They sent me a salwar kameez external image pakistan-flag.gif
peacock-blue [1],

and another
glistening like an orange split open,
embossed slippers [2],

gold and black
points curling.
Candy-striped glass bangles
snapped, drew blood
.[3]
Like at school, fashions changed
in Pakistan -
the salwar bottoms were broad and stiff ,
then narrow.
My aunts chose an apple-green sari [1],
silver-bordered
for my teens.

I tried each satin-silken top - [4]
was alien in the sitting-room. [5]
I could never be as lovely
as those clothes -
I longed [6]
for denim and corduroy, [4]
My costume clung to me
and I was aflame,
I couldn't rise up out of its fire, [7]

half-English,
unlike Aunt Jamila.

I wanted [6] my parents' camel-skin lamp -
switching it on in my bedroom,
to consider the cruelty
and the transformation [8]

from camel to shade,
marvel at the colours
like stained glass

My mother cherished her jewellery -
Indian gold, dangling, filigree
But it was stolen from our car. [9]

The presents were radiant in my wardrobe. [10]
My aunts request cardigans
from Marks and Spencers.

My salwar kameez
didn't impress the schoolfriend [11]

who sat on my bed, asked to see
my weekend clothes.
But often I admired the mirror-work,
tried to glimpse myself [12]

in the miniature
glass circles, recall the story
how the three of us
sailed to England.
Prickly heat had me screaming on the way.
I ended up in a cot [13]
In my English grandmother's dining-room,
found myself alone,
playing with a tin-boat.

I pictured my birthplace
from fifties' photographs. [14]

When I was older
there was conflict, a fractured land
throbbing through newsprint. [15]
Sometimes I saw Lahore -
my aunts in shaded rooms,
screened from male visitors,
sorting presents,
wrapping them in tissue.

Or there were beggars, sweeper-girls
and I was there -
of no fixed nationality, [16]
staring through fretwork
at the Shalimar Gardens. [17]




[1] The bright colours of the Pakistani clothes contrast with the clothes that she is used to (line 21)
[2] These words stand out from the english words , just as the presents do from the English clothes she usually wears
[3] They broke - like her links from Pakistan her presents make her feel seemingly uncomfortable in the clothes and jewellery from Pakistan.

[4] She's more comfortable with the plainess of English clothes than the bright colours of the salwra kameez.
[5] The presents make her feel out of place in England
[6] Child like desire for something she cannot have
[7] Refers to the legend of the Pheonix rising from the flames - but she cannot re-create herself like this
[8] The poet feels sorry for the camel whose skin was used to make the lamp. This reflects her own negative feelings about change.
[9] The theft of her mothers jeweller in England could be a metaphor for England stealing her Pakistani identity
[10] Humorous, but regretful - she's never worn them
[11] The Schoolfriends reaction to the clothes contrasts with the poet's - so the poet doesn't entirely fit in with England either
[12] She likes the Pakistani clothes, but can't feel attached with them. She's also trying to see her identity.
[13] She must have been very young when she left Pakistan
[14] She cannot remember Pakistan properly, so has to imagine it instead
[15] Her knowledge of Pakistan is only of what she had read and heard
[16] Sums up her feeling of not being totally English or Pakistani
[17] There is a barrier stopping her from being part of Pakistan



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