by Sarah Olmedo
Hija never just means daughter, sometimes it means beloved but hija, ven aqui! means trouble, means hija as a warning. Sometimes there’s mija, like mi hija, shortened for laziness or maybe endearment. Mija is a warm hug, a pull to attention at the dinner table, but mija can also mean nana has cancer. So, in a way, mija is its own warning. Sometimes, ven aqui and cuidense and quieres mas, hija? are so stitched to your veins that you know their meanings before you’re told, that ven has always been spelled ben, that command forms and conjugations and preterite tenses are nonsense because it just sounds right. Ir going vamos going fuiste just makes sense, and people were impressed that you understood your Spanish teacher as she rambled off to you in Spanish. What they don’t realize and don’t understand is that this is how you hear, how you see, how you engage at Thanksgiving and Christmas and Dia de Los Reyes and your average Tuesday. And what they miss as they study it, is that sometimes things aren’t literal and nana,tienes pelo! more means i’m happy you’re alive.