The wind blows unabatedly

Saturday, 2018-02-24 09:36:47
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Illustration by Do Dung
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Hao Mi Cha was a handsome man with a high, square forehead, bushy eyebrows, bright eyes, white teeth and an attractive smile. Many girls liked him, but he was like a horse that only wanted to graze in his own hamlet.

All of Lung Puc was buzzing with the news that Hao Mi Cha had been missing for a few days.

The people in the village lived together like blood brothers and sisters. If a cow fell from the hill, the whole hamlet would rush to help.

Young people fanned out to search for Cha. Three days later, he was found drunk.

"Where did you find him?" the old man asked, his eyes red with anger.

"Oh, he drank wine with that widow in Cao Ma Po."

"What are you driving at? Drinking wine with a widow? Good heavens! Why did you get with a widow, Cha?"

Then the rumours spread. The hamlet’s residents were very angry with him. His father looked older. He sat with an empty bottle of maize wine, while his mother sulked. His sister looked pale.


When he was 18, Mr Sung married Mrs Kia, and after eight years, they had a daughter named Sen.

Day in day out, Kia worked hard. She always kept a vase of maize wine in the corner of the house so that her husband’s friends could come and enjoy it. She was afraid that her husband would become sad. She was also sad, but her beauty had not faded yet, which was demonstrated by her rosy cheeks, thick hair and two strong arms.

Her mother-in-law had been dead for half a year. One night, she took her husband’s hand, saying softly, "Can I get you another wife?"

Her husband jumped up from the bed.

"What? What did you say?" he yelled.

"Shall I get you another wife so that you can have a son. We did give our promise that we would have a son to worship the ancestors. "

Her husband tried to silence her, but she persisted.

"I’ll get a good wife for you, a girl who can bear you a son."

Her husband grasped her shoulders.

"Listen, I will never marry anyone else. Do you hear me?"

"I did promise your mother... So how can I?" she said.

"I don’t care how."

"But I brought her here already."

"What did you say? Who did you bring here?"

"It’s the daughter of the Lu family from Cao Ma Po. She is sleeping with our daughter Sen."

"What, you think of me as a pig or a goat, don’t you? So where is she? Let me see who is bold enough to come into my house."

He rushed out, but the girl escaped just in time.

He went back to the kitchen and smoked a pipe.

Mrs Kia did not dare to mention the issue with her husband ever again She wondered if the couple would ever have a baby boy.

One afternoon, very late, Mrs Kia stayed in the corn field to pick all of the corncobs. She had a bumper crop that year. She bent over her work when a man appeared in front of her. It was Vang Chin To, her husband’s distant relative. He smiled at her.

"Why are you working so late?" he asked.

"I am about to leave now. I haven’t seen you for quite some time. How are your parents?"

"Very well. I’m also very well, don’t you think?"

"What are you driving at? I don’t understand."

He walked closer to her, looking lustfully at her provocative body. Mrs Kia stepped back, looking around. It was getting darker. He kept smiling.

"I’m told that Mr Sin is not so well these days, and he failed to have a son even though he wanted it so much."

"We’ll have one. No need to hurry."

To moved closer now. He attacked her. She was shouting and struggling. He kept laughing, looking at her greedily.

"Don’t worry, sister-in-law. Listen, I’ll give you a son, so there’s no need for you to get a second wife for your husband."

It was pitch black now. The corn field looked imposing. Her shouting was drowned out by the wind blowing in the valley. Suddenly there was a child’s crying. It was her daughter Sen’s voice. Her father was celebrating a neighbour’s wedding, so she rushed to look for her mother.

If her daughter had not come to her that night, she would surely have not come home. She would have jumped from the cliff. She felt greatly disgraced. But her daughter was so small. She had no heart to leave her alone in this world.

Mrs Kia fell ill for a month. She could not touch any food. When she thought of To’s face, she wanted to vomit. She became withered like a dried bean. She had bad dreams, but she also felt something a stir in her belly. Yes, it was true: she was having a baby. But whose was it?

The baby inside her got bigger and bigger. She thought she would have to get rid of it because it was a devil. She tried to starve herself, but in the end the baby kept growing.

One night, it rained hard. Mrs Kia was having labour pains. The baby was going to see its first light. Her husband sat over a cup of alcohol, his hair tousled. She did not dare to call to him.

She gave birth to the baby.

It was a boy with a moon-like face. She was frightened that it wasn’t her husband’s. Her husband buried the baby’s placenta.

"It’s you that nearly made my wife die. So you must grow up quickly to act as the breadwinner for this family. Don’t make us, your parents, unhappy with you."

The baby cried loudly, echoing all over Lung Puc. Torches were seen fanning out from nearby houses. The local people rushed to come and see the baby’s face. They were glad for Sung’s family. They wished him the best.

Cha grew up quickly. When he was one year old, he had a chubby body. On his birthday, Sung gave him a piece of iron in the hope that he would turn it into a machete in the future.


So Cha grew up fearing his mother, although he did not know why. What he knew was that he had a very important role in the family. So whenever he got ill, the whole clan became worried. They rushed to inquire about his health. He did nothing around the house. All the work was done by his parents and his sister. He put on beautiful dresses with a flute in his hands and sat on a horse to go to one market after another for pleasure. He was handsome and could play the flute very well. Many girls in the area fell in love with him.

Before Tet (Lunar New Year), he went to see some of his friends from Cao Ma Po. His mother said to him: "You know, everybody is busy with preparations for Tet, so don’t go. And you and father have to repair the house."

"But I have made an appointment with them."

Mrs Kia was not very pleased at hearing that. She wanted to slap him in the face, but Mr Sung stopped her in time.

"Let him go. Sen can help me repair the house. It’s nothing."

Cha was finally permitted to go. He jumped for joy and, in the wink of an eye, he disappeared with the tinkling of the bells around the horse’s neck.

Cha returned home on the first day of the new year. He had a worn-out face, tousled hair and bare feet. No horse was with him.

"I offset it with my loss at gambling," he told Mrs Kia.

He went into the maize shed and slept there for three straight days.

He did not know that the horse was very valuable to his father, because it was given by his father’s best friend before he died. Mr Sung cared for the horse for all those years before giving it to Cha when he was old enough. And now the horse has been sold to cover a gambling loss.

Mrs Kia went into the maize shed to fetch him. He had slept for three straight nights. In the end, he was compelled to go to the house. Mr Sung was seen taking a machete and a torch and going out of the house. Mrs Kia was startled.

"Where are you going? It’s still Tet."

"I’ve got something to do."

"What is it?"

"Ah, it’s not your business."

He had spent the whole night away from home. Cha was still sleeping. Mrs Kia tried to wake him up, but Mr Sung said: "Let him be."

"But I can’t bear it. He’ll be given a good lashing for it. Why did he leave his old father to go and reclaim the horse?"

"Calm down! I’ve reclaimed it anyway."

"How did you reclaim it?"

"Not with money – only this."

He showed her the machete. She was stunned.

"I showed them this, and that was enough."

Lying in the maize shed, Cha heard everything.

Mrs Kia fell ill. She became worse when she discovered that Cha had had an affair with the widow. Mr Sung sat by his wife’s side, holding her hands, saying in a low voice: "Are you tired?"

She slightly shook her head: "No, but I am very sleepy."

"No, don’t sleep, dear. Try to
stay awake."

She winked her eyes instead of nodding her head. She knew that she should not sleep, because if she did, she would not wake up again. Having heard her husband’s crying voice, she felt a great pity for him. She knew that she was going to the other world soon. Before she died, she decided to tell him the whole truth. Only by doing that could she close her eyes in peace.

"Don’t sleep, dear. Have you got anything to say to me or to your children?" Sung asked his daughter, who was in the other room.

"Is mother sleeping, dad?" she asked.

"Already sleeping."

He took a water pipe and smoked tobacco, exhaling fumes from his mouth.

"Sen, I’ve got to tell you this."

"What do you want to tell me, dad?" she asked in astonishment.

"I intended not to tell this to you, but now... your mother is leaving you and I in this world, and I find it necessary to tell you."

"Yes, do tell me. Don’t hide it from me."

Mr Sung gazed at the dark outside. The cold wind blew hard.

"You know, Cha, your brother is not my blood son. It’s true. Now your mother is dying, so I want to ask your mother if she agrees to let him go and find his father. And you, do you agree? I give you the right to decide. Do you think it’s advisable for me to ask your mother about it?"

Sen was terror-struck. She was seized with dismay. In all of her 17 years, she had tried to keep this news from her father. Her father would kill her mother. For this reason, she never wanted to marry anyone. She wanted to stay home so that if anything happened, she could prevent it from getting out of control. Whether or not her brother was a good person, he remained her blood brother. She was always afraid that her father would spurn him. She buried her face on father’s shoulder, sobbing.

"Dad! Oh, my dear dad!"

She could only cry.

Mrs Kia drew the blanket up over her face, closed her eyes and breathed so slowly. The wind hissed outside and the dried maize shells whirled about, making shuffling sounds against the wall...

Do Bich Thuy