Ataround 6 p.m. Saturday, WangQisethisfeetonhishomelandagaininXi’an, capitalofnorthwestChina’sShaanxiProvince, afterspending 54 yearsinalifedriftinIndia.
“I’m finally home!” a sobbing Wang hugged his tearful brothers and sisters at Xi’an Xianyang International Airport.
Wang, aChinesesolider, gotlostinaforestontheChina-Indiaborderin 1963. HewasrescuedbyIndia’sRedCrossSocietyandlaterhandedovertoIndianmilitary. Themilitarysentencedhiminjailforsevenyearsafterregardinghimasan “espionage.”
WangsettledandmarriedinaruralareainIndiaafterservinghissentence, buthealwayswantedtogohome. Duringthepastyears, WangsentmanyletterstohisfamilymembersinXuezhainanVillageinShaanxi’sQianxianCounty, expressinghishomesicknessandthedesiretogoback.
TohelpWangreturnhome, theChineseembassyinIndiamadeeveryefforttogethimanexitpermit. In 2013, hereceivedaChinesepassportandfinancialsupportfromthegovernment, whichmadeitpossibleforhimtoreturn.
InWang’shomevillage, groupsofpeoplelinedoutsidethehouseofWang’syoungerbrotherWangShunonSaturday, whichhappenstobeChina’sLanternFestival, adaythattraditionallyrepresentsreunion.
“After all these years, he is finally coming back,” Wang Shun said as he prepared a quilt for Wang Qi. “We bought the furniture in this room many years ago.”
“He has not changed much, I can still recognize him,” said local villager Wang Ming. “All of us in the village have been waiting for his return, and we are just happy that he made it.”