Heartbreakingly blunt perzine ‘i don’t know how to translate this’

i don’t know how to translate this
Perzine, Tender Tita, 12 pgs, tendertita.bigcartel.com

Tender Tita’s zine i don’t know how to translate this explores the feeling of isolation a child feels when language isn’t an available tool to express their needs, wants, or hopes to their parents. This zine collects and collages original poems, family photos, magazine clippings, and excerpts from a Tagalog-to-English dictionary.

Addressed to the author’s Filipino-Canadian parents, these poems express unspoken feelings of disappointment. In “parenthood pt.2,” the poem opens with “i’m tired of this notion that i owe you everything / because you gave up your life for me. you don’t own me.” The author challenges expectations for children to be filial to their parents irrespective of scenarios or circumstances that lead the child to feel otherwise. Tita addresses the discord between what her mom expects and how they truly feel in the poem “Six”: “do you miss me? / you ask after every call. / i lie and tell you, yes / because a no would crush you.” As they point out, “i get it, our culture is rooted in / community and collective care. / but growing up you both have been / so emotionally and physically absent / that i stopped learning / how to need you.”

Tita explores the intersection between cultural expectations for family relationships and seeking out sources of care, compassion, and emotional support. As Tita points out in “chosen,” “my friends are my family too.” This zine reflects some of the challenges immigrant families encounter because of a limited ability to communicate with
one another. It is heartbreakingly blunt, but also creates the space for words and feelings to exist where they couldn’t before.