Don’t Wither Away
For most of my existence, I have been fighting with my parents to achieve freedom for myself: the priceless space that offers me the right to make my own decisions in any circumstances, to freely follow my dreams, and to live as a young man with countless ambitions independently.
Asian parents are well-known for being invariably overprotective of their children, which triggered my curiosity about what it is like to be a child raised by non-Asian parents. Is it necessarily true that Western parents are more liberal as they seemingly give the decisions and feelings of their children more consideration?
Back in April 2017, when I had a conversation with a Canadian friend and his mother, I asked a question that had always been deeply hidden in my memory related to my curiosity of the Parent-Child relationship in Western society: “Would you move to an Elderly Care Center or live with your son when you are old?” She held her son’s hand and said: “Of course I would live with my son. Therefore M, please don’t leave me alone when I’m old, honey.” I felt shocked and, at the same time, immensely emotional by her answer. It fractured my bright imaginary perception of aging in Western countries.
This series of images was taken in a nursing home in Hanoi throughout April 2021. I talked to the elders here, listened to them, sympathized with them, witnessed different emotional nuances from numerous stories. My approach illustrates the imaginary fear of loneliness at old age, the feeling of pointlessness and emptiness. The definition of time becomes vague. Life turning upside down in a loop of boredom as there are no more objectives and expectations.
Text and Photos by Vinh Tran