Through ups and downs, even times when they were on the brink of breakup, Le Cong Truyen and his hearing impaired wife are still firmly hand in hand 11 years after he made a bold decision to marry her.
The first days were the hardest, but Truyen and his hearing-impaired wife, Nguyen Thi Hao, both 35, who now reside in District 7, Ho Chi Minh City, keep pressing on and they are now at an emotional place where they can smile.
Their romance was not always pink.
Truyen and Hao, who left her hometown in the central province of Phu Yen to study and work in Ho Chi Minh City, got to know each other at a charity forum in 2008, shortly after which they began developing special feelings.
Determined to win Hao’s heart, Truyen, an able-bodied young man, took up sign language to communicate with the deaf girl and found himself expressing his affection for her six months later.
Their love soon budded but a wedding was not something the young couple could easily get hold of.
In the world of silence
Truyen’s family moved from Dong Nai Province, neighboring Ho Chi Minh City to the southern metropolis, where his mother worked as a street peddler to cover bills and provide for his education single-handedly following his father’s death.
As the young man entered university majoring in Information Technology, his mother pinned all her hopes on him and would not let anyone disrupt a bright future awaiting her son.
“Until I met and fell in love with Hao, I’d never disobeyed my mom,” Truyen recalled his biggest hurdle in his love journey 11 years ago.
The pair soon tied the knot, and their conjugal life was not a bed of roses.
Unable to hear a thing and control her voice while speaking (with a lisp), Hao clumsily tried to communicate with her in-laws and even to this day, recalls the feelings of confusion and despair she felt when poor communication resulted in misunderstandings during her first days as a daughter-in-law.
“Born into a poor, big family, I was deprived of parental love as I was sent to live with my maternal grandparents when I was little,” Hao shared.
“I’ve always tried my best to be a dutiful daughter-in-law, but my hearing disability sometimes keeps me from pleasing Truyen’s mother. Hope she’ll be sympathetic soon,” she added.
Love put to the test
Hao’s inability to communicate was not the only obstacle during their initial time living under the same roof.
Empty-handed at the time of their marriage, the newly-weds shared a run-down studio with some friends to cut rent, holding their breath while walking on the mezzanine in case it might collapse.
Truyen then quit his job to launch his publishing startup, according to the diary Hao kept around that time.
His company went bankrupt in 2013, burdening the young couple with crippling debts.
Until now, Hao could not forget those difficult years.
“We didn’t have much to spend back then. My husband was under such pressure that there were times he wanted to break up with me over a sense of guilt of failing to build a financially sound life for me,” Hao wrote in her diary.
“I kept encouraging him to get him back on his feet. It was not easy for us to be together, why now let go of each other so quickly?”
One year later, Truyen landed a job at a company while Hao juggled between three part-time jobs and odd jobs.
With fate on their side, the couple managed to pay off their debts before purchasing a small house under the State subsidized housing scheme for low-incomers with only dozens of million dong (VND1 million = US$43) in their budget.
They somehow managed to pay 30 percent of the installments after one year.
For Truyen, the memories of the tough years were still fresh on his mind.
There were times when he worked in different localities, keeping him and his wife constantly on the move, even to Binh Duong Province, approximately 30 kilometers to the north of Ho Chi Minh City.
“Placed under overwhelming financial pressure, I was just throwing tantrums to let off steam,” Truyen recalled, referring to the time he and his wife were not getting along well.
“If I had wanted to let go of her, I wouldn’t have taken her to Binh Duong Province when I was relocated for my work.”
Against all odds, the couple’s love blossomed and bore fruits, with their healthy daughter coming around four years ago.
Breastfeeding and tending to her infant also proved a challenge to a hearing-impaired mother like Hao.
Unable to hear their baby crying at night, Hao’s heart sank seeing Truyen’s sleep interrupted each night to lull the baby to sleep whenever she woke up.
An illness Hao had prior to delivery also prevented her from breastfeeding her baby. She had to rely on breast milk and childcare instructions from kind-hearted neighbors.
Truyen and Hao shared they are better off now than the initial time.
“I used to struggle to use sign language to talk to my wife. Now she can understand what I want to say even when I’m not done with the signs,” Truyen shared happily.
“Our baby adds so much joy to our marital life.”
Hao was made redundant in early 2020 as her company, hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, laid off part-timers.
She now sells items online through Facebook, while her husband takes on web and app designing projects at home.
“Life is better now, at least we don’t have to move constantly and live in run-down studios,” Hao shared.
“Our little angel’s smiles relieve all of our stress and fatigue.”
Truyen is so proud that he is married to such a resourceful woman like Hao.
“She taught me how to use Facebook. Her sense of aesthetics is better than mine though I work as a graphic designer,” Truyen complimented his wife, in response to comments that Hao’s hearing disability may make the couple a mismatched pairing.
“She also takes good care of our young daughter whenever I’m away for work.”
By Ngoc Hanh – Le Van / Tuoi Tre News