The woman I addressed as Nainai 奶奶 in this blog (and in my little world) was my maternal grandfather’s last concubine Qian Ruohua 钱若华. My maternal grandfather should have been called Gonggong 公公 or Waigong 外公 but instead Yeye 爷爷.
The reasons were:
My biologic maternal grandma Popo 婆婆 was living with her son (my Jiujiu 舅舅) since the fateful day when she decided to move out of the family compound in 1942. To differentiate the two women – one was married to him and one was living with him – my Mom chose Popo be my Popo and the concubine be my Nainai, and altered Gonggong to be my Yeye thus making them as a pair. Mom could have had me calling him as Gonggong, and Popo as Da Popo, and Qian Ruohua the concubine as Xiao Popo.
Another reason for this was the fact that I didn’t have Yeye and Nainai because my paternal grandfather has long passed away and my paternal grandmother was exiled to Taipei in 1948. In the 1960s, it was as close as deceased due to the political tension between the Taiwan Strait. It’s bit confusing, I know. But that’s the way I grew up – don’t want to have it any other way.
Thirdly, my Jiujiu was still single, I was their first grandchild. So calling him Yeye was pretty neat.
My three cousins – Jiujiu’s 3 kids called my Popo as Nainai, my Yeye as Yeye and Qian Ruohua as YeyeNainai. Many extended family members from Yeye’s side, called Qian Ruohua as 二舅 Second Uncle to distinguish from Popo as 舅母 Jiumu.
“Why not 二舅母?” I asked.
“Because 二舅 was easier on the lip than 二舅母 and Yeye was the only brother.” was my 舅舅’s response.
I know it’s very confusing. But I just wanted to preserve what it was and didn’t want to change a thing.