by Van Dat
Sixty-year-old Van Ninh, a resident of Luc Ngan District in Bac Giang Province has a strange habit that has got him into serious trouble. He apparently likes to attend funerals, so much so that he has been sent to the mental asylum to have his head examined.
But it is not morbid curiosity that drives Ninh. He has the unusual ability of sniffing death in the air, so to speak. Within a radius of around 15 kilometres, he can feel it in his body if someone is about to die. The feeling is accompanied by the urge to attend the funeral. If he does not do so, he will fall sick.
Villagers call him the ambassador of death.
Ninh recognised his ability one night more than ten years ago. He woke up from his slumber with a pain in his chest. He felt compelled to go to a neighbouring village where he stopped at a house where he did not know anyone. But he knew someone was dying there.
That night, he thought he'd been haunted by a ghost and his family did not pay much attention to his newfound ability.
A couple of days later, Ninh was working on the farm when he felt the urged to go to another neighbouring village. He stopped his work and went to the village, where he helped with the funeral of a deceased person whose departure he had divined earlier.
Ninh no longer believes in ghosts. He feels he has a telepathic sixth sense for death in his vicinity. His villagers no longer consider him crazy, they accept his ability as a fact.
Visually impaired Nguyen Thanh Binh, a contestant at the latest edition of the Viet Nam Got Talent show, wowed audiences last week when he told them he could play 15 different musical instruments.
Several weeks earlier, the 24-year-old had impressed judges and audience alike when he played six musical instruments while performing two foreign songs – Baby and Beautiful Girl.
He had at first planned to perform the song with 12 instruments and had actually brought them along, but decided on six because of the time restrictions for each contestant.
However, the talent show was not Binh's first shot at fame. In 2009, Binh won a national prize for Nhung giac mo (the dreams), a song that he composed.
His music education began early. He moved away from home when he was just nine to study at the Nguyen Dinh Chieu School for the Visually Impaired in Ha Noi.
Without anyone to help him, Binh learnt to manage everything on his own. Teachers at the school taught him the art of massage as well as music, and he decided to focus on the latter as a career.
He learnt playing several types of musical instruments from his friends at school. The notes were written in Braille for him to learn. Binh discovered he could pick up the basic principles of each instrument fairly easily.
After learning at the Viet Nam Music Institute for sometime, Binh turned to playing guitar and the piano at coffee shops to earn money, though his family's financial situation was not bad.
Later he opened his own recording studio that has been used by famous singers including Van Mai Huong, Hoang Nghiep, Khac Viet, Le Hieu and My Linh
He had not intended to take part in the national talent contest, but his brother registered his name without telling him and urged their parents to ask Binh to participate. Their encouragement gave him the confidence to go ahead and he was greeted with resounding applause by the audience and positive comments from the judges.
A week before the contest, Binh and his brother rented the music instruments for the performance. Playing the flute was the most challenging task for him, because he had not touched the instrument in more than seven years.
The talent show has opened up Binh's social life further. Many people sent text messages to him, asking to be his friend. One of them is his girlfriend now. — VNS