At 67, Nguyễn Đăng Hành of Hà Nội’s Gia Lâm District is of sound body and mind.
But he cannot remember how many grandchildren he has.
He clearly remembers each of his 16 wives, the circumstances in which they met and procreated, and the 24 children he sired, but no, sir, he cannot extend the memory to grandchildren, because that was not part of the plan or pact.
Each one of his wives agreed to marry him fairly soon after they met.
“All of them volunteered to love me and become my wife,” he said.
If he’d tied the knot so many times, he must have tied himself in impossible knots, one would think, but one would have to think again.
Before the marriage, Hành and his fiancés agreed that they would help each other whenever they could, and not tie themselves to each other, i.e., not depend on each other.
So, after the wedding, each wife lived with Hành for a while, and then went away to raise their children on her own. They’ve rarely bothered to re-connect with him, as agreed.
There were times Hành got married every six months. After the first few times, his relatives were fed up and refused to attend his weddings, so he had to ask friends and even relatives of his former wives to help out with their presence.
No wife made her marriage with Hành official, and they registered their children as single mothers.
“I got married because I wanted to help them have children so that they have someone to lean on when they are old,” said the kind-hearted, compassionate Hành.
All his wives live in different places, the closest one is about four kilometres away.
The last time Hành got married was in 2003.
He has since decided to live alone until the end of his life. He lives in a small house and works as a guard for a nearby supermarket. He does not miss his wives and children.
“All of them are happy, wealthy and their children are good, so I do not have to worry,” Hành said.
“I did every thing I promised for my wives, and I do not feel ashamed and my conscience is clear.”
With the long experience he’s had, Hành is inured to criticism that he is an irresponsible person. He is not responsible for others getting their knickers in a knot. — VNS