We were three recent immigrants from Latin America, gathered during third-grade recess at a far corner of the school yard. Contented in Spanish conversation, we were startled when the adjacent heavy wooden doors were swung open. Out from the building’s corridor bolted the Principal. Dressed in a nun’s black habit that covered her from head to toe, only the crimson of her Irish white cheeks alerted us to the fury with which she approached.
Displaced from our linguistic refuge and commanded to stand on the steps to the schoolyard, we were as if in exhibit to our classmates still at play. Even more to spotlight our transgressions, the sun beaded our foreheads with sweat while we silently contemplated the nun’s dictum,
“Speak only in English.”
I must tell you I write only in English as my adopted tongue. But like a cord that binds me to the culture in which I was raised, my stories are seasoned with vivid adjectives that become woven into a rhythm that heightens the storytelling.