“Tam and Cam” (Vietnam)

I read the story of “Tam and Cam”, a Cinderella story taking place in Vietnam. Over the years, I’ve read a few versions of Cinderella stories, and all of them usually contain a plot with a happy ending and no violence involved. However, “Tam and Cam” is very different from other versions. In this story, the Cinderella character, Tam, experiences many violent and gruesome obstacles in her quest to achieve a better future. A common Cinderella tradition that is followed in this story is how Tam meets her husband at the festival, where she loses one of her shoes. An interesting thing about this story is that the Cinderella character is killed multiple times by the step-mother and step-sister. This never happens to the Cinderella character in other stories.

First, the step-mother asks Tam to climb a tree and collect the best nuts to prepare an offering on her father’s death anniversary. During, the climb, the step-mother chops the tree and Tam falls into a deep pond and drowns. However, as this story focuses strongly on reincarnation, Tam is reborn as a nightingale bird and flies off to her husband’s castle. At the castle, Tam’s step-sister, Cam who is now the wife of the king, discovers that Tam is still alive in a bird form. Eventually, Tam is killed again, and her feathers allow her to be reincarnated into a tree. Afterwards, Tam is reincarnated into a fruit, which is given to an old lady who keeps and cares for the fruit. This fruit eventually reincarnates Tam back into human form.

The most gruesome part of this story happens when Cam was surprised by Tam’s beauty and wanted to learn how to become beautiful like her. Tam saw this as a perfect way to finally get revenge and told Cam to get in a hole, which she filled up with boiling water. Eventually, Tam made a sauce out of Cam’s body and sent it to her step-mother, who ended up eating it till she found a skull in the bottom and died from the shock.


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