Presents from My Aunts in Pakistan by Moniza Alvi.
Moniza Alvi was born in Pakistan, but moved to England when she was five. One of her parents is Pakistani and the other is English. The poem is mainly about the difficulty she finds in fitting in with, or feeling a part of, either of the cultures, the Pakistani or the English. IN this respect, the poem is like: Search for My Tongue; from Unrelated Incidents; Half-Caste; and Ogun. All of them are concerned with problems associated with ideas of race and identity. Here, it is through the clothes worn in the different cultures that the poet expresses her discomfort with both traditions. The clothes from Pakistan have exotic names and bright colours, which are attractive, but the fact that the glass bangles can break and cut the wearer reminds us that they can do damage as well as good. There seem to be two reasons why the poet is unhappy with the Pakistani clothes: they do not belong to "the sitting room" of an English house; they make her feel unworthy of them because, "I could never be as lovely as those clothes." The person is attracted to the European clothes, "denim and corduroy," worn by her schoolfriends. It is as if she is being burned and consumed by the Pakistani clothes, because she is "half-English, unlike Aunt Jamila.".
She thinks about the camel-skin lampshade," which also represents Pakistani culture, again both attractive _ "marvel at the colours" - and unattractive - "the cruelty/ and the transformation from camel to shade." .
The persona recalls the theft of her mother's jewellery, which she (her mother) had previously cherished. Is there a sense in which her Pakistani culture has been stolen by exposure to a British one? In the same stanza, she remarks that, although the aunts sent bright clothes from Pakistan, they wanted cardigans from Marks and Spencers. This is, of course, ironic, that they should want items from the alien culture.