• Marieska Luzada

four simple words

it’s a repetitive cycle,

it’s always been.

by Christine Park

“if you knew how to speak bisaya,

you’d understand what i’m saying.”

like a hammer to the head,

the hardest slap across the face,

the feeling of having your head submerged into water,

and never coming back up to be revived.

i was only taught english,

the language of my “future.”

moving to america was already a checkmark

in the eyes of our family.

we would hop off the plane

on a small island in the caribbean,

and from then on, my native tongue

had been taken like the mermaid’s voice,

my native language unheard by anyone i met,

though my face was marked as “apart from the majority.”

i guard my heritage at all costs,

with my arms enveloping it like a soft quilt.

i’d taste the adobo and pancit before i was even fed,

i’d feel the crunch of the lechon before i took a bite,

i’d hear the screeching of the karaoke sessions before i went downstairs.

endless jokes, childhood stories, cultural experiences

that i share with my curious peers.

we laugh, we learn, we discover every day.

“i’m not from here” has changed its connotation since childhood.

“i’m one hundred percent filipino” is a stamp of pride.

but four simple words

would allow my treasure to be taken from my arms.

the disapprovement in their eyes,

the stare they give me, the only one in the room with dyed ends,

the cackles they deliver because of one little mistake,

the way they treat me differently,

because of four simple words.

“i don’t speak bisaya,”

four simple words

that served as a concealment

of my one and only treasure.

i want to block them out,

but i have no control, and never will.

read more about Marieska here

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