Illustration by Đào Quốc Huy Viet Nam News By Nguyễn Ngọc Đào Uyên A siren was echoing from the ferry landing. Hương was busy cooking. It was her daily chore, from early morning to late at night. When she lived with her parents, she did field work, and now with her husband’s family, she had to farm. She planted maize, beans, chili, pepper and cucumber. She was always busy, day in day out. But she was used to it. Every woman she knew was in the same boat. The pot of rice was boiling, spreading its fragrance around the room. She was in deep thought when she heard her husband clearing his throat: “I called you loads, but you didn’t answer! Dish the rice out, now! Oh, by the way, you’ll have to go to the parent-teacher meeting at school for Giao.” Having finished, Tánh, her husband turned and left. He strolled out of the house, leaving the revolting reek of alcohol behind. They had been married for years but she still wasn’t used to that smell. On their wedding night he was … [Read more...] about What a quiet ferry landing!
Viet Nam News The Suicide Elephant by Đỗ Quang Vinh As I stood on stage for the graduation ceremony of our university one morning, I still thought about the ill-fated elephant in the city zoo from six months ago. The animal's death was vivid in my mind, while the MC's introduction sounded totally meaningless. Snapping out of my day dream, I noticed a slender girl in front of me walking off the stage. Looking around, I saw I was alone on stage. The elephant killed itself on a weekend morning, a day that seemed like yesterday to me. I had been on a date with my sweetheart, driving her about on my motorcycle. After a ride along the streets, with her perched uncomfortably behind me, I decided to stop somewhere to relax. The park we normally went to was too crowded, as were our favourite cafes. It felt like our city had shrunk under the hot sun, with horns blaring and a stifling atmosphere. "Where should we go, darling?" I asked her. "What about the zoo? I haven't been there in a … [Read more...] about The Suicide Elephant
Viet Nam News by Tú Lệ It was a decision guaranteed to generate controversy, and it did. Nguyễn Thị Thành, a runner-up at the Miss Eco Tourism Vietnam contest, was disqualified recently because she had undergone dental surgery. She had broken the rules, but were the rules fair? This was the question. According to Point A, Clause 1, Article 10 of Decree No. 79/2012/NĐ-CP, and a recent circular guiding implementation of some of the Decree's provisions, beauty contest candidates in Việt Nam must possess natural beauty. So, whether an amateur or a professional model, you cannot be a contestant if you have undergone any plastic surgery. If any violations are detected, organizers will be held responsible and the contest can even have its license withdrawn. Does this rule level the playing field? When we compare the beauty of women within and outside the country, different criteria seem to apply. "I find that Vietnamese women are loved for their gracefulness, calmness and fair skin. … [Read more...] about An unkind cut? Or cutting edge beauty?
Viet Nam News I made a living by selling my dreams. I had always dreamt vivid, illusory dreams amid my mundane daily life, but I needed money to live. Iwas somewhat snobby when it came to selling dreams. I found it impossible to stand in a market peddling my dreams like someone selling fish or newspapers. I hid my face and kept my identity secret. I was also afraid of selling at the market, for fear that the other sellers would despise me for my snootiness. More dangerously, they might deride my goods. I met a man one late autumn day as the rain hammered down while I washiding under his dilapidated porch. Rain water had flooded the small yard. He opened the door to let me in. He gave me a warm cup of tea in a dimly-lit room smacked with colour. I felt as if I was falling into an illusion and then drifting into a dream without images and sounds where he was the lord, holding a worn-down brush that looked like a scepter. I took a quick glance at him. A series of thoughts suddenly … [Read more...] about A butcher of dreams
Viet Nam News by Mai Tiến Nghị "Here we are! Get off, both of you, please!" the motortaxi driver said. Kha was startled. "Why did he say 'both of you'? I'm the only passenger here..." Kha whispered to himself. "Please, give the helmet back to me. Now, you both take care of yourselves. I'd suggest you both go into the station and get a couchette ticket right away," he said to Kha, who was carefully checking the haversack dangling over his chest with one hand. Once again, the word 'you both' made Kha greatly anxious. He took three banknotes of 100,000 đồng out of his breast pocket. "As was decided by both of us before, this is the whole amount, neither more nor less," he said, giving it to him. The driver received the sum. Still wavering for a few seconds, he put one piece into his trousers pocket and handed the rest back to Kha. "Just one note will do for the consumed fuel. I don't need more," he insisted. "Why? That's such a small charge for a three hour, 150-km trip!" Kha … [Read more...] about The fellow-traveller
Hanoi (VNA) - Stories about individuals living in a village in the northern rural area during the doimoi (renewal) period since 1986 by writer Tran Thanh Canh has received an award from the Vietnam Writers' Association. Entitled Ky Nhan Lang Ngoc (People in Ngoc Village), the book comprises 14 short stories reflecting the life of people in Canh's hometown in the northern province of BacNinh. The book was granted the award for Short Stories of 2015 during a ceremony on February 2. Canh graduated from the Hanoi Medical University and worked as a pharmacist before realising his passion for writing when he was 40. Other awards went to Thong Reo Ngan Hong (Pine Leaves Rustle), a historical novel telling the story of Nguyen Cong Tru (1778-1858) who earned respect as a devoted Confucian scholar and elder statesman. Verse awards went to Vuon Khuya (Garden at Night) by Tran Hung and Long Mach (Good Layer of Earth) by Hoang Tran Cuong. The translation of Nguyen Minh Chau from The Man from … [Read more...] about Vietnam Writers’ Association showcases best works
Viet Nam News by Phạm Thanh Thúy Around when I decided to close ChínKhe Farm for repairs was when the ill-fated tourist came. She told me while pointing towards the highway that she and her friends had been in an accident. Her friends had left for home, but she decided come to this mountain valley. On pitch black nights, a small blue lightoften appeared and flew low over the ChínKhe mountain range. I stared at the light many nights while sitting on the veranda. The light was accompanied with anguished howls echoing from the mountain. Was it a ghost? Father said: "It isNgọc Lam angel taking a walk. There is a shrineto the angel on the mountain top". Then I asked: "But why does she howl while walking?" And father did not answer. I graduated from high school and father asked me not to enter university. I should stay home and work with him. A diploma would not help me and he said that he would not support me after I graduated from university. To create work for a young manlike me, … [Read more...] about ChínKhe mountain range
Viet Nam News by Vũ Thị Huyền Trang The weather in March was quite unpredictable. Out of the blue, it began raining with a cold wind on a previously calm day. An old woman was looking for a pair of pants for her grandson. This weather was a cold snap and she felt her joints ache. The rice fields were submerged in water. All the farm work had to be put on hold. Her daughter-in-law Nhài was sitting still, her eyes fixed on the pitch black sky. She wondered what her daughter-in-law was thinking. Nhài's eyes were unblinking, staring into the wilderness. Eventually, she stood up and walked into the darkness, ignoring her boy's crying and the old woman's calls. She disappeared amid the vast fields and hills. No one followed her. The old woman couldn't see why her daughter-in-law had left. She tried to stand up. It was dark and the firewood was wet. She tried to build a fire. Her grandson Du was playing on the verandah. With his mother gone, he had nobody to play with except a puppy. … [Read more...] about A puppy
No was four years older than his wife Nuong, who grew up in the next village. She often went around the neighborhood to sell vegetables and meat. Once she went to sell things to No's family. When No's father saw the girl's bright, gentle face, he quickly joked: "Eh, girl, do you want to be a daughter-in-law in my family?" Nuong smiled and said nothing. She had come several times to sell things to No's family, but she had not seen him yet. After some time, finally, she saw his face and thought: if only he could be her husband! Now, three years after their marriage, they were yet to have a child. They had gone to visit a doctor in the hospital, but to no avail. They could not afford any treatment in the hospital, so they went to the village pagoda to pray for good luck. To earn a living, Nuong still sold vegetables and meat from village to village. Eventually they were able to afford a motorcycle, meaning that Nuong could sell things farther away. But one day when they went to the … [Read more...] about To the world of nothingness
by Don Thi Tao First Tale A New Century This is a story about my mother and her family. It begins a long time ago in the 1890s, in a small town in An Duong District. The governor of the district was a man named Ca. He lived with a concubine, and together they had three children, all of them daughters. The women worked in the village, planting mulberry trees and rearing silkworms. It was an idyllic life, until one day, the woman discovered that Ca had been unfaithful to her. The same day she took her three children and took them to Ven Village in Hai Phong, where she had some friends. Her daughters were named Mai, Cuc and Truc. As they grew older, they developed into beautiful young women and started drawing attention from a lot of suitors in their village and beyond. The eldest daughter Mai was the first to fall in love. She married a carpenter from Nam Dinh and together they had one boy and one girl in three years. Cuc was married shortly after to a man named Su, the son of … [Read more...] about The Fairy Tales Mother Tells