. Sinh tại Hà Nội
. Quê gốc : Vĩ Dạ - Huế
. Hiện làm việc ở Ban Sáng tác- Hội Nhà văn Việt Nam
. Tốt nghiệp Cao đẳng Sư phạm ( khoa Toán Lý )
. Tốt nghiệp thủ khoa khoá 4 Trường viết văn Nguyễn Du
. Hội viên Hội Nhà văn VN , Hội Nhà văn Hà Nội , Hội Nhà báo VN , Hội Điện ảnh VN.
. Phó Giám Đốc Công Ty Truyền Thông Hà Thế (Hà Nội).


. Tập truyện ngắn Vĩnh biệt giấc mơ ngọt ngào ( NXB Văn học - 1992 )
. Tập truyện ngắn Bầy hươu nhảy múa ( NXB Văn học - 1994 )
. Tập truyện ngắn Cổ tích cho tuổi học trò ( NXB Kim Đồng - 1994 )
. Tập truyện dài Chiếc hộp gia bảo ( NXB Kim Đồng - 1997 )
. Tập truyện ngắn Kẻ đối đầu ( NXB Hội Nhà văn - 1998 )
. Tập truyện dài Chuyện ở rừng Sồi ( NXB Trẻ - 1998 , NXB Kim Đồng - 1999 )
. Tập truyện ngắn Giá nhang đèn và những truyện khác ( NXB Hà Nội - 1999 )
. Tập truyện ngắn Màu vàng thần tiên ( NXB Kim Đồng - 2001)
. Tập Truyện ngắn Võ Thị Xuân Hà ( NXB Phụ nữ.- 2002)
. Tập truyện ngắn Chuyện của con gái người hát rong (NXB Hà Nội - 2004)
. Tiểu thuyết Tường thành ( NXB Hội nhà văn - 2004)
. Tiểu thuyết Trong nước giá lạnh ( NXB Phụ nữ - 2004)


- Tặng thưởng Cuộc thi truyện viết cho thiếu nhi, tập Chiếc hộp gia bảo - NXB Kim Đồng 1996
- Giải thưởng sách hay, tập Kẻ đối đầu - NXB Hội Nhà văn 1998.
- Giải B Hội liên hiệp Văn học nghệ thuật Việt Nam, năm 2003 cho tập Truyện ngắn Võ Thị Xuân Hà.
- Giải nhất truyện ngắn Bạn rừng, báo Thiếu niên tiền phong, năm 2001
- Giải C kịch bản điện ảnh Chiếc hộp gia bảo ( Hãng phim truyện Việt Nam, 1997 )
- Giải khuyến khích kịch bản Chuyện ở rừng Sồi ( Cục Điện ảnh, 1998 )
- Giải C kịch bản Đất lặng lẽ ( Điện ảnh Quân đội, 2000 ).
- Giải khuyến khích kịch bản Trăng nơi đáy giếng ( Cục Điện ảnh, 2003)

. Quê gốc: Đà Nẵng
. Sinh năm 1961 tại Sài Gòn (TP.HCM.)
. Cử nhân ngữ văn Việt & cử nhân Anh văn
. Giáo viên Trường Ngoại ngữ Không Gian TP.HCM.

. Dịch giả Anh - Việt & Việt - Anh: đã biên dịch hơn trăm tập sách (có đầu sách gồm 5, 7 tập).

. Sáng tác Truyện Thiếu Nhi:

. Chuyện Cổ Tích Của Vườn - tác phẩm đoạt giải A trong cuộc vận động sáng tác của Nxb. Trẻ Tp.HCM.

. Văn Học Thiếu Nhi Vì Tương Lai Đất Nước , lần thứ nhất, 1993.

. Nhạc Giữa Trời , đoạt giải A Nxb. Kim Đồng, 1995.

Tranh của họa sĩ Trịnh Thanh Tùng


. Chapter 1

I regretted that I had loved you like crazy

But at last you turned around…

(lyrics of the song “A Nice Dream Of A Couple”)


My name was Kim. That year, I was sixteen. My dad called me Út. I didn’t have sisters or brothers but he still called me Út so that I couldn’t be sick. If I had had a younger brother or a younger sister, my dad would have called him (or her) Little Út. But I was really the only child in the family. I didn’t know my dad’s name. People called him Ba, the street performer. Then I thought he didn’t have other names, excepted that name. My mom died when I was two therefore I couln’t remember her face, just a sad look of a Kim Long girl, Huế province. After her death, it seemed her own name was erased. If she was needed, people would call her aunty Ba. Women like me didn’t need a name.

My dad had an old tent near Vọc wharf (at the upper of Hương river), and a set of ancient musical instruments. Besides, he had a leather bag for the coins that pedestriants usually gave him. Twice a month, I waded into the river to wash the dirt inside the bag. I myself knew that the coins were very dirty. If the monks in the pagoda hadn’t opened the boxes of donation to clean so often, dirt would have covered Buddha’s eyes. Then how could Buddha see the world clearly?

My dad and I also had a small trunk in which we stored my mom’s old clothes, my toys when I was young, and a wooden box of four hundred sixty thousand dongs in red ten thoudand dong bills. It was buried under my dad’s bamboo bed. He picked this small trunk at the wharf ten years ago. He said it was a trunk of K54 cartridges and it was still brand new. He used to store his precious in a nylon bag, then put it in a sandbag, then buried it. Sometimes he took that sandbag out of the dirt, and it was still as fresh as new.

In my hometown, sandbags were very useful. In the war, the US soldiers had used sandbags to make their ramparts because the nylon was tough and long-lasting. Herdsboys or fisherman’s children frequently went to the old battle fields, looked for sandbags. They shook sand off, then sold the bags for a little money. No matter how tough they were, they couldn’t be used forever.

My dad was very happy since he had a trunk. He kept my mom’s clothes carefully, he said if he had died, he would have brought them with him to find her. I was afraid that she would be someone’s wife already. But he said she wouldn’t know what to do without him. I asked him why he stored my old toys. Nowsaday children didn’t play those kinds of games. How could my old toys compare to that little Lan’s teddy bear? But he insisted to store it for later. Not again. He always wished the family would unite. I asked why he didn’t allow me to get married. He answered annoyedly, if I wanted to get married, just did it. I understood his anger, because if I had got married, I wouldn’t have gone out and sung with him. But who would marry a daughter of a poor street performer like me?

I didn’t know why I liked teddy bears very much. In my dream, I saw myself hug a teddy bear, sleeping. Then it hugged me back as my mom. But it was really my mom. Her breath was warm when she hugged me, was cold when she hugged my dad. Oh, there I lay down, missed my mom so much. My dad said when he saved enough five hundred thousand dongs, he would buy a very big teddy bear for me. But after that, where did we put it in our tiny tent? What if the neighbor children opened the tent door and stole it when we weren’t home? Ok, just let it be.


No matter it was sunny or rainy, my dad and I left the tent everyday. We took turns playing music instruments and singing songs. But usually my dad did all of our work, played the guitar and sang songs. I took my turn when he felt tired. Nowsaday his voice wasn’t as good as before. Though my voice was better, it couldn’t be compared to my dad’s voice which made my mom leave her house for him.

On the streets, my dad and I performed all of the songs from the North to the South. At noon, we had lunch with two loaves of bread with cold meat. We sat down beside a tree which had a lot of yellow flowers, eating in silence. He brought with him a small bottle of liquor, after lunch, he took some sips of liquor then lay down on everywhere he liked and slept…

Sometimes, my dad and I went to a diner, ordered two dishes of rice with a lot of seafood. After that, he took me to Hàng Phượng coffee shop near by. There, he drank a cup of iced coffee, I drank a glass of coconut juice.

Those were few nice days in Huế. Miss Sen, a waitress of Hàng Phượng coffee shop, served the customers very hard. Her rosy face was in sweat but her eyes kept looking at my dad as if she wanted to take his heart out. Sen was from Thuận An sea. She was tall, nice body with her full breasts. But her eyes were as sharp as a knife. My dad said men were afraid of that kind of girls. But I saw male customers weren’t afraid of her. They teased the waitresses a lot, especially Sen, making me feel sorry for her.

Sen always gave me money when I sang the song “A Nice Dream Of A Couple”. At that time, my dad was enjoying his cup of coffee and his guitar was sleeping on his thighs. I sang that song because some rich customers asked me to. They said they felt bored with the girls in karaoke shop, with the “linga” magnifying their voices into thousands pieces. They said they liked to hear a poor voice due to lack of food, ah no, a labor voice. Ok, if they wanted a labor voice, I would sing songs with my labor voice. “Remember that day we loved each other passionately, we were always beside each other, we weaved a lot of dreams…” I sang songs without my dad’s guitar, because the guitar would reduce the sweetness in my voice.

Hearing my songs, no one refused giving me some coins. But Sen gave me more than they. She tried not to take notes three cups of Trung Nguyên coffee of three customers, gave me a half, that meant twelve thousand dongs. Since she did it in front of the customers, I couldn’t give that money back to her. Well, I had to owe her…

When my dad didn’t notice, she softly asked me to let her live with my dad. I choked. That was a difficult to answer. We owed her money, not love. She said she just borrowed my dad in this world, after he died, she would give him back to my mom. I smiled, saying that I hadn’t heard about women borrowing others’ husbands, so let my dad alone, ‘cause she would be miserable if she followed him. Sen kept silent, her tears dropped down her violet uniform. I din’t understand why Sen loved my dad. She looked like his daughter and she was very beautiful.

I really didn’t know there were incredible things in this world.

In Huế, Hàng Phượng coffee shop was famous not for the big sign Trung Nguyen coffee on its roof but for the quality of home-made coffee. The boss was mister Thanh. He was thirty two years old. He was tall, nice face, dark eye-brows, but my dad said that his ears were rather thin. Thanh’s wife was a royal member. Her name was unthinkable: Ton Nu Huyen Thuy Ngoc Chau. She was four years younger than he. She was small but lithe and lissome. She walked as lightly as a wind. She might study at Trưng Trắc school, but her parents didn’t let her go. They made her marry the boss of Hàng Phượng coffee shop. Mister Thanh used to be a flirtateous, handsome man, therefore many schoolgirls loved him. Hearing he prepared to get married, a daughter of a jeweler killed herself by jumping into Hương river. It was said that she was expecting a child of mister Thanh.

After becoming Thanh’s wife, miss Ton Nu Huyen Thuy Ngoc Chau had only one name: sister Thanh or aunty Thanh. But the servants in the family usually called her “Lady”. Every morning, a maid served her a bowl of “bún bò” in her bedroom. “Bún bò” had to be ordered at a famous diner in front of Đông Ba market. Lady Châu liked Sen most. She said Sen’s face was nice, but Sen’s hands were big due to working very hard. She would let it pass if Sen didn’t get married until little Ớt was ten years old, and after that, Sen had to work for her family until she was old.

Rainy days in Huế were very sad. My dad and I had to work though. “Both of us walked in the moon garden side by side, singing a love song. Our love was as bright as the moonlight, we loved each other forever,” I raised my voice in the shop. Miss Sen slipped twelve thousand dongs that she stole of the bosses into my hand. I tried not to sob, finishing the song. “That love turned into smoke, our old happy days were gone. Our wishes became a dream, and the dream disappeared suddenly.” My dad’s leather bag was full of coins.

“Hey, Út, I tell you the truth. I’m pregnant.”

“Pregnant? Are you kidding?”, I opened my eyes.

“No, I’m not kidding. If you feel sorry for me, please let me live with mister Ba.”

What? This wasn’t a joke. The baby in her belly was my dad’s or someone’s? But my dad didn’t do anything. He just went back and forth in front of the coffee shop, sometimes he sat on a chair, drinking coffee, how could he make her pregnant? Miss Sen covered her face. My dad din’t know anything about Sen was pregnant, about Sen begged me to let her live with him. He was rather awkward whenever she came near him.

Rains were pouring down Huế city endlessly. At first, water was absorbed by dirt, then it pulled sand along the river to the sea. After that, it pulled everything – even a human life – to the sea. Water raised up, made the pine roots rotten. White lotuses floated on Tịnh Tâm lake. Tourists couldn’t enjoyed Huế songs on Hương river, they had to look at the endless rains, hearing my dad and me sing “A Nice Dream Of A Couple”, “An uncompleted Dream”, “Cylindrical Drums”…

At that time, Sen was arrested.


Little Ot, the only one child of Thanh & Châu, six years old, looked like an angel. She had the beauty of her parents, she was taken a loving care of therefore she was getting more beautiful. Sen told me little Ớt’s real name was Phạm Châu Hàn Giao. Little Hàn Giao followed Sen more than a baby gorilla following a mama gorilla.

One day, while Sen was bathing little Ớt, mister Thanh entered the restroom to check the soap and warm water. Sen’s hands were pink because of warm water. Her face was blush too. Mister Thanh dipped his hand into water, touching her big hand. Ignoring little Ớt, he caressed Sen’s hands. “Hurry up, then come to my room, do something for me,” he whispered. She knew sooner or later that matter would happen. She couldn’t resist it. Her heart beat and her hands trembled. Lady Châu asked Sen why she was trembling. Then lady Châu took her daughter out after telling Sen to take care of the boss.

It was getting dark. It seemed there were always no customers at that time. Employees of dayshift came home already. Employees of nightshift were busy working. Guessing the boss had finished his dinner, Sen went up stairs one by one. Up, up, up. The top floor of the building was the boss’ study room. No one was allowed to come here. Even lady Châu rarely stepped into this room.

Suddenly Sen stopped. She couldn’t continued stepping as if her heart was pressed very hard. His image was always in her heart, in her mind. It seemed she was charmed by him. It seemed she saw him while eating, she saw him while sleeping. She had resisted this situation for nearly one year. She had been jealous for nearly one year. But now it seemed the boss was charmed by her, why did she tremble?

Then Sen stepped faster, as if she wanted to take back what she needed. She forgot her big and ugly hands. She forgot she was just a servant. She forgot the only reason why she worked here. Her body was trembling like a snake began its sexual pleasure. There were no rains outside. The spring didn’t return. Yellow flowers were blossoming everywhere. Hương river was whispering an incitement.

The door opened suddenly. The yellow lights made the air in the room very sexy. Mister Thanh stood in the middle of the room in his underpants.


In the visiting room, Út Kim sat opposite a young woman. Sister Sen seemed emaciated, her dull and wet eyes looked at Út as if Út was a Savior.

“They should have let me die. Little Hàn Giao could have turned into maggots. Or magots could have eaten her heart until her parents went crazy. Maybe I would have been the same with the foetus, a child of Thanh, inside me. Hey, Út, what do you visit me for? I begged you let me live with mister Ba, why didn’t you let me? Lady Châu liked me to massage her because my hands were strong. And I could humor her crazy hobby. You know what she liked? She liked to sing karaoke in a dark room, so that she couldn’t see the man’s face whom I had paid money to. He had to be young, strong, good-smelling. When you sang the song “A Nice Dream Of A Couple”, I stole the lady’s money to give you. She knew but she pretended that she didn’t know, ‘cause she needed me. But she also liked that song, and she also wanted to have a nice dream of a couple. I don’t understand why. I didn’t have it so I stole it. And the lady had it but she didn’t care.

“I’m expecting a child of Phạm descent. The boss of Hàng Phượng coffee didn’t admit it. At first he wallowed in me like crazy. He said he was living a real life of a real man thanks to me. Lady Châu was as fragile as a glass, she didn’t know how to make sex. He always felt bored whenever he made sex with her. He said I had a beautiful body, as salty as the sea, as hard as a rock, as soft as water, as gliterring as phosphorus on Hương river’s face.

“Hearing I was pregnant, he opened his eyes, looking at me as if I were a snake. Giving me some money, he told me to go to a hospital, to abort the foetus. But until that time, he didn’t know who I am.

“You knew there was a daughter of a jewelry killed herself by jumping into Hương river when mister Thanh got marrried? She was my older sister. After she died, my mom was sick for a long time then died following her. My sister died with a foetus inside her. I hated the man in Hàng Phượng coffe shop, I tried to work for him so that I could be revenged on him.

“I couldn’t believe that my sister didn’t let me do my revenge, but she was inside me so that I would fall in love with the disloyal man.

“When he kicked me out, I wanted to cut his heart into thousand pieces. But how could I do that? My life was broken because of him. Lady Châu was a devil. She didn’t allow me to get married until little Hàn Giao was ten. But she didn’t know that no one or nothing could force me to do that. I stayed there ‘cause I wanted to revenge, I wanted to be beside him forever. If I had married mister Ba, if I had been fired, I would have come back to the coffee shop to sing with mister Ba and you. If I had married mister Ba, I would have kept the foetus – his child – inside me, therefore I kept begging you.

“Oh how pity little Hàn Giao was…

“I couldn’t believe that there was a faithful man like mister Ba in this world. He loved that dead woman, he didn’t love me. ‘Cause little Hàn Giao didn’t want to leave me, maybe I would bring her with me if I died. I wasn’t sorry for my own child, why I had to be sorry for their child. Maybe I could revenge by killing their own child.

“I went to a drugstore to buy some sleeping pills. That day it rained dogs and cats. Hàn Giao’s mom was singing in a dark room with a Northern man. Hàn Giao’s dad shouted at me, then he went to Thuận An sea with his new girlfriend. I bought a bottle of fresh milk which she used to drink everyday. I dropped twenty pills into my glass of milk, dropped five pills into hers.

“I was very stupid. I should have dropped ten pills into hers then I didn’t need to strangle her. When I did it, I whispered to her. Go with me. You’ll be nothing if you continue living in this life. Don’t blame me. Go with me and you will meet your brothers or your sisters. We will unite with everybody there. I put her warm body on their luxury bed, then I lay down next to her, holding her in my arms.

“But they came home early. They pulled me out of my dream, took me to the hospital.

“I guessed they would put me to death. Ok… it meant sooner or later. But they said I was pregnant so they would wait until I gave birth the baby. I beg you and mister Ba to bring the baby home, to raise him until he grows up. Don’t tell him I am his mom please. When you get married, he will go with mister Ba, sing with mister Ba…”



© Tác Giả Giữ Bản Quyền.