by Orson Scott Card
Han Tzu was the bright and shining hope of his family. He wore a monitor
embedded in the back of his skull, near the top of his spine. Once, when he was
very little, his father held him between mirrors in the bathroom. He saw that a
little red light glowed there. He asked his father why he had a light on him when
he had never seen another child with a light.
"Because you're important," said Father. "You will bring our family back to the
position that was taken from us many years ago by the Communists."
Tzu was not sure how a little red light on his neck would raise his family up. Nor
did he know what a Communist was. But he remembered the words and when he
learned to read, he tried to find stories about Communists or about the family Han
or about children with little red lights. There were none to be found.
His father played with him several times a day. He grew up with his father's
loving hands caressing him, cuffing him playfully; he grew up with his father's
smile. His father praised him whenever he learned something; it became Tzu's
endeavor every day to learn something so he could tell Father.
"You spell my name Tzu," said Tzu, "even though it's pronounced just like the
word 'zi.' T-Z-U is the old way of spelling, called ... 'Wade-Giles.' The new way
"Very good, my Tzu, my Little Master," said Father.
"There's another way of writing even older than that, where each word has its own
letter. It was very hard to learn and even harder to put on computer so the
government changed all the books to pinyin."
"You are a brilliant little boy," said Father.
"So now people give their children names spelled the old Wade-Giles way because
they don't want to let go of the lost glories of ancient China."
Father stopped smiling. "Who told you that?"