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 “As long as I live, my family will still be able to survive.” 

Uncle Tu hung up his microphone when we came to his stall beside an old motorbike, a basket containing various types of candies, and a poster with heart-broken words. He is spry for a man in his 70s overcoming many hardships yet still dedicated to his work. When asked about his living condition, he could not help but choke: “Those who suffer, suffer for life. My family has been abjectly poor. My grandparents passed away when I was just a child. My parents have knocked about here and there. I also suffer from the same fate.” I have been through thicks and thins since I was eight. He lives in a 10-meter square hut at Dau Moi Market. The land that his family resides in now belonged to his kind old landowner.

Glancing at his poster on the back of the 900.000 VND Wave, he sobbed uncontrollably. He said: “My sister is disabled, my wife is unable to work, my children also suffer from poverty. I also have a chronic headache, but I am used to it because I do not have any money to go to the hospital. Just a few days ago, I fainted in the middle of the street. Passers-by had to call an ambulance to hospitalize me. But when I found out the total fees, I just sneaked to home.” He said, “I can suffer alone. At least, my family members can have full meals.”

We tried to give him some gifts, but he put them into his bag right away. He probably wanted to save the snacks for the needier. He suddenly recalled a memory, “Once a customer generously gave me the changes, so I could buy my family a few fried cakes and some chicken. For the first time in my life, we had such a delicious meal together. I don’t take money for no reason, I just want people to support my business. Their giveaway of a fortune could not compete with a small sum of money buying my products, and I appreciate it. It drives me to tears sometimes, knowing there are still many kind-hearted people in the world.”

It is already late. We bid farewell to Uncle Tu. He picked up his microphone, continuing to sing at the intersection. He wanted to give his customers the best use of their money, because 10.000 VND for a sweet merely is unreasonable, and also he wanted to attract more customers to his stall. On the way home, his words lingered on our minds, “I only hope to live until Lunar New Year. As long as I live, my family will still be able to survive.”

Photographer: My Kha Ly

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