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Still alive

I brought my mother to the Center for Hematology & Blood Transfusions at Hue Central Hospital a month ago.

We stayed in a room with three others, including a girl named Hoa who was opposite to my mother. She was young, very pretty, with long black hair. But her skin was so pale it almost looked transparent.

A young man brought her lunch every day and her face lit up with joy each time. They ate together, hand in hand, and I could tell other people in the room were a bit annoyed by the public display of affection.

When the young man left for work, the girl’s parents would stay with her. They stayed until the evening when the young man returned. The girl’s father scolded him, saying he should go home and take a rest after work while the mother told him that he had grown weak after tending to the girl every night for the past month.

After seeing the girl and the boy so attached to each other all the time, I was no longer annoyed.

Her father told me their story in the corridor one day.

Hoa worked for a bank and was very happy with her lover, an engineer.

But one day she lost consciousness and was hospitalized. Doctors told her she had leukemia.

The parents had told the young man to find another woman, but he insisted on marrying Hoa. On the wedding day, an ambulance was rented in case it was needed; and it was. Hoa has been at the hospital ever since and her husband has cared for her every day.

My mother stayed at the hospital for 30 days, enough time for me to see the man take care of his wife, with whom he had never shared a wedding night.

A month later, my mother was hospitalized again but in another room. I went to visit Hoa. The husband was still there, and Hoa’s head had been shaved. She was weaker and her husband thinner, but they were still happy together.

When the couple recognized me, a smiling Hoa said, “Seeing you again makes me feel so happy, because I know that I am alive. But I’m sad because your mother is here again.” I left the room and cried in the corridor like a child.

By Nguyen The Thinh

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