The people of Vietnam suffered through war from 1955-1975, but for one man, the war took much longer to end. Ho Van Thanh was a soldier for more than 15 years. One terrible day, a mine exploded and killed his wife and two of his sons, and completely destroyed his home.
In a panic, Thanh grabbed his two-year-old son, Ho Van Lang, and fled deep into the jungle where he planned to live until the war ended. Just two years later, the war did end, but Ho and his son had no way of hearing the news. The two of them ended up living in the jungle for more than forty years, believing that the war was still raging on.
Thanh entered the jungle when he was just 42, and his son was two. By the time they were found, he was an 82-year-old man and his son was middle-aged.
Local people searching for wood deep in the forest found Thanh and his son living in a tree house twenty feet in the air. Thanh, who had been a well-known blacksmith in his village, had made several arrows and other hunting tools. When they were found, they were wearing loincloths made of tree bark. They survived by hunting, growing forest vegetables, and planting corn.
Even though neither of the men remembered much of the local language, they kept a few mementos of their old lives in their treehouse. The father’s military pants were neatly folded and beside them sat the little red coat his son was wearing when they fled.
Because Thanh was in poor health, he was carried out of the jungle on a stretcher with his son Lang at his side. Their arrival shocked the townspeople because many thought they had died years ago.
Once they were in the town, Thanh and Lang suffered from reverse culture shock. Thanh refused to eat, and both men tried to escape back into the jungle. Relatives tried to keep them in town, because they were worried about Thanh’s health. “We know he wants to escape my house to go back to the forest, so we have to keep an eye on himnow,” says his nephew.
Fast forward a year-and-a-half to 2015, and Lang is adjusting. Having lived alone for so long with a father who rarely talked, he still has trouble communicating. But modern comforts and vices such as TV, cell phones and cigarettes have won him over. His father on the other hand still wants to return to the forest.
from Deep English » Blog http://deepenglish.com/2016/01/waiting-for-the-war-to-end/