Sister – “apple”
I was seven years old when my sister started learning English at church, and the language utterly fascinated me. As always, she flaunted me the words and phrases she learned at the class as soon as she came home. I understood some English words, such as “apple” because some beverage makers called the fruit juice “apple juice” instead of “ringo juice,” but it was pronounced “appuru.” How my sister said it was enthralling. “A” sounded like somewhere between Japanese “a” and “e,” and “l” was barely audible.
I begged my mother to let me learn English with my sister, but she told me I had to wait till eleven because she could only afford for one of us at a time. So I started teaching it to myself. My uncle from the rice shop gave me an old copy of the English phrasebook. I started reciting “This is a book,” “Is this a book?” At school, I wanted to show off my new knowledge, so I caught the shyest boy in class and asked, “Is this your book?” while holding one of my books. He’d simper and tilt his head, gesturing, “I have no idea what you are saying but leave me alone.”