At 17 o’clock, people rush to return home after a day of work. In the house at the end of alley 78, Tan Thoi Nhat Street (District 12), Ms. Nguyen Thi Huong (26 years old, from H.Kim Son, Ninh Binh) holds her baby while preparing dinner. Mr. Mai Van Hai (30 years old, her husband Huong) works as a freelancer. The last days of the year try to do many things to have more money.
Previously, Ms. Huong worked at an intervention center for children with autism. However, since the Covid-19 epidemic and she gave birth to her first son, she had to stay at home without any extra income. She and her husband make constant efforts because they still have to raise their younger brother, who is studying in college. She is the 7th child in a family of 8 siblings.
“My family also has a disabled brother, whose parents are farmers. My husband is an orphan and has lived with his adoptive parents since childhood. He works hard, does everything from electricians, welders, etc., looking forward to having money in the fields to take care of his daily life,” she said.
Because she wanted to save money, in 2019 she did not return to her hometown to celebrate Tet. She took a part-time job at a Quang noodle shop. She worked busy until 10 at night to forget the homesickness, miss the Tet atmosphere in the countryside. In the small motel room, she felt so helpless and lonely.
At that time, her room was small, only about 4 bricks in length. On New Year’s Day, she tries to cook for dinner. There are no banh chung, no full tray of rice and no smiles and loving eyes of parents.
“I still remember that motel room only had enough of a small mat, half the room was filled with sunlight. At that time, I was unmarried and still alone. New Year, but staying in the room, it’s more boring than usual because the nostalgia for family suddenly comes very sad and pitiful, “she confided.
When her daughter did not return to her hometown to celebrate Tet, Mrs. Ngo Thi Ngoc (60 years old, Huong’s mother) missed her daughter with tears in her eyes. The tray of rice on Tet holiday without a daughter, the family still cannot reunite. The whole year is long, she always wants her children to come back in large numbers on Tet, but because of difficult circumstances, she understands and loves them even more.
She thinks that the night of the 30th and the first day of the Lunar New Year is the moment of reunion, the most meaningful and sacred time for each family. Sitting by the tray of rice, she felt that she was missing a daughter, so she could only call to ask. Talking on the phone, she tried not to burst into tears, mother and daughter comforted each other, hoping for many good things in the new year.
In the days close to the Lunar New Year, Huong tries to see the plane ticket to her hometown. The longing for family reunion seems to be extinguished when the system shows a ticket price of about 3 million VND/person/way. The whole family will have to pay too much for the ticket. Her son drinks formula milk because she has no milk.
Not long after that, she broke down in happiness when the whole family received a plane ticket from the program “Bring Tet home”. This is a program organized by the Central Committee of the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union and Pepsi brand for Vietnamese citizens in Japan, students and workers with difficult circumstances returning to their hometown to celebrate Tet.
The organizers coordinated with Vietnam Airlines to organize 3 flights (Japan – Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City – Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City – Dong Hoi) in collaboration with car suppliers to organize 80 flights cars to the central and northern provinces. This is the third year the program has been held.
Returning home, she will try to fulfill her mother’s wish before it is too late. Her mother is suffering from a serious illness.
In a small apartment about 10m2 At Street No. 5, KP2, Linh Xuan Ward, Thu Duc City (HCMC), Ms. Nguyen Thi Lap (39 years old, from H. Huong Khe, Ha Tinh) lulls her child to sleep in a hammock. Lap and her husband have two sons (the eldest is 11 years old, the second one is 2 years old).
Lap works as a worker with a basic salary of about 6 million VND. Low salary, she has to work overtime to pay for living expenses and raise her children to school. However, after the Covid-19 epidemic, orders were low, and work became precarious. The second child is too young, she has to stay at home often to take care of the children, her husband has to work even harder.
For the past 4 years, she has not returned to her hometown to celebrate Tet. Last time, the first son went with his grandparents by coach to stay with his parents. The distance traveled far, I was obsessed with the scene of a long-distance car ride, so I decided not to go again. She and her husband couldn’t afford to buy plane tickets for the whole family, so they had to endure the Tet holiday in a small apartment.
It’s called Tet, but those days are like Sundays. She encouraged her children year after year, but because she was too short, she could not return to her hometown for 4 years. Her family has 9 children, she is the 6th child.
Mr. Nguyen Thinh (72 years old, Lap’s father) knows his daughter’s situation, so he can only encourage her to stay and enjoy Tet. He couldn’t help but feel sad when he talked about his son. He always wanted Lap’s family to return to her hometown so that the whole family could gather together. “Every parent wants their child to come home for Tet, but they have no means to accept it. If my children do not come back, I will be very sad, the atmosphere of Tet will be darker. I’ve been away from home for a long time, I can only call and ask. Sitting next to the tray of rice, I can’t help but think of my son,” he shared.