Finding an old man wallowing in his own filth, a young man with an amputated leg stepped in to help.
His stomach heaved and his heart broke.
Luu Nguyen could not hold back his tears as he beheld the sight before him.
It stank badly. An old man was curled up on a filthy cot. The floor was dirty with urine and feces. A piece of bread mixed with cat poop.
“I had smelt something unpleasant on the second day I got here. When I remarked on it, my teacher said it came from a lonely old man next door.”
Luu decided to call on the old man and the filth and stink that greeted him was overwhelming.
Over the next two nights, he stayed in bed, thinking about what had happened to him threes year earlier.
On September 12, 2016, when Luu, then 20, was working for a jewelery store in Ho Chi Minh City, he was hit by a 7-seater car.
“I begged the couple and their two children in that car to take me to the hospital, but they just looked at each other with fear. I begged the crowd as well, but they just looked away and avoided me. Fifteen minutes later, as I became desperate, a waiter working for a nearby restaurant took me to the hospital in a taxi. Until now, I don’t know who he was, so I can thank him.”
Badly injured, a major part of his left leg had to be amputated. Luu cried for hours in the operating room. Finally, he came to terms with his fate as his karma. After the accident, Luu went back to his hometown Binh Dinh Province, to recover.
Early this year, he started a new career as a tattoo artist. And early this month, he arrived in Vinh Yen, Vinh Phuc Province to attend a course to develop his skills, hoping to open a store in his hometown later.
And then, he ran into this old man living in his own filth. Luu could not get him out of his mind.
“I remembered leaving the operating room with no one by my side. Then I thought of my disability. If I don’t get married, I might be like him – lying in urine and feces,” said Luu, fighting back tears as he spoke.
His own disability would not allow him to help the old man on his own, but luckily, some of his female colleagues, moved by the plight described by Luu, decided to pitch in.
On the fourth of this month, Luu and his friends spent half a day to get he old man out of the house and cleaned the house and all the furniture over the next two days. He gave the old man a shower, bought him new clothes as well as blankets and pillows to prepare for the upcoming winter season.
On the morning of November 9, Luu woke up to an alarm. He’d been used to getting up later after the accident. Now he had something to do before starting classes.
Rubbing his left leg amputated below the knee, he put on his prosthetic leg, and then a shoe on one foot and a sandal on the other.
“Grandpa, have you woken up? Luu shouted. No answer. Just the noise of wild cats. He entered the old man’s house and turned on the light. The old man, body wrapped in a blanket, looked up and seemed unconcerned. A strong unpleasant smell was in the air.
“Have you just pooped on the bathroom floor? It’s getting clogged again. Please use the potty I’ve just bought for you,” Luu said, as he checked the old man’s blanket and changed his clothes. Then he cleaned the old man’s face and fed him.
Wearing a face mask and gloves, he started to clean the house. One hour later, Luu had finished his chores. He returned to the store where he’d come to learn tattooing, after spraying the house with disinfectant and offering incense to man’s dead wife. It was 9:30 am already, all the other students were present and the teacher had already called Luu four times.
Over the last 11 days in Vinh Yen, Luu has spent a week taking care of the old man. He buys and feeds him breakfast and cleans the house every morning. He also buys lunch and dinner.
Luu said, the old man can walk with a walker but has trouble in remembering things. Because of the broken toilet, he poops in the bed.
“His name is Tien and he is 87 years old. His wife passed away five years ago and they don’t have children. He has to live on government aid,” said Pham Quy Loi, head of Residential Group 11, Ngo Quyen Commune, Vinh Yen.
“He is very irritable, so his neighbors don’t want to help him anymore. Even though I help him, he swears at me sometimes. If I am lucky, he would ask me to stay for dinner or stay overnight,” said, Luu grinning.
Luu’s teacher, Hong Sen, 35, said that she first thought the young man was helping the old man to attract attention online, but her doubt turned to admiration on seeing him visit and take care of the old man at least three times a day.
“Luu said he helped the old man out of sympathy. But I told Luu, the fact that you help others does not guarantee someone will help you in the future.
“He can only rely on himself; for example, in this career, he must become outstanding, not just average,” she said.
Luu will finish his course in 20 days.
These days, many people have offered to help Tien after Luu shared his story online.
Luu does not know what the future will bring.
“He doesn’t like it, but I would like him to stay in a nursing home; otherwise, I will hire a maid to help him clean the house. I don’t know what the future will bring, but I will help him as long as I stay here.”