by Van Dat
A knotty problem
Two adults want to tie the knot and be there for each other until death parts them.
But the groom, Ha Van Toi, and the bride, Bui Thi Vinh, both residents of Ben Tre Province's Cho Lach District, are finding it difficult, if not impossible, to get the blessings of their respective families for the union, although the community at large wishes them well.
Therefore, instead of the church ceremony they want, the couple have had to be content, so far, with getting a marriage certificate from the local administration, the Phu Phung Commune's People's Committee.
The problem that families on either side have about the marriage is that the bride and the groom are 91 years old. Children, grandchildren and great grand children are all reportedly opposed to the union.
However, local authorities have said that stopping the ceremony would be illegal act and promised to support the couple of sound "health and mind". Two weeks ago, the couple went to the church to celebrate their wedding ceremony but they were thwarted by relatives.
The 91-year-old bride now confesses that she often cries after waking up because she "feels lonely".
"Toi loves me, but I don't know why my children and grand children don't sympathise and support us," Vinh said.
Vinh's first husband died more than 40 years ago, and she has been living alone for several years now. Her children visit her sometimes but she wants a companion who will always be by her side, especially when she falls sick.
Her children are afraid that Vinh is senile and that her decision is not wise. But she looks much younger than her age, and by all accounts, is a smart and healthy woman.
Best father bar none
Dinh Van Tam (not his real name), now in his eighties, has never fathered a child, but has been an ideal father to three children his wife bore with other men.
The surprising story of a man who overcame his circumstances with love and compassion was narrated by the son of his friend, Nguyen Van Ca.
Tam, a resident of Lam Thao District in the northern province of Phu Tho, was a strong, muscular man who worked for the navy during war time, transporting weapons and supplies to the South from the North.
Because he was constantly away from home, his wife stayed with Ca and his wife. All three of them worked at the local military hospital, and his wife had affairs with men she met there, giving birth to three children.
Tam knew the children were not his, but lavished love and care on them as if they were his own. At first, his wife and children lived in Ca's house, but to avoid the gossip of neighbours and relatives, Tam moved his family to the countryside.
The children are now married. Tam has constantly supported them and even used his pension to help bring up two grandchildren born to the first son.
Recently, when his wife fell very sick, he cared for her himself, doing all the washing and cooking, preparing her medicine and helping her walk, because the three children are not very well off and live elsewhere.
Tam cries a lot thinking about the past, especially at the death anniversaries of Ca and his wife. It was only recently he revealed that he had asked his wife to have children with other men after learning he could not have them.
Their mother has told the three children about their biological fathers, but none of them are interested in getting in touch with the latter. They say they could not have a better father than the one they have now. — VNS