When my group was discussing the poem “Chi” last class, I had mentioned how the word chi is Bangla/Bengali meant disgusting or an expression of showing how a person has brought on shame. I thought it was really interesting to include the phrase Chi, even though the author probably did not know its meaning in Bangla, just in general how I connected with it.
My group also talked about how the vocabulary portion of the poem gave definitions of the different “chi”s and it made me think about how it exemplifies the ways in which a woman should act. For instance chi. means thank you but chi? means may I please.
When I read the phrase section of the poem, my first thoughts were about exotism. The lines “teach me to play dumb play dead to say no name but my own,” and “as if I could rot as if they didn’t make us to last & last,” made me think about Asian women are exotized. That Asian women are precious little things that are to be treasured and saved. Especially the last line about not making them to last, it reminded me of the theme of damsel in distress. It is as if Asian women need help all the time and need to be saved–which also points back at who Chi is, a Chinese manga character that is salvaged by the protagonist.
What about you all? What did you guys think while reading this poem?