My Spanish

Jocari Peralta - Senegal


September 23, 2017

From a young age I was taught to read and write in English, but I was taught to love in SPANISH

 

My mother who only spoke SPANISH taught my sister Maria and me things like never say I hate you because hate is a strong word and do not curse in SPANISH as I can understand you…

From that day on we vowed to say we disliked something strongly when really we hated it, and to not curse- in SPANISH

 

In the classroom I was told to not speak SPANISH as it was impolite because not everyone could understand me, but even in English, they did not understand me…

 

Years later my mother would reveal to me that if she would have had it her way I would have never even learned SPANISH

 

You see my SPANISH was never a choice, but rather a way for me to communicate with my heart and soul

It is the language conquistadores shoved down my ancestors throats, and it is the only language my parents have ever known

 

My SPANISH is imperfect, and broken like my family…

My SPANISH is a collection of double LLs, rolling Rs, and Js that sound like Hs

My SPANISH is false cognates, accent marks that I’ll never figure out where to put, and knowing the word in English but not in SPANISH!

 

My SPANISH is not a rebellion against the red, white and blue on BOTH of my flags

My SPANISH is not something to be afraid of or even question me about…

It is not the enemy, but rather an ally…

 

My SPANISH is colorful

It’s full of interesting idioms, fabulous foods and spicy song lyrics

My SPANISH is “Ayayai” and “Arribaaaaa!”

 

But… My SPANISH… My SPANISH is also “Te odio” y “Lárgate!”

It is pain and oppression

My SPANISH is me feeling like I’ll never fit in- like I’ll never be good enough

 

From a young age I was taught to read and write in English, but I was taught to LOVE in SPANISH…

 

-Growing up Bilingual

 

I grew up Bilingual, but that does not mean that languages come naturally to me…

Being HERE- in Senegal- I finally understand what it felt like for my mother to migrate to another country and try to make it feel like HOME- a place where Spanish was like rat poison- somewhere far far away from her heart…

 

I grew up Bilingual, but I’ve never had to train my tongue to make love to sounds that were foreign to it…

But being HERE- in Khombole- I finally understand what it’s like to cheat on your mother tongue- to kiss and tell someone about your life back at home in CODE- a code that is in Wolof…

 

Yes it is TRUE that,

I grew up Bilingual, but that does not mean that this experience is any less difficult for me than it is for someone who did not…

Jocari Peralta