It was a conversation with the old man who wrote the last letter in Saigon because his health was weak. Although he quit his job, he secretly took the bus to the post office. A corner of the Ho Chi Minh City Post Office suddenly became empty without Mr. Wu’s shadow; many people looked for him in despair and nostalgia. Mr. Wukong has entered the “rare” age of 91; his ears are deaf, his limbs are weak, and his eyes are gradually cloudy.
This article below is the newspaper about Mr. Ngo – the writer of the rental letter at the Ho Chi Minh City Post Office. Read the article to know more about one of the most extraordinary things in Saigon and at the Ho Chi Minh City Post Office.
Over 70 years with the post office
At the beginning of Phan Van Han Street, Ward 17, Binh Thanh District, I asked about Mr. Ngo’s house – the writer of the rental letter at the City Post Office; everyone enthusiastically showed me the alley leading to his house. They taught me to the door: “There, it’s your house, come in.”
Mr. Ngo sat in the living room; his figure was small and much thinner than when he went to work. He said he officially resigned from the City Post Office in November 2020. Just before that, he had a bicycle accident at the end of the alley near his house, so he had to go to the hospital for 3 weeks. When he was old and weak, his eyes gradually became cloudy, and his left ear became deaf, so his children advised him to quit his job.
“My eyes gradually blurred, and I couldn’t read the billboards on the road anymore, so I had to leave my job at the post office”. I’m unfortunate because my whole life is attached to it. I didn’t know how many people asked for a photo when I went to work. I work there, everyone knows it, everyone loves it, “recalled Mr. Ngo.
Mr. Wu is 91 years old and has worked in the post office for 74 years. He attended Petrus Ky School (now Le Hong Phong High School). At 17, he started working at Thi Nghe Post Office and served as the Chief of Staff (secretary) of the post office at 18. At 36, he was sent by the City Post Office to study English and French for work. In 1990, he retired, and due to his proficiency in English and French, he was hired by the postmaster to translate and write letters at the post office.
Every day, at 7 am, he pedaled his bike to work. At 4 pm, he rode his bicycle again. Saturday, and Sunday, he was off. In addition to transmitting the content of guests’ letters from one language to another, Mr. Ngo always keeps a beautiful image of the gentle old man, holds a magnifying glass to look up the dictionary, and enthusiastically guides and tells stories about Saigon in the past and now to visitors to the post office. Also, from the time of doing this job, Mr. Wu became a celebrity at the post office and was known to many international friends. Many reporters in countries: Germany, France, Japan… wrote articles about him.
For 30 years as a translator and letter writer, Mr. Ngo said his rule was to “keep secrets and forget everything written” because the person who asked him trusted him and confided his thoughts and feelings to him. He respected them. He also only received a fee of 10,000 – 30,000/time, not more. Mr. Wukong does not consider this job to make a living; he does it because he loves it and wants to promote the country.
“My clients value all the same. There are strangers; sometimes, they visit me and hug me like family. Many people surprised me; there was her on Hang Xanh a few months ago who gave me an embroidery of Tho”, as he showed me an embroidery picture hanging in the middle of the living room.
VND 20 million from the KOVA prize is the most significant amount obtained
Duong Xuan Diem, the eldest daughter of Mr. Ngo, said that her parents have 6 children (4 girls, 2 boys). Diem’s mother has end-stage kidney disease and is bedridden, and one of her sisters is mentally ill. Diem is not married; she takes care of eating and drinking for her father every day. Not wanting to bother his daughter, although his eyes were gradually cloudy, Mr. Ngo washed and washed himself.
Ms. Diem proudly showed me each photo hanging on the living room wall. It is a photo and postcard of a French guest thanking Mr. Ngo for being a bridge of grace for them and their couple, a picture of artist Hoai Linh with his three sisters at the City Post Office, a Certificate of Vietnam’s longest-standing letter writer from the Vietnam Record Book Center, a KOVA award in the Beautiful Life category… Her father, as well as her family members, consider them treasures, joys, and great pride.
When talking about the KOVA award, Mr. Ngo said he was surprised because he received this award in 2016. He was pleased because he felt useful and spread good value to life. This is also the first time in his life that he owns an enormous amount of money, up to 20 million VND. With the money his children had saved for him, he received more than 80,000 VNDin interest each month.
Unfortunately, there was no successor
Since staying home, Mr. Wukong said he was unfortunate and disappointed because his whole life was at the post office. He remembered every corner, corner, and chair he sat on daily. Mr. Ngo said his biggest wish right now is to be healthy and soon be able to visit the Ben Thanh – Suoi Tien metro line. The day before, his daughter drove him through the Thu Thiem tunnel; he was very impressed with the Saigon River tunnel with the “buzzing noise.”
When asked about his handwritten successor, Mr. Wu said in a low, sad voice: “I need. I need a successor. In the past, many people were also coming to study, old and young, but they were too greedy for money, and guests asked to bargain for cash. Doing this job must be mindful, not thinking about money. I help guests; they pay 5,000 or 10,000 VND, and it’s okay not to pay. ”
According to Mr. Wukong, he regularly gave money earned from handwriting rented to lottery ticket sellers in the post office area. “After my father quit working at the post office, many meals for Ms. Giang (lottery ticket seller) bought rice and then rented a car to bring it to my father because she worried that my father would stay home without rice to eat”, Diem said.
With over 70 years with the post office and 30 years working as a hired letter writer, Mr. Ngo can’t remember how many handwritten letters he wrote, connecting how many Vietnamese people to distant countries.
Now at the threshold of “near and far,” Mr. Wu’s hands and feet have trembled, and his elite eyes have become opaque, but the memories of the years attached to the post office and the people here are still in his memory.
“I missed the post office so much last month because I was so busy working that I slipped my son out to catch the bus. My eyes can only see shadows now, but I can still get there. I don’t lose money on the bus. “It was great to meet everyone,” Mr. Wukong stated.
*Update: Lily’s Travel is so sorry to announce that Mr. Ngo passed away On August 1st at his home in Ho Chi Minh city.
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