between worlds

posted by flipette

We are the 1.5 generation.
Too old to be born on Canadian soil
Too young to remember the politics of our homeland.
Stuck between cultures, I try to navigate
my way
through this mosaic
but my identity compass seems to be broken.

Finding that being a hyphenated Canadian
doesn’t mean I get the best of both worlds
Only the doubled struggle to belong.
To long for a place where I am an individual
For a place where I don’t carry the burden of knowledge that we
were duped to come here.

They told us it wouldn’t be that hard.
Had my family believing that a university education
and years of experience
Meant something to this country.

Instead, they had my father laying brick
Draining his brain of skills he possessed as an electrical engineer.
Had my mother re-taking tests to show she was worthy of her title
Disregarding the hundreds of students that have passed through her door
As a university professor.

Touching down at Pearson airport
with a small statue of Santo Niño in my backpack
I believed in a better life.
Snow, new friends and relatives.

I didn’t realize that dark skin meant difference.
That a flat nose was abnormal.
That a slight slant of the eyes categorized those who were ‘born’ smart
And those who worked hard.

I wander aimlessly without a destination.
Destined to be lost in all this multicultural talk.
Celebrating the diversity of a place
that uses our mothers as picturesque caregivers
Raising the children of elites in this nation.
Motherless children back home
Resenting the loneliness that this capitalist cycle provides.

Pulled in all directions I ask myself,
“Where does my allegience lie?”
In the ashes of Mt. Pinatubo
or on the shores of Lake Ontario.

How can I be happy with surroundings that had me denying my heritage?
The shame that I felt
For most of my life
At being Filipina
A wretched sister of the 1.5 generation family
If we don’t know who were are
How do we know where we’re going?

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