Peasant Autonomy
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Story 141

A small village in Vietnam – 1989 (2)

Mayor Duong

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(Photo: Fabulousfabs)


“So, how is mayor Duong now?” Hàng finally asks the peasant who is sitting next to her. “Well, my girl, he has left for Hell,” he answers loudly. Then all the men start laughing hard, and all the women poke each other with the elbows in their sides and giggle. Hàng is a pale and a bit skinny girl with vivid bright eyes. She lives in Hanoi, but she is now visiting her aunt Tâm in the village where her mother had previously lived. Aunt Tâm is so fond of her that she from time to time sends a nephew with a Honda to Hanoi to pick her up for some festivity or another.
Last time she was here everyone was talking about 'that pig Duong' who tried to take away the orchard from Mrs. Hai. She was a poor woman, who was on her own. Her son had been killed in the war, and her husband had also passed away. She lived from her orchard. The mayor had put his mind on her piece of land to build a house on it for his newly married daughter. Hàng had often recalled this story, and wondered how it had ended up.

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(Photo: Pedro Alonso)


In the kitchen Hàng meets Mrs. Dua, her aunt’s servant. She is busy with all different kinds of dishes for the guests, but she still finds some time to tell the story of Mrs. Hai. “That pig, Duong did indeed manage to usurp the land of Mrs. Hai. He had bribed all the officials who are in charge of land acquisition. Everyone in the village was angry, but we couldn't do anything. Duong is a member of the Communist Party, and being a villager, as a peasant you are powerless.”

Mrs. Dua stokes up the fire, stirs several pots, takes a deep breath, and continues her story. “Mrs. Hai wandered the village with big dark circles under her eyes. At night she often slept in the cemetery, near the grave of her son. One evening she saw that the gate of that pig was accidentally not locked. Like a ghost she sneaked inside and saw that that Duong was feeding his newborn puppies mush. Under her dress she carried a sledgehammer. With it she hit him on the back of his head as hard as she could. He died in a single stroke. Then she ran to her hut, sprinkled kerosene everywhere, and hung herself, after setting her hut on fire. We all tried to put out the fire, but it was already too late, Mrs. Hai was dead.”

Mrs. Dua carries on with cooking; in the living room the party goes on merrily. But Hàng is overwhelmed, she is totally numb, empty.


The novel Paradise of the Blind (1988) written by the Vietnamese author Duong Thu Huong tells about a poor girl, growing up in Hanoi. From her mother she hears stories about the small village where she came from.

Go to:
= part 1: Class analysis - a small village in Vietnam – 1955 (1), story 116.
= the next page: Saga is still alive! - a village in Burkina Faso – 1990, story 142.
= the Table of contents, story 141.