Presents from my aunts in Pakistan – Moniza Alvi
They sent me a salwar kameez peacock-blue, and another glistening like an...
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Presents from my aunts in pakistan moniza alvi

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Published on: Mar 4, 2016
Published in: Education      
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Transcripts - Presents from my aunts in pakistan moniza alvi

  • 1. Presents from my aunts in Pakistan – Moniza Alvi They sent me a salwar kameez peacock-blue, and another glistening like an orange split open, embossed slippers, gold and black points curling. Candy-striped glass bangles snapped, drew blood. Like at school, fashions changed in Pakistan - the salwar bottoms were broad and stiff, then narrow. My aunts chose an apple -green sari, silver-bordered for my teens. I tried each satin-silken top - was alien in the sitting-room. I could never be as lovely as thoseclothes - I longed for denim and corduroy. My costume clung to me and I was aflame, I couldn't rise up out of its fire, half-English, unlike Aunt Jamila. I wanted my parents' camel -skin lamp - switching it on in my bedroom, to consider the cruelty and the transformation 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 . The presents were radiant in my wardrobe . My aunts requested cardigans from Marks and Spencers. My salwar kameez didn't impress the schoolfriend who sat on my bed , asked to see my weekend clothes. But often I admired the mirror-work, tried to glimpse Myself 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 In my English grandmother's dining-room, found myself alone, playing with a tin-boat. I pictured my birthplace from fifties Photographs. When I was older there was conflict, a fractured land throbbing through newsprint. 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, staring through Fretworkat the ShalimarGardens