Throughout the country’s history, even in the darkest age of feudalism from which male was esteemed and female was contemned, although a woman, during her life-span, was bound in a lot of severe rites and preconception, they were glittering gems in the folk. It is not a coincidence that in folksong, folk literature, and even the stream of noble scholarly literature which has been the product of feudalist ideology, the image of woman has been praised with good virtue of suffering, painstaking, and faith; unknown but so great. Particularly, in the two resistant war against French Colonialists and American Imperialists in the 20th century, women have undertaken many roles. They have been mothers, wives, loving children, waiting for husbands, silently sacrificing all their living for the victory date. They have been volunteer soldiers in the rain of bombs and the rain of bullets. They have not worry about death. In any aspect, women always excellently fulfilled their roles. They have carved in the people’s history a noble and glorious image. In each specific time, women shows different features under the impact of history. However, it is only with one natural character: charity, and loyalty in the roles of mother, wife and sister, which is the glue factor to protect home happiness, they are deserved to be honoured the most beautiful.
At the age of 32, in which 14 years to struggle for the interest of the Vietnamese Worker and of the labourers of a colony, it was seemed that Ton Duc Thang had never thought of his own happiness, the happiness of a warm family. Like many others, love came to Ton Duc Thang suddenly and simply. Appreciating the chivalry and nobility when Ton Duc Thang organized the funeral of his unlucky son, Ba Su Family married off Doan Thi Giau, a good-natured, virtuous girl, who taught in the village-school, known as Ms. Hai Oanh, to Mr. Ton Duc Thang. The wedding, after that, was held in 1921 at the home of Ms. Hai Oanh maternal granparents at Vinh Hoa Hamlet, Vinh Kim Commune, Chua Thanh District, Tien Giang Province.
After the wedding, Ms. Hai Oanh followed her husband to Saigon, living in a rent house. She learnt garment industry, and Mr. Ton Duc Thang worked at many ship-yards, participating in revolutionary struggle. During eight years of conjugal happiness, Mrs. Ton gave birth to two daughters: Ton Thi Hanh and Ton Thi Nghiem. Also during that time, Uncle Ton had devoted a lot to Vietnam Revolutionary Movement: forming the Secret Union, leading Ba Son’s workers to go on strike in 1925, communicating with Nguyen Ai Quoc, organizing the Vietnam Revolution Youth Association. Beside taking care of the family so that Uncle Ton could keep his mind on his work, Mrs. Ton also actively joined the propaganda on equality in women. She also earned money to run a Chinese traditional medicine to assist the Regional Party Headquarter the expenditure of operation.
Such happiness was thought to be endless until she was pregnant her third baby. When she returned to My Tho to visit her family, Uncle Ton was seized by the French Colonialists at Kieu Bridge on 23 July 1929. Haring her husband arrested, from Vinh Kim, My Tho, Mrs. Ton carried her newly-born son to the Saigon City Jail so that his father could see him. The last time when Uncle Ton saw his son was the time He was at Saigon City Jail. He was sentenced 20 years of hard labour, expelled to Poulo Condor. This was the time when Uncle Ton’s family had to face to challenge.
During the days Uncle Ton was exiled to Poulo Condor, Mrs. Ton stayed home to economically nurse the children. There was a time that Mrs. Ton and her children floated to Phnom Penh. A long time later, one of Uncle Ton’s disciple who had been assisted to learn by Uncle, sent them money to return their native land at Kim Son (Chau Thanh District, Tien Giang Province). Although Mrs. Ton had never been to Poulo Condor, she always had in her mind the image that her husband was tortured at the hell on earth of Poulo Condor.
Returning to her native land, it was seemed that Mrs. Ton could feed the children at ease and could be faithful to wait her husband, but the local officials came to court her. Their plot was that “her hus band is a Communist. We must force her to become concubine. She will be in bad odour to be unfaithful to her husband. This psychological blow is able to push Bolsheviks to hopeless mind. A wife, who has been in hug can leave me, let alone idle comrades”. However, despite the local officials’ honeyed words or wicked plot, the woman whose husband was a Revolutionist, has been firm.
At Poulo Condor, Uncle Ton always missed his native land, his virtuous wife, young children and the revolutionary situation in the mainland. At times, thinking of his imprisoned condition, loving his wife and children a lot, Uncle Ton sent letters to Mrs. Ton, telling her not to wait and agreeing that she may marry another. After that, Uncle received his wife’s letter sent from the mainland. It contained some brief lines. After reading, He felt touched, affixing it to his heart. It was written: “Dear Mr. Ton Duc Thang, I hereby notify you. Following your advice, I have married. My husband’s name is Ton Duc Thang, originating from Long Xuyen. We lived together and have three children. The youngest son died unfortunately. Although he is expiled for years, I shall wait. I shall live with him all life long…”.
In 1945, The August Revolution succeeded. Uncle Ton and several comrades who had been jailed at Poulo Condor returned to the mainland. At that time, Uncle Ton was 57 years old. His couple had been apart for 17 years long. Uncle Ton returned with the happiness as same as His wife. However, returning to Vinh Kim, Uncle Ton could drop at his home in a while, seeing his wife and children, and then went away. His wife said: “You should go and take care of the revolutionary and country’s mission. I stay home to fulfil my duties. Please be at ease!” She had no action of sulk, no word of reproach, no expression to worry the step of a revolutionist. It was herself to burden all disadvantages, loneliness, bitterness. In a material of Doctor Tran Huu Nghiep, the writer said:
“Mrs. Ton was buying chickens at the upper village. Hearing her husband’s return, she dropped all of them to run back home. To the home, Mrs. Ton looked at her husband, full of emotion. She could not say anything but hug the pillar with tears ran down! Having no time to say lovely words to his wife and children, He had to leave for Dong Thap Muoi to attend the Southern Regional Party Committee Meeting. After this separation, Uncle Ton was directed to the North. Mrs. Ton stayed at My Tho, joining the resistance war…”
Uncle Ton’s two daughters, Ton Thi Hanh and Ton Thi Nghiem were also led to the volunteer propaganda team to depart to the North. Mrs. Ton stayed home alone. She joined the patriotic women team at My Tho. After that, she was brought to the base (Dong Thap Muoi) to take the children feeding tasks. To the year of 1954, she was regrouped to the North.
To the year of 1954, Uncle Ton’s family could really unite in the North. If not including the fugitive reunion at Vinh Kim, Uncle Ton’s had been separated over 25 years long! All the time of youthfulness had gone… On the date of reunion at Sam Son Beach, friends and relatives asked Mrs. Ton about her feeling when she was to meet Him, She just smiled and said: “Oh, he has always gone out. He has gone to the Revolutionary Mission, let it be!” All were simple as days follow night, warm springs accompany cold winter. It is as natural as Heaven and Earth, but it is how deep and mysterious!
Despite his old age, he did not reduce his love on wife. The story about the pepper-mill, the gift offered by Uncle Ton to his wife, is so moving. In December 1955, Uncle Ton was granted the Stalin International Prize for the Peoples Peace reinforcement by the Stalin (Lenin later) International Peace Prize Committee. The Prize Reward Ceremony was held at Kremlin Palace on 22 Jan 1956. During the time staying in Moscow, the local authority handed Him 10,000 roubles to buy presents for relatives. He bought nothing but a pepper-mill to offer his wife, as: “I love eating bowl-cooked fish with a lot of pepper. Every afternoon, my wife pounds peppercorns in the bowl. They irregularly scatter outside. Her eyes have not been good. She fumbles each grain to put in. May you help me to buy a pepper-mill so that I could offer her. She must be so joyful!”
After that was the time or reunion. One may think they must be honoured as usual: Mrs. Ton, at times, was a Chairwoman of the Standing Committee of the National Assembly, or the Wife of the Vice President, and then to the peak of the wife of the President. However, among us, very few people, can know what her living is. It is a surprise to somebody that the Wife of the President has never known about luxury things. They all, and their daughters, are very simple, brown trousers and simple blouse. At home, Uncle Ton wears shorts, singlet. Like Uncle Ho, Uncle Ton refused to use new sandals. He still wore his worn kaki, his down-at-heel sandals. Uncle Ton often used tongs and hammers to repair bicycles for his daughters and grandsons because: “My hands are still strong, let me do!”. Mrs. Ton sat and mended the pillow-case. Their mind are so immense. We can find a marvellous harmony here, Uncle Ton, during his life-span, devoted all to the country, the people. He lived very simply. We can assure that none of the power-dust can cling to His heart which was bright and pure as pearls and mirror.
Being a girl from My Tho, Mrs. Doan Thi Giau (Mrs. Ton) always expressed her faith to the Party, the Fatherland, and the loyalty up to standard to the career of her husband: liberating the peoples, the working class and laborers. Therefore, she was highly appreciated by her friends and her husband’s friends.
On 25 May 1974, Mrs. Ton passed away to the eternity at 04:00 from a brain haemorrhage. Hearing the new, He felt speechless, telling his driver to take him to the Military Hospital 108. Looking at his companion, Uncle Ton silently kneel down, kissing her, closing her eyes and rubbing her cheeks. While attending Mrs. Ton to her last rest-place, at the moment of coffin lowering, Uncle Ton kneeled down, kowtowing his virtuous wife and dumbfounding in the minutes of last farewell. Mrs. Ton’s death has been a great sadness in Uncle’s heart.
As a habit, each month, on the 25th day, Uncle visited his wife’s tomb. He always offered incense and laying homage in silence. Six years later, in 1980, Uncle Ton passed away. It must be in the eternity that they have met each other without any more separation. It is no exaggeration to say that they have left to the world “an everlasting faithful love story”.
Extracted from “Uncle Ton (1888-1980) ‘s life and career”
Su That Publishing House