This series was taken from 2013 to 2015, during the two years when my maternal great-grandmother came back to Hue to spend her last days in her hometown. She was 108 years old then, my grandmother 67. Her body had greatly degenerated so she could not take care of herself, all daily activities like eating and wash-up required help from others. Every single day, my grandmother stayed beside my great-grandmother to take care of her, from preparing meals to keeping her personal hygiene.
After retirement, my grandmother fulfilled her childhood wish to become a Buddhist lay devotee. For more than 20 years she had been keeping a vegetarian diet and praying to the Buddha. Buddhist teachings had taught that every being in Samsara could not escape the cycle of life and death; so now my grandmother wholeheartedly committed to great-grandmother and helped her take refuge in the Buddha in the most important time of her life. By doing so, both my grandmother and great-grandmother could be at peace upon confronting loss.
Watching my grandmother caring for her own old mother, I myself became enlightened about filial piety, and I told myself to fulfill the duty to my parents despite people saying that tears only fall downward, that parents’ love to their children is one-sided is a fact of life. Like a Vietnamese proverb goes “Trees have roots, rivers have sources”, as a child of one’s parents, one must knows that one owes a debt of gratitude to those that has given birth to them.
Quoc-Anh Tran is a freelance documentary photographer based in Hue. Beside his personal work, he work constantly with local and foreign NGOs.
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