Cousin Long – called “Bo” for “cow” –
Cause sister Hang was
“Pig” for her year
Copyright by Minh Tan on listed dated of completion.
Notes to this poem…
The name Long mentioned is read pretty much as in English. “Bo”, meanwhile, is read baw.
Cousin Long is rarely called that, or Hai as is the ordinal name for the oldest child in Vietnamese culture, even as a nickname. Instead, he is called Bo for the Vietnamese year under which he had been born. His older sister, my cousin Hang, had been called heo, read hel without the l pronounced, as a kid by Aunt Phi, for the year under which Hang was born. Pigs are rather flattering in Vietnamese culture, unlike Western culture. They’re considered resourceful, considerate, and their fat is a symbol of wealth, and thus food security, not excess and unpleasant physicality. Hang is pretty much all that, and of the same year as me but one cycle later. Long is a lot like a cow, gentle and calm. He has no traits of the bull, as some might attribute the year of the “cow” to be.
Aunt Phi, apparently, nicknamed all her sisters’ kids as they were born and many of the names have stuck to this day. Nice little family tradition.