At the obstetric unit of a hospital in Hanoi, Nho, permanently consigned to a wheelchair following an accident, followed his wife, who has disability with one of her legs.
“Smile, darling,” he called out as she entered the in vitro fertilization room. His wife, Nga, turned around and beamed.
The couple were going to try for a baby. This was last month.
In 10 years, Nho had come a long way from the brink of ending it all.
In 2010, just 23, he had woken up to a nightmare, among a myriad of medical equipment. He had been so badly injured in an accident that he had lost everything below his groin. He had to have seven operations, and then, leave hospital with an artificial anus and a urinary catheter.
His father had died, and his sister was far away delivering her baby, and his mother was very weak.
Nho was taken care of by his uncle, after the accident. Once strong and healthy, he had become a burden. He was done with life. But, as fate would have it, several suicide attempts failed. Then he took refuge in the bottle.
However, “the more I drank, the more I became aware of my condition. The physical pain was nothing compared to the emotional trauma. No body parts, no future. I hated my destiny for giving me such a life,” Nho said.
Nho works 16-18 hours per day these days. Photo VnExpress/Hai Hien.
His sister, a teacher, came home right after giving birth to a baby and burst into tears on seeing her bother.
“Why do you have to cry? My life has ended,” Nho said, breaking down himself.
One night, in his drunken stupor, he heard his baby nephew crying before being soothed by the sister. Sometime later, the baby stopped crying and fell asleep.
It was a moment of epiphany for Nho.
“I suddenly compared myself to the baby. He had stopped crying when his mother cared for him. I had also received love and care from others, so I began to think that I needed to calm down.”
He also remembered what his sister had said: “If you cannot die, you must live well.”
Nho dusted off his computer and started looking for a job on the Internet.
Weeks later, he left the northern province of Thai Binh for Hanoi, to attend a computer course at a school for people with disabilities.
That is here he met Nga, who suffered from muscular atrophy. She was immediately struck by something in his face, although his expression was stony and he showed no inclination to talk.
“He was quiet and did not want to share anything, so I tried to talk to help him to be more engaging. I felt bad. I could walk, at least. He could not.”
Nga wanted to help him, but Nho did not respond to her affection. He had just started a new life, and did not dare dream of a brighter future.
After finishing the course, Nho returned to his hometown since his grandfather was sick. Nga wanted to go with him. “I will go wherever you go,” she said.
Nho and Nga got married in February 2018. Photo coutersy of Nho.
At his house in the countryside, she worked hard and cared for him all the time.
They returned to Hanoi two months later.
They rented a 10 square meters apartment, woke up at 4 a.m. every day to run a tea stall and attended more IT classes in the evening. They earned VND7 million ($300.4) a month and saved VND3 million ($128.8).
“We only ate tofu and vegetables. The fancy food then was stewed fish, which was salty and took us many meals to finish,” Nga remembered.
Later, Nho was recruited by a web design company. Nga also started working in the human resources department.
That was when they thought about getting married, but her family strongly opposed it. They worried that the couple could not have their own house or bear a child in the future.
Nho began thinking about what he could do to convince them.
At the end of 2017, with VND200 million ($8,650) in his savings account, Nho decided to take a loan of VND700 million ($30.279) from the bank to buy a small apartment in Ha Dong District, Hanoi. He also quit his job to establish a team of copywriters and web designers.
Today, Nho has a team of 40 people, many of whom are people with disabilities. Their average salary is VND3-4 million ($129-$173). He works 18 hours per day because the company has attracted more clients.
“Since I have had this company, I have always paid their salaries on time,” Nho said, proudly. In 2 years, they had already repaid half of their debt.
In January 2018, they moved into a new apartment, and one of the first things he said was: “Let’s get married darling. Now your parents can see that I can take care of you.”
A month later, their wedding was held in Hanoi.
Today, almost 2 years after getting married, they embarked on a new phase of their journey.
To have a baby.