Twin's wordless protest comes to an end
"Das doppelte Lottchen" is the title of a German novel for children that goes by the title of "Lottie and Lisa" in English.
In the Japanese edition, translated by Kenji Takahashi and titled "Futari no Lotte" published by Iwanami Shoten, Publishers, there is a passage that goes to the effect: "What encompassed the whole sky for each of the two girls until now was actually only a half of their combined world."
They are twins. Their parents divorced and each keep one of the girls. But they meet accidentally, realize they are sisters, and try to reunite their parents.
There are some racial differences, but the chances of a woman giving birth to twins are said to be one in a hundred. Though born together, twins live their adult lives bit by bit independently of each other and end their lives separately.
In the case of Lottie and Lisa, their once-separated lives converge when they are 9 years old. But for Nguyen Duc and his older brother Nguyen Viet, who were born conjoined, physical separation came when they were 7. The brothers were surgically separated in 1988.
Viet died Saturday. After suffering brain damage, he was bedridden throughout his 26-year life.
Duc is missing his left leg, but gets around with the aid of a crutch. He works at a hospital, and was married in December last year. At his brother's funeral on Sunday, he said he was resolved to keep living his life to the full, noting that his own life is a "gift" from his brother.
During the Vietnam War, U.S. military aircraft released massive amounts of Agent Orange, a defoliant containing deadly dioxin. This was in order to flush out Viet Cong guerrillas from their hiding places in the jungles, as well as to destroy food sources.
The dioxin still lingers in the land, affecting even yet-to-be-born children in Vietnam. During his life, Viet was a living witness to the inhumanity of Agent Orange.
The brothers shared their bodies and pain while they remained joined, but life could not be dealt to them equally once they were surgically separated. While Duc traveled around the world to speak out against the inhumanity of the defoliant, Viet lay in bed in wordless protest of the same scourge.
All Viet could do was to stay alive and keep reminding the world, with his own physical existence, of the atrocity.
It was a heavy mission only Viet could carry out, and he did it superbly until the end.
--The Asahi Shimbun, Oct. 8(IHT/Asahi: October 9,2007)