An anecdote on Chinese names

It was only at the age of four that I received my Chinese name. My father had been separated from his parents in the aftermath of the Vietnam War and by the threat of being enlisted in the Vietnamese Army. A fortunate timing since Vietnam and Cambodia would soon go to war. This is not to mention the persecution of the ethnic Chinese for their complicity with the French colonial authorities. So off to France my parents went. My grandparents, as well as the rest of my extended family, would have to wait a few more years before they could charter a boat that would take them to a refugee camp in the Philippines, where they were given the choice to relocate to Houston, Texas; France; Toronto, Ontario; or Hong Kong. Almost half a decade unfolded before my father and his parents would have any contact, and a few years more before enough money could be saved to buy plane tickets for four (my sister was also born in the mean time). I am not sure when my grandmother gave me my Chinese name. What I know is that it took her some time to go through whatever familial records she managed to keep to make sure that I would not receive the same name as one of my ancestors.


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