He never called me pretty,
Never did he say I’m his princess,
Rarely did I please him with my clothes,
Hardly did he like my hair long.

He let me dig pits in the backyard,
Fetch containers of water from afar,
He’d scold me when I neglect my siblings,
He’d hate me when of them, I’m unconcerned.

At times, he’d rub my head when I’ve done right,
Yet spare no rods and slap my palms when I err,
He’d occasionally clap his hands for me from afar,
And excessively talk about me when he’s drunk.

I was glad to escape dish-washing for a chess game,
When he said ‘yes’ despite mom’s and sisters’ protests,
He’d tolerate procrastinating so long as I study,
He’d allow me to sit all day if I was reading.

A-B-C-D- appeared pure letter names to me,
He mocked me for not sounding them together,
Of his teasing, I then strived to know..
Joining b’a’k’a should mean cow, and b’a’t’a, ‘child’.

I sang my first meaningful song through my mentor,
With the first ever man I was fondly attached,
He’d taught me a lovely, simple song,
I’ve never forgotten from six ’til I’ve grown:

Ang mag-aral ay kailangan lang,
dunong ay gamot sa kamangmangan.
Karunungan ay gintong tunay,
Bagay na dapat pagsikapan.”
Salamat, ‘tay.

By Issa

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