A childhood of oppression and suffering

DO THI BAY: 210 Take 1. Clapstick. Interview with Do Thi Bay.
Could you describe your life as a child in a poor peasant family? What was it like? What did you eat? What happened to your mother and father?
Do Thi Bay:
During the repressive period of the past, I was from a poor and landless family. The landlords had usurped all our land. As a result, we became really miserable. We did not have rice to eat and clothes to wear. We had to eat banana roots, greens and grass.
Therefore, my mother was extremely weakened and died in childbirth. So I never got to know my mother. This was what people told me. In 1945, my father was also very hungry. We only had a very small thatched hut. We had to look for our next meal every day.
As a result, my father got ill. There was no gruel, no food and no medicine, and so he died eventually. My older brother, who is now in Chau Quy and is being entrusted with a fairly important job there, followed the revolution very early. As for me, because of poverty of my family and my realization that we had to endure a lot of suffering and hardship because of exploitation and oppression, I followed the revolution when I was still a young girl.

Years as a courier for the Viet Minh

Clapstick 211 Take 1
Can you describe your role as a courier for the Viet Minh in 1946?
Do Thi Bay:
Although the enemy put me under constant observation, I was nevertheless able to act as a courier, carrying letters, documents and books and pamphlets from one village to another. Sometimes I had to disguise myself as an excrement collector, as a person who irrigated the paddyfields and as a harrower, wearing tattered clothes, rolling my pants up and leading a cow or a buffalo along.
Secret messages had to be passed on by word of mouth. In that event, I had to use a code name and not my real name. Although the French had many military posts around the area and although these posts were full of white Frenchmen and black Frenchmen, our cadres always managed to get into the village and carried out their activities. This was because the village inhabitants protected them.
Sometimes, when the cadres could not come back into the village, we had to bring riceballs to tell in the fields. They were hiding in the tunnels or in the bushes. Besides transmitting messages of the Party and passing on books and pamphlets, I also working on those people who followed the French and killed their own compatriots to make them come back to the fold, to help defend the country.
Whenever our people got exposed, the French came by immediately and burnt down their houses, chopped off their heads and then hanged these heads up on bamboo stakes in the middle of the road and at intersections in order to intimidate the passers by. But we were unyielding, and we went ahead with our activities.
DO THI BAY: Roll 27 of Vietnam Project. 212 Take 1. Clapstick:
Could you describe the time the French African troops broke into your house and searched your house?
212. Take 2.
Could you describe the time the French African troops broke into the house and searched the house?
Do Thi Bay:
They sniffed us out that time. They suspected that I was a courier and that I brought our cadres back to the village to do political work. So they came and searched the house, prying up every little brick. They took the chickens and pigs belonging to my neighbors. I did not have any chicken or pig myself.
They searched everywhere and interrogated people. Mr. Du’s father, or my father in law, was taken to the post and severely roughed up. After that, they sent him home to make sweet rice and sweet soup for them.
I could not destroy the documents and the pamphlets in time, so I pushed them under the ash in the kitchen. Finally, when they could not find anything at all in spite of the careful search they kicked me several times on my behind and slapped me several times on the face and then left.
214, Take 1.