It was September 16, 1950, Hanoi Vietnam. Pham Chien Lahn was busy, extremely busy in fact. Injured soldier after injured soldier were being brought in to his medical tent. The French Indochina war had been going on since 1946 and today it had been especially bloody. By his count he had no less than 50 men needing urgent medical care had been carried in. This was not surprising to Lahn, as the French troops were well trained and even better equipped. Even though Lahn was relieved that he had enough medical supplies for every soldier, he was extremely concerned that he did not have enough medics to effectively treat every patient being carted in. Lahn was forced to prioritize, and thusly concentrated on the men that most urgently required treatment first and hoped for the best for the others.
It was near midnight by the time he had operated, bandaged, stitched and sedated every soldier that had been transported in today. Dr. Lahn was exhausted, as he took a moment to scan over the tent. He had sent most of his staff home so that they could rest. They would be needed in the morning to treat and monitor the recovering patients. Satisfied that the worst was over for tonight, he exited the medical tent. After enduring a 16 hour shift, he began heading to his home for some desperately needed rest. “You didn’t lose single one I heard.” Lahn turned around to see his older brother Van standing behind him.
“No, I managed to save them all,” Lahn replied. Van could tell that Lahn was utterly exhausted.
“Father would have been so proud of you. I know he is watching over us with a big smile on his face.”
“I hope so big brother, I really can’t take much more of this.” Exhaustion overtook Lahn and he stumbled as he walked over to his brother. Van caught him before he hit the ground. Where Lahn was small and wiry, Van was tall and muscular. You would scarcely believe the pair were brothers at all, until you noticed the resemblance in their faces.
“Let me carry you home little brother.” Van picked up Lahn and began carrying him like a child in his arms.
“No, I can walk,” Lahn protested, but soon fell asleep. Van carried his brother all the way to their family home.
After a short walk Van reached their home and was met by his wife Hien. “He is going to work himself to death.” Her soft gentle face was a visage of concern.
“I will encourage him to take it easier,” Van replied. “He is the most gifted doctor for 200 miles, and he is desperately needed.” Van entered the house and began heading to Lahn’s room.
“We need to find him a wife of his own,” Hien added with unmasked urgency in her voice. “He is almost 31 years old.” Van let out a small sigh, he knew she meant well. He and Hien had been married for ten years and had two children already, but because of the war and his work, Lahn had not had made time to meet anyone. Van also knew right away what she was again hinting at, and even though she was right, it was not the best time to make marriage arrangements.
“I don’t think bringing in a matchmaker to find him a wife will be to his liking. He has only ever loved one woman.” Van opened the door to his younger brother’s room and laid him into his bed.
“Have you even asked him?” Hien waited for an answer from her husband. She suspected what the answer would be. Van again sighed and turned around. He met his wife’s powerful gaze and immediately felt small.
“No, I have not mentioned it to him,” Van confessed.
“If you love him, you will do this for him,” Hien gently place a hand on Van’s cheek. “I know he loved her, but she died, he needs to move on.”
“I know, I will ask him tomorrow, I promise.” Van placed his large hand over hers on his face.
“I am willing to give it a try,” Lahn uttered quietly with his eyes still closed. Van and Hien were surprised that Lahn had been awake through their conversation.
“Are you sure?” Van turned and walked back over to Lahn’s bed.
“I know of a good matchmaker,” Hien smiled. She truly loved her brother in law, and wanted the best for him.
“You are right big sister, I need a wife,” Lahn turned and wrapped a blanket over himself. “If today taught me anything, it is that life is too short, I need to live it before it is over.” Van and Hien exited his room without another word, and Lahn drifted into a deep sleep.