Although I was born in Tokyo and promptly given a Japanese name by my Japanese mother, my sister made her way into the world via Richmond Texas. I've written before (see earlier blog titled What's In A Name?) that my mother argued with her Japanese doctors about naming me Yayoi--which, in accordance to the month I was born, was way too late in the season for me to be called thusly. But do you think my mom would allow herself to be bullied by a couple of authority figures? Not that OG rebel. She liked the name, and she didn't care if they ridiculed her or snickered in her face, she was naming me Yayoi and that's all she wrote.
But by the time my sister was born, we had left Japan. Having arrived only recently to the U.S., my mother was shy and unfamiliar with things like family hierarchy. Therefore, she quietly acquiesced to her new mother-in-law, the so-called black matriarch.
Shortly after giving birth, my mother was resting in her hospital bed when she was presented with the child she had so laboriously brought to the planet. Looking down at my baby sister, my mother was shocked to see that a name tag around her daughter's wrist showed that she had already been named without the consultation of her own birth mother!
To add insult, my mom couldn't even pronounce her new daughter's name. Try this on for size: Beverly Rhea Winfrey.
That's right. Now, if you know anything about the Japanese language, you're aware that there are no phonetics for the letter "v", and that there are no words that end with consonants--unless it's an "n". Their letter "f" is pronounced like our "wh", and their letter "r" is a combination roll that sounds like our "d". Our "l" is pronounced like an "r", and so forth. What a nightmare for my poor mom.
She probably said something like this: Beh-boo-rdee Rdee-ah Win-who-rdee-oo.
To this day, she calls my sister Beh-boo, or sometimes, just Beh. To make matters even more complicated, about 15 years ago my sister changed her name to just the initials b.r. (lower case, no space, no periods--I added them).
That's my mom, above, posing with my grandmother who was visiting us in Washington State in the 1960's.
Your Hip Hapa,
Hey, fellow hip hapas, don't forget that new Hapa*Teez t-shirt designs will be uploaded soon.
Check out: http://www.cafepress.com/hapateez
And, stay tuned for the fabulous Mia Gonzalez' update of the Watermelon Sushi website.