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‘Search for my tongue’ by Sojata Bhatt and ‘Presents from my Aunts in Pakistan’ by Moniza Alvi Essay Sample

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‘Search for my tongue’ by Sojata Bhatt and ‘Presents from my Aunts in Pakistan’ by Moniza Alvi Essay Sample

The language in ‘Search for my tongue’ by Sujata Bhatt is very negative in the first section of the poem. She uses a metaphor for her first language as a “tongue” which “would rot, rot and die in your mouth until you had to spit it out.” The negative language of her tongue rotting is very emotional for the reader as they would not like their tongue to “rot and die” either. On the other hand, in the second section, after the Gujarati, she uses more positive language and personifies her first language to “grows strong veins” as well as “grows longer” and “grows moist”. Bhatt shows it like a new birth of her “mother tongue” as “the bud opens in my mouth” and “blossoms out of my mouth”. All these language is more positive and describes what happens to her tongue. Conversely, the language used in ‘Presents from my Aunts in Pakistan’ is more colourful to show how much Moniza Alvi admires the clothes in Pakistan. She describes her “salwar kameez” with a simile of “glistening like an orange split open” which shows that she admires the clothing; however the “candy-striped glass bangles snapped, drew blood” which shows that even though she admires the clothing, they don’t fit. It could also show that she does not fit into her Pakistani culture because the native clothes break and injure her.

In ‘Search for my Tongue’, Bhatt shows the positive image of a “mother tongue”. People refer to mothers as protecting, warm and caring so when she “had to spit it out” for the “foreign tongue”, she felt that she had lost part of her which kept her feeling safe. The use of “foreign” is more pejorative and shows how she feels isolated and lost without her “mother tongue”. Likewise, Alvi uses the pejorative term of “was alien in the sitting room” to show how she felt like she didn’t fit into the western culture by wearing Pakistani clothing. She also refers to the clothes as “my costume clung to me, I was aflame” which shows that she is dressed in something that does not show who she really is and is embarrassed because of this.

The tone portrays in ‘Search for my Tongue’ is at first, the sense of loss because Bhatt feared that she had lost her “mother tongue”. She makes an emphasis on “you had to spit it out” which shows that she had no choice because she had moved somewhere other than her home country. This also shows that she is very upset about it because if she had a choice, she would not have spat it out. However she become more positibe by showing that both of her tongues are able to cooperate and that her mother tongue will always be with her because it “pushes the other tongue aside” and therefore unable to lose her culture. On the other hand, Moniza Alvi remains confused throughout the poem by “playing with a tin boat” which represents her culture drifting between nationalities. It also represents her being born in Pakistan but belonging in England so therefore does not fit into any culture. In addition, she talks about being of “no fixed nationality staring through the fretwork” which shows that she does not know who she is and is an outsider looking into a place of people with fixed nationality.

Both poems use description to different effect: ‘Search for my Tongue’ shows the death and rebirth of a person’s culture whilst ‘Presents from my Aunts in Pakistan’ shows the cultural confusion that will remain in a person forever.

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