“So happy! We can have two lunches and two dinners together!! We must eat breakfast on Monday morning before you leave.” Dad.

Dad sounded thrilled as he measured my impending weekend visit with meals. His favorite hobby is eating.

I flew into Burbank airport last weekend. As promised, I was immediately whisked away, and driven to a restaurant in Monterey Park. Monterey Park better resembles a small city in China rather than an American city nested in the greater Los Angeles area.

Dad recruited family to join our lunch. At the table, there sat my 98 year-old grandmother, my parents, my uncle, two aunts, and Will.

Whenever I see my youngest aunt, I see my cousin Will. Whenever I sit down for a meal with Will, there will be roast duck or roast chicken, or both.

Cousin Will is in his early thirties, with a slightly stocky medium stature. He is blessed with a pair of enviable deep dimples, which makes his smiles quite handsome. Will smiles often.

If you sit down to chat with Will, you will first take note of Will’s strange accent, then rightly diagnose Will’s limited mental capacity.

Will was just two years old when he immigrated to America with his parents, along with my family.

Will’s father was a tyrant, and uncommonly foolish. He feared that his 2-year-old son wouldn’t master English with all of us Chinese speakers living under one roof. He forbid my aunt speaking to Will in Chinese, and only spoke to the young boy using English, HIS English. Will’s father spoke horrific English.

Poor Will never recovered from his father’s English. He speaks with a peculiar accent mixed in with odd speech patterns.

Will’s Chinese is even worse. He seems to understand the language, but speaks it with obvious difficulty, in broken and childish sentences. His Chinese accent is as if God had assigned him a Chinese face by mistake.

I am very fond of Will.

I can easily recall Will as a young boy. Our extended family had all lived together when we first arrived in America. He was a bright and happy child, full of energy and mischief.

Will, the smiling little boy looking at the camera. I am holding a baby.

I don’t think Will was born mentally challenged. I held a strong suspicion that Will’s retardation was the fault of his abusive father’s powerful hands.

Some cultures permit physical discipline against a child. But the practice of spanking typically lands on the buttocks. Will’s father’s thick hands landed on the back of his head frequently, with unchecked force.

I never shared this opinion with any of the family elders. The subject of Will’s condition is taboo among the family. No one talks about Will’s inability to meet life’s rudimentary mile stones, or how he be gotten such a limiting existence. The family was silenced then, and persisted in its silence today.

Dishes began to arrive at our lunch table. When big plates of duck and chicken arrived at our table, those who knew better will immediately steer clear of the lazy Susan. Will will spin the lazy Susan with dangerous speed, and stop abruptly to settle the duck or chicken in front of him. He will proceed to grab the pieces of meat with both bare hands, and devour them like a starved caveman.

I have only known Will to eat duck and chicken at Chinese restaurants. When my aunt and I tried to coax him into eating some vegetables, he shook his head violently.

As the meal winded down, the family traded in feverish eating for leisurely paced eating and friendly chats.

Just as we chatted happily, Will pushed a hand up in the air, and announced, “Can we get the check? I am done eating. I want to go home now.”

My father looked at him, and teased, “You want the check?Are you paying?”

Will’s face broke into a big smile, his dimples on full display, and sheepishly shook his head

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