If you really wanted to hear about it, you will probably want to know where I was born, what the entirety of my not-so-lousy childhood was, and all that crap. But you do not, and that’s good. Besides, I am not going to write my autobiography or whatever, like I am going to die soon. Duh. I am going to tell you about the whole madman process of how I learned English. And hey, looking back, it seems you can compare English to a guy, or heck, maybe a boyfriend. The kind you want to hug and choke at the same time.
Where I want to start telling you all this stuff is when we first met. I was still very young (I was in preschool that time). At that time, it really did not matter to me who he was or what he was; I did not need to know him yet, at least at that point. So, for all intents and purposes at that time, we were just acquaintances. Our teachers wanted me to get to know English better, and use it more often, but it wasn’t a requirement just yet.
And if it is not a requirement, would any kid do it if she did not like it anyway?
Then he began to get my attention when I started elementary, in grades one and two. But he did not get my attention the good way. He was one damn bully. This was the period when the teachers became firmer about me learning and using English (and even my parents were on their side instead of mine, can you believe it!?). And it was irksome—it was as if I was being forced to mingle with and get to know someone that just bullies me. At every encounter we had that time, he really gave me a hard time. He ended up irritating and making me loathe him utterly for those two years. Yet everybody else kept on pushing me to get to know English better.
I wished to hell that they would just back off. What was I, their robot?
The following two years, however, marked a significant turning point in my relationship with English. My teachers prodded me even more and required me to use English at all times (it’s a school policy, although I do not know if other schools also apply it.) My parents intervened at that time. It was as if they were arranging a marriage for me. They encouraged me to read more widely so that I would get to know English better. And I, at that time being the good girl that I was, had no choice but to do so. So for grades three and four, I was confused at how I would see English. Everyone was prodding me to be closer to him, and yet I still saw him as an irksome and bullying git from the past years. I still didn’t like English; if you would have asked me if whatever I read that time was good, all I could say was, “This sentence I’m reading is just terrific.”
I had no idea I was in for one hell of a surprise.
Upon reaching grade five, and until grade six, things became different. I ended up having a word buffet, in which I ate all I said before. At that time, rules about using English got firmer (they even made up this phony award, “Eloquence Award,” to be given to someone who actively keeps using English while at school). Yet we were also getting far already in studying English. It was as if I was getting to know him better. Then, when I was in grade six, I won the phony “Eloquence Award” (yes, I swallowed what I said again). And though that was only once, it changed everything. It was like a blissful first date (am I sentimental crapper or what?). Plus, it made my parents happy (and they rewarded me as well). And from that point on, I was so excited to get to know him better.
Yes, I know I’m getting all sentimental. Kindly bear with a bit more, because it will all be over soon. Swear.
The first two years of high school gave more impetus to the relationship. At that point, I had totally swallowed all I had previously said and felt. Who would have thought that the bullying git would end up becoming such a great and charming guy? So the first two years was the courtship stage. Sure, we had our share of qualms and arguments left and right, and at times I was so pissed that I wanted to bust him. But it was far too late. Since first year high school, he already held me captive. I began to love him. And when third year high school began, well, that was it. If English was a guy, the third year high school was the time it was officially, well, “us.” Eeeuw, you say, but heck, English had won me over already at that point. And at fourth year high school, the term paper writing became our engagement (yes, the cringe factor is ratcheting up; deal with it). It was by far the greatest challenge English had ever given me, and I succeeded in overcoming it.
And that is the end of the sentimental crap. Sort of.
In a nutshell, it is your cliché-filled love story. From anonymity to being slight enemies, to love-hate confusion, to the first date then courtship, to an official relationship, and to an engagement. I still have my complaints about him (stubborn as ever, and sometimes incomprehensible), yet it is all good. I still have the feeling that my parents arranged things for us, too. They still keep prodding me to polish and make firmer my commitment to him. I still prefer to speak in Filipino though (who does not prefer to use their own language, after all?). But I do love English.
And so the love story ends at that note, for the moment. Much is still left to be written, though. You will have to wait another fourteen years or so before the next chapter comes out.
P.S. Curiously, 14 is also Valentine’s Day (February 14). Predestined, maybe?
Guia Limbaga is a BA English freshman at UPMin.