Presents from my aunts in Pakistan and Hurricane Hits England

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Both poems ‘Presents from my aunts in Pakistan’ and ‘Hurricane Hits England’, deal with an alien culture and hoe the two poets find it hard to adapt to, to Pakistan in Presents from my aunts, and England in Hurricane hits England. ‘Presents from my aunts’ is about a young Pakistani girl who moved from Pakistan when she was younger. She has grown up in England but still has connections with her aunts in Pakistan. She has memories of her other culture but she doesn’t quite feel part of it.

Her aunts send her beautiful, bright clothing that she loves but she doesn’t quite feel combatable in and she can’t familiarize with, ‘Salwar kameez, peacock blue and another glistening like an orange split open’. This simile shows just how vibrant and sparkling the clothes are that her aunts give her. She admires them a lot but they are not clothes she can feel quite right wearing. ‘Pink and white glass bangles snapped, drew blood’ This shows that the poet is not familiar with the culture as she was not sure how to put these bangles on. I tried each satin-silken top-was alien in the sitting room’

These elegant and vibrant clothes don’t fit in with the surroundings of England just as the poet feels she doesn’t fit in with her where her roots are in Pakistan. She feels that she could never be as beautiful as these clothes because she could never fit in with life in Pakistan even though there is a certain thing inside the girl that longs to be part of Pakistan. ‘I longed for denim and corduroy’ The poet describes how much the girl wants to be normal, but she still appreciates the glamour the clothes offer.

The clothes, to a certain extent are like wearing a costume and the girl feels that she couldn’t wear them in pride, as she should. ‘My costume clung to me and I was aflame’ But even though Alvi feels uncomfatable with the clothes, she still likes to be reminded of her roots, and gaze at them so she can imagine her country in her mind. ‘I wanted my parents’ camel skin lamp~ switching it on in my bedroom, to consider the cruelty and the transformation from camel to shade like stained glass’

The colours of the lamp reflect those of the clothes she is given by her aunts and she likes to gaze at the lamp to remind her of her roots. Her mother was given some Indian gold beautiful jewellrey that was dearly cherished but it was took away just like a part of her life when she moved to England. ‘My mother cherished her jewellrey, Indian gold, dangling, filigree, but it was stolen from the car’ The poet speaks of how the aunts requested cardigans from Marks and Spenser’s. This is a bit ironic how the aunts have all the wonderful, colourful clothes, but yet they want ordinary clothes.

This shows the crossing of the cultures and how we always long for something we haven’t and imagine their cultures and what it must be like. Even the girl’s school friend wasn’t impressed with the detail and beauty these clothes have to offer but the girl still admired the mirror-work in the clothes and as she looked into them, she vividly remembers Pakistan. She recalls from photographs leaving Pakistan and feeling alone and frightened in England where she feels more at ease with now than Pakistan.

She remembers reading about the country and how there was conflict and Pakistan was gradually breaking up. ‘When I was older there was a conflict, a fractured land throbbing through newsprint’ She imagines her aunts wrapping up her presents that are sent to her and the screen between the men and woman. Even though she doesn’t feel comfatable with the Culture of Pakistan, she is still is intrigued by it, and wants to understand where she comes from. The poem is full if images and the girl often imagines herself in Lahore in her own thoughts, even though she is not familiar with it.

The last part of the poem comes across as quite sad, ‘of no fixed nationality’ We imagine the girl as odd and not belonging, although the last two sentences end at the girl gazing through the beautiful Shalimar Gardens, as she is at the beginning, looking at the beauty of the clothes. The poem is written in free verse and the phrases are arranged loosely across the page. The stanzas are of varying lengths. Throughout the poem some things need to be emphasized more, so the line is separate ‘I longed

For denim and corduroy; This gives extra emphasis on this word and shows how much she really longs to be ordinary but at the same time sets the pace of the poem. It also helps us to picture that the girls thinking long and hard about her past culture and this is noticed more when the girl is thinking of personal memories. Also in the way which some things are mentioned lightly: ‘Indian gold, dangling, filigree, but it was stolen from our car’ The girl just mentions it is stolen and that is the end of that.

Her mother cherished it, but because she didn’t live there as long as her mother it’s not as important to her but its not something she can understand. There are mixed emotions throughout the poem where several objects from Pakistan cross over into the girls’ world in England. ‘Hurricane Hits England’ has the similar feelings expressed as those in ‘Presents from my aunts’. Both poems show how the two poets feel trapped in between two cultures.

Hurricane Hits England starts with somebody else speaking of the happenings that bought Nichols closer to the landscape and the culture of England, It took a hurricane, to bring her closer To the landscape. ‘ The hurricane prompts the poet to reflect living in England, and it was not until the hurricane came, it made her realise that wherever you are, ‘The earth is the earth is the earth’. In the next stanza, it is the autobiographical and she is addressing the gods’ as to why they are creating such a fuss in England as it is quite unusual for a hurricane to hit England, but she is used to them from her other culture. ‘Talk to me Huracan Talk to me Oya Talk to me Shango And Hattie,

My sweeping, back home cousin. ‘ The poet is questioning the gods , as why something that come from where she originally belongs come to England. Nichols feels as though maybe it has come to give her a message. She repeats the words ‘Talk to me… ‘ to create intensity and feeling and she is also trying to get answers from the gods because she is so confused. The hurricane reminds her a lot of the Caribbean, and it is very strange for her. The storm creates a lot of immense chaos and we wonder weather the hurricane has come to help Nichols to adapt to England.

As the hurricane creates havoc, at the same time the woman feels as though the feeling of been trapped as passed over her, ‘The blinding illumination, Even as you short- Circuit us Into further darkness’ As the sky is been lit up, so is the soul within the poet. There are trees been uprooted, just as Nichols was from her roots. Constantly, the woman is trying to make sense of the hurricane. It’s the first time comfortable in England, even though it’s creating mess in England it is something she is used to from back home so therefore she feels comfortable with it.

‘Falling as heavy as whales their crusted roots their created graves. ‘ There is a lot of natural imagery used throughout the play so that we can feel the hurricane by the words used. ‘Oh why is my heart unchained. ‘ This line is quite important to the poem and has a separate line to appear to look more important to the rest of the stanzas. This line is more personal and is talking specifically about the effect of the poem on her rather than the landscape. Nichols is finally adapted and coming to terms with living in England and can finally let go of her other culture and live the rest of her life in England in freedom.

She now calls out to the gods again, telling them how she understands why they are here, as they have given her that freedom and the hurricane is something what she has needed all this time. ‘I am aligning myself to you, I am following the movement of your winds I am riding the sweet mystery of your storm. ‘ She refers to the storm as a ‘sweet mystery’ as she is very grateful for the coming of the storm. ‘Come to brake the frozen lake within me. ‘ By been away from her country she felt ‘frozen’ and unable to feel part of England. The hurricane as broken this ice and allows her to settle.

Come to let us know the earth is the earth is the earth’ The poet finally realizes no matter where you are living the earth is very beautiful and full of wonderful things throughout the earth and this relieves the poet. The poem is split into three sections, The first is the reported part and then the autobiographical part about what effect the hurricane is having on the world, and then the last part is where the poet is free from feeling trapped.

A lot of echoes are used to create rhythm and get the image of the woman pleading at the gods. Talk to me….. ‘ ‘Talk to me….. ‘ ‘Talk to me…. ‘ Or ‘The earth is the earth is the earth’ The language at the end shows us how exited the woman gets from power of the hurricane. Even though in the poem a lot of havoc is created, and the hurricane is very destructive, it creates something very positive inside the woman. She is able to fit in with the surroundings of England and no longer crave for the Caribbean. The two poems explore the feelings that the two poets have in living in an alien culture and feeling very trapped.

The poem ‘Presents from my aunts’ has some difference because the poet does not feel uncomfortable of living in England but she feels that she doesn’t belong to either England or Pakistan ,whereas Nichols feels uncomfortable living in England and misses her back home country. The endings are also different. Nichols has began to feel comfortable living in England but Alvi feels as though she is still of no ‘fixed nationality’ even though she is able to appreciate both countries and it has an uncertain and saddened ending.

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