The Ways in Which Culture and Identity are Presented in Search for My Tongue and Presents From my Aunts in Pakistan
In this essay I aim to discuss the ways in which culture and identity
are presented in 'search for my tongue' and 'presents from my aunts in
The first poem, 'search for my tongue' is written by a woman called
Sujata Bhatt who was born in nineteen fifty six, in Ahmedabad, India.
She emigrated to the United States of America in nineteen sixty eight.
She is a very successful poet and translator of Gujarati and English
and if that was not enough she is now living in Germany.
Search for my tongue is a very unique poem as it suddenly changes from
English to Gujarati half way through. The poem is about language and
the effect of language when living in a different place with people
speaking different languages. The word 'tongue' means two things. The
first is the language one speaks and the other is the more obvious
tongue in your mouth. Although this poem may have autobiographical
content, its concerns have a much wider relevance.
The first paragraph of 'Search for my Tongue' is written in the second
person, which suggests a level of detachment.
"You ask me what I mean by saying I have lost my tongue"
is the first sentence of 'Search For My Tongue'. It is written as a
reply to a question and the word tongue is used as a conventional
metaphor for language. Next she says
"I ask you, what would you do if you had two tongues in your mouth"
the word 'tongues' re-awakens the metaphor by making us aware of its
physical sense. Sujata Bhatt then repeats the words 'tongue' and
'could' several times in the next section, this shows uncertainty.
Among this she includes some ideas of the tongue turning more organic,
with the idea,
"your mother tongue would rot, rot and die in your mouth".
The poem now changes into the first person. It changes from you to I,
and the verbs move into the present tense, which makes the poem more
personal and immediate,
"I thought I spit it out but overnight while I dream,"
she is comparing the tongue to a living thing, ironically it dies at
this point, but comes alive later in the poem.
This is where the poem becomes very unique, as it changes from the
English language to Gujarati. This shows that the dream is unexpected
and uncontrollable. It also gives us, the reader, a chance to see what
she really means as it alienates us from this foreign text, and we are
put in her shoes. We find that the Gujarati text is actually the
translation of the English text below it.
Once the poem changes back to English the poet uses more positive
statements using present tense verbs and the repeated use of the word
"It grows back, a stump of a shoot"
This first line after the translation to Gujarati shows us that...