There is an old Vietnamese legend, who the author’s name is long lost in time. The story has been told with minor variations through the generations, and though I’m not Vietnamese, now I shall tell my version.
There was a small rural community, whose name really doesn’t matter there was a man of meager means, but with an impeccable reputation for honesty. His name was Ngoc Tam. In the center of the community was a shop for seeds, and farming tools. The owner of the store had two daughters, and Ngoc Tam fell in love with the older one, which was proper. The eldest daughter must be married before a younger daughter can take a husband. Her name was Nhan Diep.
She had seen the catalogs from the companies who sold her father tools, and the images of far away places that made her imagination spin wildly. Ngoc Tam told her father that although he was not a rich man, he gave his word that Nhan Diep would never need for food, shelther or love. Nhan’s father knew of Ngoc’s honesty and agreed to the wedding.
Nhan’s younger sister was in love and pleaded with her to take Ngoc as a husband so she could marry the man she loved. Nhan agreed to marry Ngoc, not so much for her sister, but because she so desperately wanted to go anywhere other than the village she grew up in and had spent her whole life in. So a simple ceremony took place and Nhan became Ngoc’s wife. They moved out to his small but simple farm.
Ngoc worked even harder than he used to, so that he could raise their station in life. He planted mullberry trees and worked the rice paddies, while his wife took care of the house and raised silk worms. Ngoc assumed Nhan was happy in her wifely duties, because she hid her desires for travel and riches from her husband who truly loved her.
One day Nhan Diep was taken by death unexpectedly. Ngoc Tam was so overtaken by sorrow that he would not leave her side and would not let them bury her. He sold everything he had and got a sampan. On the boat he put her coffin an sailed away. He knew not where he was going, or for how long he had been sailing, when he came upon an island with a fragrant green hill that perfumed the countryside. When Ngoc went ashore he found flowers and fruits of every imaginable type. Among all these plants and shrubs, he found a man with a long white beard and hair that matched. The old man’s eyes sparkled with knowledge and understanding.
Ngoc Tam had heard of a mystical being who traveled the heavens and earth on his island, and taught his science to the men of the Earth to alleviate their ills. Realizing that this must be the mystical being, Ngoc fell to his knees and bowed before the old man. The man spoke to him, saying, “I have learned of your virtues Ngoc Tam, and I have landed my island in your path that you might join my disciples and learn.”
Ngoc was honored, but so far in grief he could not imagine any life without Nhan Diep by his side. He thanked the old man again and again, but begged that if any art could bring his love back to life, that was what he desired. The mystical being looked at poor Ngoc with both kindness and pity and asked, “Why do you cling to this world of bitterness and gall? The rare joys of this short life are only a snare. You are foolish to entrust your destiny and happiness to a weak and inconstant being such as woman. I shall grant your wish, but I fear that you will regret it.”
Then the old man ordered him to open Nhan Diep’s coffin and he cut the tip of Ngoc’s finger and let three drops of blood fall on her lifeless body. She opened her eyes, and as one rising from a deep sleep rose slowly gaining her senses as she rose. As she became fully alert, the old man said, “Do not forget your obligations woman, or your husband’s devotion. May you both be happy.” Upon finishing the sentence, both the old man and the island vanished into a mist.
Ngoc Tam was overjoyed and anxious to return home, he rowed day and night. He had to stop at a port for provisions to keep his promise that Nhan should never want for food, and while he was gone a large ship came alongside the tiny sampan. The rich merchant on the ship was taken with Nhan Diep’s beauty and invited her aboard his fine ship. As soon as she had boarded, he gave the order to cast off, and sailed away with Nhan on board.
Ngoc sailed from port to port searching for her, but with no luck until a month later. When he finally caught up with her, she answered his questions without the least hesitation. She had grown accustomed to the finery and riches of the merchant and had no desire to go with Ngoc Tam. For the first time Ngoc saw Nhan Diep’s true nature. He felt ill as all of his love for her vanished, and he no longer desired her. He said, “I will set you free, but first you must return to me the three drops of blood that I gave to bring you back to life. I want to have no part of me in you any more.”
Glad to be free of Ngoc so cheaply, Nhan Diep cut the tip of her finger. As soon as three drops of blood had fallen, she fell to the ground dead.
Somehow instead of leaving this plane forever, she became a small insect. She was forever trying to steal three drops of blood that would return her to the human form. She tried one person and then another, but no one loved her, so an insect she remained. It became known as the mosquito, who will keep searching for blood until the end of time. Unfortunately for us, her race has multiplied many times over, but still only female mosquitoes bite.