I love my brother, Aaron’s, Chinese name. It means something like “looking upwards,” implying humility and also, in my opinion, great dreams. My name is less fitting. Mine means something like “beauty and grace.” Our parents struck much closer to the mark when they named Aaron.
“My Chinese is pretty terrible,” Aaron said one night over dinner. He turned to his then-girlfriend, now-wife. “It’s so bad I think I’d name my first kid 叉燒 (cha siu: Chinese barbecue pork).”
She laughed. I gasped. “Yes,” I nearly shouted in excitement. “Do it. No matter what you name that kid now, I’m gonna call it 包包 (bao bao: bun). And then I’m gonna chase that little munchkin around the house and pretend to eat its cheeks.”
“Yeah, you would,” Ally said, digging at her pasta.
“唔好啊 (m4hou2aa3: it’s not good/don’t do it),” said my father, thoroughly unamused by the suggestion. Unsure of how serious Aaron was being, he looked a little scandalised.
“Cutest name ever,” I said, undeterred.
Dad looked at us, half bewildered and half confused. Where did you two come from?! I could almost hear him thinking.