The killers shot my grandfather three times and then, when he was near death, cut off his head.
Then they drove an iron hook into his chest and dragged his body along the ground for about 100 meters before throwing him into a hole that had been dug for him.
After the killing, they confiscated all of my family’s land and belongings and left us with nothing, not even a bowl of rice.
This occurred in 1954 in Vietnam, when I was just 3 years old.
My grandfather was a landowner and had a successful business in the fish sauce industry. He was a kind and honest man who always treated others with generosity, including his employees and their relatives. Yet he was denounced and killed with such cruelty simply for being a landlord, a victim of the so-called “land reform” in North Vietnam from 1953 to 1956.
After my mother told me the tragic story of how my grandfather died, the horrific image of his violent murder haunted me for decades.
My family’s grief and suffering continued long after my grandfather’s death, as people in our community treated us coldly and basically shunned us. We lived in poverty and my growing-up years were filled with pain and misery. Later on, various diseases started to plague me.
But when I was 61 years old, heaven finally smiled on me by bringing me a great gift that led me to a path of health and happiness.
I’m grateful that I’ve been able to live a fulfilling life free of illness for the last five years, and I believe how I achieved that is meant to be shared with as many people as possible. In telling my story, I hope that those who read it will also have an opportunity to benefit from this gift that has enhanced my life in unimaginable ways.
Loss of my Father
After the horrendous loss of my grandfather, my mother taught me to be a good student so that I would be able to escape from our agonizing circumstances.
Little did she expect that tragedy would soon strike again. My father died of poisoning when I was 10 years old, leaving my mother alone to raise me and my younger sister. But she persevered, working her fingers to the bone to make a living to support us.
I was determined to follow her advice so that I could build a better future for all of us. During high school, I woke up at 3 a.m. every morning in order to arrive at school on time. The roundtrip was 25 kilometers, and I walked barefoot since we didn’t have the money to buy shoes.
In winter, there were days when the weather was extremely cold. I would be frozen to the core, but it didn’t stop me from walking to school, never forgetting that my mother also went without shoes as she worked and scrimped to provide for us.
Blocked from College
In my final year of high school, my mother managed to rent a room for me in a house closer to the school. This halved the distance I had to walk each day, from 25 to 12 kilometers.
The owners of the house also provided me with daily meals, and I ate the same food that they ate. They were so poor themselves that some days our food consisted of just coarse powder pounded from roasted rice, and I had to drink water with it to avoid choking.
Despite such meager living conditions, I excelled in my studies and graduated with the second-highest mark in my province. However, my dream of attending college was dashed when I was informed that I would not be accepted because I was the grandchild of a landlord.
All my hopes came tumbling down, and I was too devastated to even see my friends. I had no choice but to suppress my feelings and go in a different direction. To make a living, I enrolled in teacher training and became a secondary school teacher.
Losing My Mother
Tragedy struck again when my mother fell ill and passed away. She had remarried at age 40 and then died only 10 months after giving birth to my half-brother.
The most regretful and heartbreaking thing of all was that I was unable to take care of her while she was sick, and even had no chance to see her one last time before she died.
I was 23 years old at the time, a young teacher married for just over a year. Suddenly, the responsibility fell on me to support my 18-year-old sister and raise my infant brother.
Plagued with Illnesses
Perhaps it was due to the ongoing poverty and mental wounds I endured that illness eventually began manifesting in my body. This started soon after I turned 50, in 2001.