The teacher should be in love with the Muong student thanks to 100 letters


Son LaAfter eight years of loving the female student with smiling eyes, Mr. Minh only dared to write a letter to remind him of his studies. When Duong became a colleague, she was the first to say he loved her.

Teacher Nguyen Thanh Minh (46 years old) said that special events in his life seem to happen on heavy rainy days. Twenty-one years ago, on a rainy day in November, a student who had just graduated from Ha Tay Pedagogical College came to Van Ho for the first time. Loving the mountains and forests from the pages of To Hoai, Ma Van Khang since his school days, the 25-year-old boy has never left his hometown, asked to be assigned to teach “anywhere”, as long as it is in a remote area, remote areas, the more remote, the more difficult the better. Van Ho gave him experiences beyond expectations.

The bus stopped at Moc Chau town, it was cold like a knife, Mr. Minh forever found a motorbike taxi, rented it to Song Khue, and was immediately scolded and slapped: “It’s raining and windy like this, mountains and landslides block the road, If you want to die, come in.” It wasn’t until noon when the rain stopped, that the driver took the car to the village. The 50 km road from the street to the village is as soft as a plowed field. After sitting for a few kilometers, the young teacher has to push the cart, walk, and it takes 6 hours to arrive. He took out 150,000 VND to pay for motorbike taxi, exactly one third of the gold thread at that time.

But that night, only the sound of crickets rang in the forest. Rainy day, foggy surroundings, electricity still has not returned to the village. After the first journey of life, the young teacher began to wonder “why is it nothing like my dream”.

The first meal at the home of the local principal, only roasted peanuts, fried eggs and some salted vegetables, the two sat until the night, talking about the school and the village: “This land is miserable, but very affectionate. Then sometimes it holds me back and can’t come back, Master Minh, just wait and see.”

Mr. Minh did not have to wait long to see both the suffering and the gratitude of the Son La people as the principal said. The teacher’s public house at that time was a council room, divided into quarters by a canvas, only fitting a small desk and a single bed from a wooden board.

Mr. Nguyen Thanh Minh at the public office for teachers in Song Khua commune, 2001. Photo: Characters provided

Colleagues told the new teacher to come up, find a crock pot to buy oil to keep in the corner of the house so that at night, he can still prepare lessons and activities. But there are only green forests and gray earth on all sides, there is not even a corner of the market, Mr. Minh comes home twice a year, even a tube of toothpaste or a bar of soap must be carried from the bottom down to use gradually. Homesickness can only be sent by mail. Seeing his colleagues in town every weekend chirping to go home, the young teacher was “very sad”.

That year, Mr. Minh went home to eat his first Tet after three months of going to the forest to teach with dried bamboo shoots and pumpkin seeds, wrapped in crumpled newspapers that the Song Khuu people sent as gifts. Seeing that her son was skinny and wanted to eat anything, but boldly and happily, the mother asked her son “have you thought again?”, teacher Minh just smiled and replied: “After eating Tet, I went back up again. “.

“Is there anyone waiting in Song Khu at that time, why are you in such a hurry?”, Mr. Minh heard the question and turned to his wife, smiling. Duong, sitting next to her, laughed and joked: “Let me tell you quickly, he often suffers from shyness.”

Duong was born in 1983 in a Muong family with 9 siblings, 4 years late to school. In the first class of 9th graders who were taught History by Mr. Minh, an 18-year-old girl stood out among her classmates with long hair and a bright, cheerful smile, but still scared every time. The teacher visited his parents’ house and inquired about his studies. Seeing the teacher’s shadow from afar, she ran to the back of the house, but strangely, Mr. Minh was able to stay and eat at the house of many students, except for Ms. Duong’s house. The female student was even more worried and restless.

The anxiety doubled when a few weeks later, Mr. Minh asked a classmate to give her a handwritten letter, instructing her to study hard. “I’m a student in the third region, with difficult conditions, I try hard to study, later find a stable job, less hard work”, Ms. Duong Bao closed her eyes and still memorized the words her husband wrote in the first letter. First, 21 years ago.

The handwritten letters continued to thicken. Duong regularly receives letters from his teacher twice a week, wondering in his heart: “There are 30 people in the class, each week you write up to 60 other letters?”. The female student asked her friends and quickly realized that she was the only one who received the letter. The young girl vaguely realized the young teacher’s feelings for her, but never dared to ask directly. Mr. Minh never spoke, and Ms. Duong never wrote a reply.

Next September, Ms. Duong went to Moc Chau town to continue studying in high school. Thought that this love would be broken because of the distance, but just a few days after enrolling, Minh’s letter reached her. While she was away from school, Mr. Minh continued to visit and support her parents. He was always quiet and shy, but he always helped with everything. All these stories are told by family members.

Older sister

Ms. Dinh Thi Duong while studying in Son La city, 2006. Photo: Characters provided

The first gift he gave her was on March 8, when she was 20 years old. Mr. Minh took a car over 60 km from Song Khue to Moc Chau to find her, but he hesitated to enter the school gate. He asked a former student to bring a gift box to tell her to give it to her, then we quietly took the bus home. In the boarding room of the dormitory, a few minutes later, a young girl was surprised and happy because for the first time in her life she received a gift “it’s still beautiful, it’s beautiful”.

Duong remembers well, at that time, in addition to a box of shampoo, a winter coat and long-sleeved clothes, there was also a rose with an undelivered letter “in the right style”, so she knew right away, the sender is you.

During her high school years and later when she went to Son La city to study preschool pedagogy, only the handwritten letters from Mr. Minh persistently followed the emotional bond between the two. The content of hundreds of letters were similar, he only encouraged her to study, told stories of villages and schools, still maintaining the same way of addressing teacher – student.

“I have nothing, only sincerity, so Duong chose him, probably seven parts out of love,” teacher Minh said.

In 2007, completing the Intermediate program, returning to Song Khue to work, the former student has now become teacher Duong, his colleague. Seeing that the two people met, they were still shy to call their teacher, confessing to their students, and Duong’s family teased “what are the teachers and students now, let’s go”. “Uncle has been waiting for a long time, she also decided to go, don’t let him wait anymore”, Duong’s brother reminded his sister.

Minh and his wife, Duong.  Photo: Mr. Phu

Mr. and Mrs. Minh and Ms. Duong in their own house in Co Ho village, Song Khua commune, Van Ho district, June 2022. Image: Mr. Phu

Minh confessed to himself in this love affair, he was the one who actively pursued it, but it was his wife who confessed first. On the occasion of National Day 2008, the two had their first date, which was also about Thanh Oai (Hanoi) to introduce his family.

But the journey back home of Mr. Minh is also a long story. At that time, the whole village did not have a bicycle, so usually when Minh came home, he would have to walk for 8 hours to Khu Kha wharf on the Da River, and stay for one night. Usually, there will be a market once every 10 days, so Mr. Minh has to match the date of the market, so that the next morning, he can hitchhike on a merchant’s boat, go 6 hours along the Da Giang river to Hoa Binh wharf, and take a motorbike taxi. to the bus station to go home.

Looking back on the distant journey, it was Duong’s brother who told me, “It’s too far away, or do you think again for him to get married to the lowland so that he won’t have to work hard”. Ms. Duong said, at that time, she thought a lot, but in the end “just let it go, get it”.

In November 2009, the two officially became husband and wife after a quiet love affair lasting 8 years.

The clothes were given as a gift on March 8 of that year, Ms. Duong said that she rarely had the heart to throw them away, still keeping them almost new, along with more than 100 handwritten letters he wrote for 9 years.

“In the future, when the daughter is a little older, the mother and daughter will read together so that the child knows, in the past, how parents loved each other,” she said.

Hope Foundation wishes to build new schools in Van Ho district – where Mr. and Mrs. Duong are working, in order to improve educational facilities in disadvantaged areas of Son La province, and at the same time instill confidence, motivation for teachers on the arduous journey of growing people in the highlands. To accompany the fund, readers can see detailed instructions here.

Hai Thu

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