Problems in 'Presents From My Aunts in Pakistan'

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I am going to compare two poems from different cultures, one of which is ‘Blessing’ by Imtiaz Dharker which is about people living in India with very little fresh water and the other poem ‘Presents from my Aunts in Pakistan’ by Moniza Alvi, which is in relation to girl’s heritage living in the UK who receives clothes as presents from some relatives in Pakistan.

Culture is a general term for huge range of ideas such as art, traditions, knowledge and belief that is shared b country, race or a group of people. The author of ‘Presents form my ……….’ Moniza Alvi was born in Lahore, Pakistan in 1954. She moved to England when she was few months old. Since then she did not return to Pakistan until after the publication of ‘Present form my aunt in Pakistan’.

She is the daughter of English mother and Pakistani father. ‘Presents form my ……….’ is an autobiographical poem. The speaker in the poem who is of mixed race, describe the gifts of clothes and jewelry sent to her in England by her Pakistani relatives. She is drawn to the loveliness of these things, but feels awkward wearing them. She feels more comfortable in English clothes. The poet is torn between two cultures that she feels she belongs to neither. She likes the clothes but she is embarrassed with them her knowledge to the birth place, which she left as a baby, comes to her only through old photographs and newspapers reports.

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Why Did Imtiaz Dharker Write Blessing

In the similar way the author of the poem ‘Blessing’, Imtiaz Dharker was also born in Lahore, Pakistan in 1954. She grew up in Glasgow and now she lives in the outskirts of Mumbai, India known as Dharvi where she works as a film maker. Dharvi is an unofficial area where millions of migrants have gathered. Dharvi is place where there is shortage of water. The poem ‘Blessing’ is set in Dharvi. It is about water, which is precious commodity to the local people of Dharvi. In the poem the water pie bursts and all the adults, old people rush out in the water to collect the precious commodity in any container they can get whilst the children play in the water.

‘Presents form my ……….’ is with the intention of it is a long poem with seven stanzas. The poem is written in free verses and the lines are arranged loosely across the page this reflects the commotion of ‘no fixed nationality’.

The first stanza is the longest because the port is describing her clothes from Pakistan. She is intrigues in the clothes. The port uses enjambment to speed the poem up. There are traces of alliteration throughout the poem. The effect that alliteration as on the poem is that it creates the tone within the poem.

‘Costume clung’

The length of the lines emphasize like

‘I longed’

On the other hand poem ‘Blessing’ is a short poem with four stanzas. Similarly this poem is also written in free verse to create the same effect in some parts of the poem. She also uses enjambment and there is lack of caesuras which mimics the bursting of the pipe as well as the chaos. The effect that the caesura have on the poem is that they make the poem flow at a fast pace. In the poem ‘Blessing’ the third stanza is the longest because there is more action going on. Enjambment is also used speed the poem just like the water. There isn’t a great deal of alliteration in the poem “blessing’ which affects the rhythm of the poem.

‘Small splash’

In the poem ‘Presents form my ……….’ The poet uses imagery in such a way to help us form a kind of ‘mental picture’ of the thing that is being described or the idea that is being explored. Images work in a number of different ways, for example, the poet can literally describe something, as Moniza Alvi describes the clothes as ‘Peacock blue’. This is called literal image. However, Moniza Alvi uses more devices in order to make the description more vivid. This kind of imagery is called figurative. There are a few similes used in the poem such as ‘glistening like an orange split open’, here she uses the similes to emphasize the description of the clothes. In addition to this she also uses metaphor and personification ‘was alien in the room’. The effect that these devices have is that they help make an image in the readers head.

Next there is aural imagery which is created through words which Moniza Alvi often makes use of images that is created through sounds. For example: onomatopoeia. The poet uses words like ‘snapped’. The poet here just tells us that how did it sound like when the glass bangle broke to make a aural image in the reader head and she uses onomatopoeia to create a sense of the sound. The rhythm of the poem is very smooth.

In the same way the poet in the poem ‘Blessing’ uses the same imagery device to make the similar effects. Imtiaz Dharker uses simile in the first line of the first stanza to create the effect of emphasizing how skin cracks when there is a lack of water and the pain that we go through when the

‘The skin cracks like a pod’.

Other than that she uses metaphor ‘The municipal pipe bursts, sliver crashes to the ground’ and personification ‘voice of a kindly God’. She use a metaphor to get the same effect of a simile but for a personification instead of saying water rashes to the ground she uses sliver because she is describing water as a big possession, money or currency. In other words water is like precious commodity to the local people of Dharvi. Imtiaz Dharker describes the water in religious terms as it is voice of God to them. The effect that this personification has on the poem is that the sense that the water is a living thing, therefore giving it a feeling of life.

The poem ‘Blessing’ is set in a hot country, where the people are poor and there is very little fresh water. When the pipe bursts and water shoots out, the people become excited and rush out to the pipe to collect water in anything they can find. The children meanwhile are delighted at the unexpected shower. The poet has sympathy with these people, understanding their plights and starting simply.

‘There never is enough water’

She describes the effects, as skin ‘cracks like a pod’ and shows how they dream of water and they can almost hear it. ‘Imagine the drip of it’. He understands how important water is to them, because she describes water in religious terms ‘voice of a kindly God’, while the people are like a ‘congregation’, in a way worshiping the water and what it represents in such a land. In, fact the water is seen as a ‘fortune’, ‘silver’ and ‘liquid sun’. On the other hand ‘Presents form my ……….’ is a much calmer poem it has internal rhymes such as ‘saw Lahore’ which seems slow. It also seems to stretch out like girls life story. The poet uses the language of seclusion ‘shaded and screened’ to describe how they are hidden quietly away. He poet actually ends with a vision of her excluded from society, ‘of no fixed nationality’. Her exclusion is symbolize by the fact she sees herself starring through ‘fretworks’ and she focuses on the lowest individuals ‘beggars and sweeper girls’. By using such terms it seems she associates herself with them. The rhythm of ‘Presents form my ……….’ is reflected.

In the poem ‘Presents form my ……….’ the poet Moniza Alvi makes use of symbols of another culture to explore the idea. In ‘Presents form my ……….’ The poet presents the idea of being caught between two cultures. She came to England as a baby and has grown in England’s cultures but looks back to her roots back in Pakistan, reflecting on her gifts that her aunts, still living in Pakistan, sent her as she was growing. All the gifts she gets are symbolic of the Pakistani culture but the poet remembers that

‘I longed

For denim and corduroy’

This symbolizes the western cultures grown up in. Ironically, even her aunt

‘Requested cardigans

from Marks and Spencer’s’

Though out the poem, symbols are used to reflect the poet’s feelings of being caught between two cultures and her feelings, ultimately of being ‘……… of no fixed nationality’.

The girls in the poem ‘Presents form my ……….’ discovers are identity through a series o reflections, images and senses when she considers the brightly colored ‘alien’ clothes that she recalls her aunt’s sending from Pakistan; for example, the poet’s ‘salwar kameez’ is ‘peacock blue’, the ’embossed slippers’ are ‘gold and black and gift of ‘candy stripped glass bangles’ draws ‘blood’ when it snaps on her wrist. ‘Blood’ introduces the idea of the poet’s roots and with it a chain of clothes- introduced memories that lead her to discover the Asian half of her identity.

The poem’s style of narration has a sense of immediacy that is appropriate for the direct experience that is reflected in the poem. The poet’s use of free verse is also effective as the poem’s maze like lines help embody the poet’s meandering sense of self-discovery as she reflects on a series of objects that enables her to ‘discover’ her roots.

The narrator ornate ‘present’ stimulates her imagination; she recalls through the ‘glass circles’ of the clothes ‘mirror works’ how she made the uncomfortable journey to England with her parents as a young child: an event that she would otherwise have been far too young to remember. Therefore both poems gives us a insight of their culture.

I prefer the poem ‘Blessing’ because when I read the poem it makes me feel sympathy for the people of Dharvi but the on the other hand it make me a bit relived that the people have got some water when the pipe bursts. The poet makes us thinks that sometimes things can be better. The way people fight for water shows how desperate they are; and though the children are happy when the water ‘sings’ over them, we finis with ‘small bones’ and know that soon their will be no water again. The poet sees their problem as her problem.

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Problems in 'Presents From My Aunts in Pakistan'. (2019, Dec 07). Retrieved from

Problems in 'Presents From My Aunts in Pakistan'
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