Staring at the Chinese wall calendar hanging next to a threadbare tapestry, Lan understood, even accepted, that 2002 would be the last year of Võ Chấn’s life. She held her brother’s pain as if she, too, were dying.
Lan walked to the window and opened the shutters to draw in the afternoon sun. From the second floor of their home on Sài Gòn’s Bùi Viện Street, she looked upon an atmosphere as clogged as her brother’s mucus-filled lungs. Low-hanging clouds trapped the busses’ foul diesel smell. Bicycle bells and lambretta horns and the whiney, high-pitched, two-cycle engine squeals invaded the Võ family home like hysterical parrots.