"Lim Hui Jia."
A scruffy boy by the window rolled his eyes.
"Lim Hui Jia." the teacher repeated louder.
"Here." He raised his hand half-heartedly and quickly turned his gaze back outside.
Hui Jia, who had yet to settle on an English name, had despised his name for all thirteen years of his existence. Simply because it sounded exactly like 'go home' in Mandarin. And anyone with half a brain knows that in school, having a name that sounds remotely like any actual words is asking for trouble.
True enough, trouble dogged him. Most of the boys teased him to no end, incorporating his name into every sentence they conversed in.
"Hey, what time you hui jia today?"
"Haiya, you don't talk so much...you hui jia lah!"
"Where's your homework? Hui jia already?"
Even the teachers chipped in, often complete with a hateful face of look-at-me-i'm-so-witty!.
He figured that it would stop after a while. But no luck, not even after years of schooling. Which to his teenage self was an eternity. And most likely a lifelong condemnation.
"Ah Jia! Get off your computer! Come eat dinner now."
Hui Jia slipped on his earphones, pretending not to hear.
Two minutes passed before his mother stormed into the room. She was a rather large lady, sometimes slow in movement but always quick and sharp with her tongue.
"HEY! I said turn off your computer!"
He glared at her before saving his game to shut down the computer.
"Eat your beansprouts," she scooped an oversized pile into his bowl.
"They're good for you."
He picked them up with his chopsticks, strand by strand, studying them carefully.
"Ma, why is my name Hui Jia?"
"How many times do you want to ask me? Did someone in school tease you again?"
He put down his chopsticks crossly. "What do you think?"
"Watch your manners. What's wrong with your name? Isn't it nice?"
"No way! You try going to school every day and having your friends go 'Oooh...let's hui jia! Heyyy...why don't you hui jia!' Hui jia this, hui jia that! So funny! I swear when I'm older, I''m going to change my name!"
She pursed her lips, allowing for an uncomfortable pause. "How about your mother? Do you want to change your mother as well?"
"When did I ever say that?"
"Your name reminds you of who you are and where you came from. If you change it, you're saying that you don't care about all that."
There was no winning. He mouthed whatever, stuffing the horrid beansprouts in.
To be continued.