“Apa was in the army, & so was my husband. He chased after me a lot before I agreed to marry him. I left school & soon became a mother to his 4 kids. Moving around a lot due to his postings, & eventually settling in T/phu, our marriage started to fail. He had an affair.
After years of trying to make it work, I eventually gave up. I left T/phu to be with my aging parents in my village & helped with their work.
Despite the tranquility of a farm life, I suffered financially to support my two youngest kids’ schooling. During the divorce, I had sent them far away to study in a boarding school.
With a heavy heart, I left my parents’ house again.
In T/phu, I stayed in a small house & drowned myself in weaving. With all my efforts, my children’s education was getting by. Still, it wasn’t enough. Every year before school starts, I’d struggle with their shopping.

My best friend from years ago, had lost her husband. She was in a lot of debt & was struggling just like me. After meeting her, we found a vacant restaurant together. The space was very small but nicely located. We borrowed money from wherever possible & opened it. The first month was quite profitable & gave us hope of a better future. However, it all came crashing down when the pavement Infront of us was reconstructed. We were assured that they’d finish in 3 months.
During the course of that, dust & the noise repelled all our customers. Our earnings plummeted & we could hardly afford rent. We asked for help from our children, & continued working by telling each other that things will be back to normal. After more than 5 months, when the construction was completed, the place was not the same. We got scared to put the tables outside like how we did before. Hardly 4 people could fit inside our restaurant & when the pandemic started, we never picked up from the loss.

We wish we could put tables outside to seat more customers but I’m scared. People tell us that since our restaurant is made of planks, & other basic materials, authorities might ask to tear our place down if we go to them with this issue.

For now, hope is all we have.”

Serga Bangchung is a diner run by two women in their 50’s. It’s located above the City Bus parking in T/phu

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