Digital Editor Halima Ahad reviews Nabeela Saghir’s debut poetry pamphlet ‘Let me make you something to eat’ finding it to be a homely representation of motherhood

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Images by Halima Ahad

Nabeela Saghir is a Midlands based poet, now residing in Northwest London. Her debut pamphlet Let me make you something to eat encompasses the true feeling of poetry, in my opinion, making readers feel the beauty and vulnerability in going back to your home roots. Testimonials for Let me make you something to eat include praise for how well Saghir’s poetry paints stunning, mouth watering imagery in the reader’s head as well as relating heavily back to the theme of motherhood.

Paints stunning, mouth watering imagery

Jasmine Gardosi, famous Brummie poet, encompasses Let me make you something to eat perfectly in one sentence. ‘In this intricate collection, English and Urdu flirt together around the universal love language of food’, which I think says it all. The bilingual switches between each language flow effortlessly from Saghir and the reader truly is transported back to Pakistan through her timeless use of words and form. 

The first poem ‘Dupatta’ made me ponder upon the relationship between mother and child, especially in a Pakistani household. Dupatta, by definition, is a long piece of material worn around the head or neck by South Asian women. ‘It’s a fluttering around your face, a shelter from dirt and heat and eyes / like a moth clutching light it wraps its weight around you’ which really illustrates the love, tenderness and care Pakistani mothers show to their children. 

Pakistani mothers have truly sacrificed their lives for their families and ‘Dupatta’ encompasses how their children will always have a part of their mothers with them through the universal cloth of the Dupatta. The last line of the poem relates back to the naming of the poetry pamphlet. ‘It’s what cradles us, carries me down to the kitchen in its arms and whispers, / let me make you something to eat.’ highlights the true kind-heartedness of mothers. After a long day of work or school, when we come back home, their first question is always ‘have you had something to eat?’ They will always look out for our safety and wellbeing, and Let me make you something to eat solidifies this so naturally. 

Every child will always have a part of their mother with them

Another poem in Let me make you something to eat which really stuck with me was ‘All I know now’, encompassing how every child will always have a part of their mother with them, as they went through the hardships of pregnancy and childbirth. ‘Warmth is weight felt most in the belly. / It bursts and says here, I kept this heat for you.’exemplifies how close the mother and child bond truly is, the mother sacrifices part of her life to keep her child safe and sound. The delicacy of these lines really stood out to me, as well as how they flow so naturally. ‘you’ve let go of my hand / and my heart still beats, warm.’ shows how motherly sacrifices carry on throughout every child’s life, they will always feel the warmth and support of their mother as they go on to live their free and independent lives.

‘Little parcels’ in Let me make you something to eat illustrates the beauty of coming together for food during the auspicious month of Ramadan. ‘My mother peels the dough off her fingers / washed in time for Zuhr, a midday kneeling before / it starts again set to medium heat’ highlights the intricate process of making the timeless well-known Pakistani snack of samosas. The addition of the prayer time Zuhr felt so personal and beautiful to me, as Saghir shows the intimate practice of prayer and being at one with God. ‘Sizzling slick with light grease spotted with black pepper / and then we wait, and wait, for the first bite of samosa’ which paints the picture of coming together as a family during each night of Ramadan. Although we wait for the food together, the bonding time is like no other and Saghir shows this undemandingly.

…you are never truly far from home

The poems follow very different approaches throughout Saghir’s Let me make you something to eat but ultimately they follow one concept in the end; you are never truly far from home. As someone who has never been to Pakistan herself, reading Saghir’s pamphlet immersed me in the beauty of the hustle and bustle of Pakistan and her imagery throughout was truly beautiful. I hope to read more of Saghir’s work in the future and I cannot wait for what is to come for her.

Let me make you something to eat by Nabeela Saghir was published by Fawn Press. You can discover more here.

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