lovely, clearly shown in line 18-19 "I could never be as lovely as these clothes". Alvi, describing the elaborate clothing worn by Pakistani women, goes on to say "I couldn't rise out of its fire, half English" (Line 24-25).

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    tongue and therefore the language she feels the need to return to. The tone of the poem is again similar to that of "Presents from my Aunts in Pakistan", showing confusion and worry of how she is frightened she has lost her tongue.

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