Getting that red inked number on my card was a talking point at home. My father, who was trained as an accountant, did not waste time to needle me no end. He even enumerated my deficiencies beginning with a-1 to a-10. (Get it! A-counting) 😀
To raise a notch for my English proficiency, I turned on to my most dependable ally: Webster. I had the thickest dictionary during that time, even dwarfing my mother’s old Bible. The anagram games in the sixth grade introduced me to the habit that continuing it became a routine.
I chose ten words daily, using them in simple sentences while reciting them loudly in front of the mirror. Of course, my difficulty differentiating between Ps and Fs in pronunciation gave me countless times of laughing at myself.
One time, I had this idea of getting back at my father for his earlier tirades. More confident after a few weeks, I knew I could hold my ground against an English speaker.
After coming home from the market where we had a store, Father asked me about what happened at home. His grumpy voice uttered the Tagalog language without an accent. (He was a Waray but the Visayan inflection was long gone.)
Naturally, I replied but in English.
I could not say if I had the fluency back then though I recalled my mother laughing out loud.
Instead of being angry, Father came up with an equal barrage of difficult words he learned when was still working in an American company based in Manila. (He bragged once that his American boss was so impressed with him.)
The word battle raged on. No one would claim defeat.
Thankfully, my sister entered the picture. She knew what to do.
“Stop it!” she yelled, holding her forehead. “You’re giving me a headache.”
Father, Mother and I were all stunned. She spoke English with a British accent. 😀