Thousands of Chinese villagers from across Shaanxi province gathered this past weekend to welcome the Chinese army veteran Wang Qi to his home village of Xiaozhainan, as he returned to his old home after 54 years in India.
Wang, 77, made his long-awaited return to his village on Sunday where he visited his old family home, where his older brother now resides. He had spent the past few days, since his February 10 return to China, in the company of his relatives and recuperating in the nearby town of Xianyang, near the provincial capital Shaanxi, where he was recovering after the exhaustions of his travel.
“It meant a lot for my father to finally return home,” said his son Vishnu Wang, who accompanied Wang Qi to China. “There were more than a thousand people waiting to see him, and the whole village is celebrating.”
Xiaozhainan is a dusty small village of corn fields that lies two hours from Xian, sitting at the end of a narrow and muddy road through barren apple orchards.
The village has waited 54 years for the return of its most famous son, who as a young PLA soldier had crossed the border into India in 1963, and then detained. Released from prison in 1969, he was sent to Tirodi village in Madhya Pradesh, where he settled and married a local girl Sushila and raised his Indian family.
His return has made front-page news in China these past few weeks – a feel-good story during the Lunar New Year and a propaganda coup for the government to showcase how it had brought back one of its lost citizens, even if five decades too late.
Wang’s family is undecided on their future. Wang, delighted to be reunited with his long-lost brothers and sister having last been in their company as a teenager, wants to spend the rest of his days in China. His son Vishnu, who is in China along with his wife and young son on a two-year visa, says the family isn’t yet sure whether they will all settle in China. Vishnu’s mother and sister and still in India.