by Ngo Khac Tai Miss Hien was as simple as she had always been – wearing neither make-up nor fashionable clothes. However, to Du she had changed somehow, but he couldn’t explain exactly how. For a long time she lived alone with a series of family alters in a sprawling old brick house. An old orchard surrounded the house, but it had been left untended for years and offered more dry twigs than fruit. Only two of the plum trees were regularly laden with ripe fruit which fell abundantly to the courtyard floor. Her stagnant pond was covered with plants that she used to feed the ducks she raised purely for pleasure, not money. Numerous times she had asked him to jump over the hibiscus hedge that separated their two compounds to catch a duck for their dinner. Then she cooked a few dishes for them to enjoy together because she hated to eat alone. As the city continued its expansion into the surrounding paddy fields, a lot of farmers earned great riches thanks to the compensation they received to vacate their land. While most of the plots of land near planned roads became more expensive, her multi-thousand square metre…
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