by Van Dat
Twins come together
Twenty-seven years ago, when Ho Thi Tanh, a poor farmer in An Giang Province gave birth to twin boys, she dreamed that some day, her sons would get married to twin girls.
However, when they were 19, Phan Thanh Ut and Phan Hoang Ut left for Binh Duong Province and found jobs in factories there. To their mother's distress, neither showed any interest in getting married.
Finally, she managed to persuade the elder of the twins to meet a woman of marriageable age in a nearby district in An Giang Province. The meeting, arranged by a local matchmaker, went off well, and the elder of the twins, Thanh Ut, met with his future parents-in-law to discuss the wedding.
It was then that he discovered that his bride-to-be also had a twin sister who was not married. He immediately suggested the latter as a match for his younger brother.
Hoang Uùt, who was in Binh Duong at that time, was asked to return to An Giang urgently.
Parents on both sides were overjoyed because the father of the twin sisters had also thought of getting his daughters married to twin men.
On April 28, the 27-year-old twin brothers wed 26-year-old twin sisters Nguyen Thi Nhan and Nguyen Thi Nhin.
The wedding was a grand affair with villagers who were not invited coming to see what they believe was a predestined match made in heaven. Strangers brought wine and presents to the two families, recalled a happy Phan Van Tuong, the grooms' father.
But the coming together of the twin brothers and sisters has also separated them for the first time.
After the wedding, it was decided that the couples would stay in two different places in order not to give malicious tongues anything to wag about.
Residents of Hoanh Bo District's Dong Lam Commune in the northern province of Quang Ninh believe 58-year-old widow Ban Thi Nam has some abnormal, secret charm.
They can't find any other explanation for the fact that a man 25 years younger than her has insisted on living with her after her husband died 12 years ago.
Thirty-three-year-old Trieu Duc Long, who is a friend of Nam's son, sees nothing untoward, though. It is something he wanted and volunteered to do, he says.
Nam recalled that she met Long when her husband Trieu Duc Hinh became bedridden. Her son brought Long, his close friend, with him when he came to take care of his father. Long helped his friend do it, but when Hinh died in 2001, Long, just 21 then, and utterly poor with no possessions except a knife and ragged clothes, decided to stay on with the 46-year-old widow in the house near a forest on the edge of a stream.
Long has several times rejected his parents' request to leave the woman who is even older than them. Every time they forced him to go home, he returned to Nam's house, even during thunderstorms.
Long says he still visits his parents sometimes, but "I am aware that my wife is old, but I love her and don't like to travel far from her".
The economic condition of Long's family has improved since he decided to stay with Nam. They plant maize and cassava to earn their living. Now they have a bike that he takes her on sometimes to the market to buy groceries and sell to local people in the village.
They harvest their crop together, and later, go together to the forest to pick dry wood.
Nam said his "wife" has also asked him several times to leave and live with his parents, but he has refused to do so. He has "good living conditions here", he said. — VNS