BAHALA KA

Bahala Ka

by Mikaela Lucido

I am not qualified to give you

a lesson in Tagalog.

 

But let me teach you

my least favourite phrase:

Bahala ka.

 

My parents love the phrase

Bahala ka.

They love to say it, use it

Bahala ka

when I am as stubborn as them.

 

I wish I could use it the way they do.

Without sounding like a foreigner,

each word

sliding

slipping

sloshing around

in my mouth

like a fish far from home.

 

I am a fish

far from home.

 

I wish I could use it the way they do

when the waves in my mind

in me

toss and turn,

when my throat feels

like a thousand coconut husks

are packed in there

like the sardines my lola likes.

 

I wish I could use it the way they do

when men with white right glorified

faces

flesh

flaws

say what they think and

what they think make us feel

stupid and small.

 

I wish I could use it the way they do

when each day is a voyage

and I am the captain and there is a tempest.

I am the captain trained to

fight monsters, find treasure, and float freely.

But nobody trained me how to

fight the monsters in my head

find the treasure in myself

and float freely when all I want is to

throw myself overboard.

 

I am not qualified to give you

a sword

a phrase

a monster-slaying

captain-worthy

saying in Tagalog.

 

But you children lost at sea,

In-between immigrant children

lost at seeing themselves,

you children

lost at seeing their worth,

 

when your typhoon season comes

scream it and mean it.

 

Bahala ka!

which in English is

can mean

might mean

will never quite mean

It’s up to you

Do whatever you want

Have it your way

with a

tiny little

splash

of

Screw you.

 

But who am I to tell you what to do?

Bahala ka.

Mikaela Lucido

Mikaela Lucido was born in Manila, Philippines, and immigrated to Canada at age four. To this day, her crowning achievement is having received a certificate for reading 800 children’s books by the end of senior kindergarten. Currently pursuing a Hon. BA Creative Writing & Publishing degree at Sheridan College, she lives in her hometown, Mississauga.

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You can find her on:

@mikaela.lucido on Instagram, @LucidoMikaela on Twitter, and her personal blog: https://mikaelalucido.com/

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