GUWAHATI, March 13 - Separated by the Indo-China war of 1962 at the age of six, Leong Lingi alias Pramila Das, a woman of Chinese origin living in Makum, today left for China to meet her ageing parents.
Lingi, like many other Assamese Chinese who got separated due to the war, is a descendant of Chinese people. They were brought to Assam by the British, and eventually settled here. The third and fourth generations of the community faced immense problems during the war, where many families were separated due to the hostile environment.
The plight of the community has been depicted in the Sahitya Akademi award-winning author Rita Choudhury�s novel Makam. Choudhury is also instrumental in the coming reunion of Lingi with her father Leong Kak Hoi, mother Sanu Leong and the seven siblings.
�Lingi�s mother was from the Lusai tribe of Assam. The day Lingi�s parents were detained and deported to China, she was at her grandmother�s place, and thus was left behind. It�s been long 53 years since the six-year-old saw her parents. Our effort is to reunite the family as her parents are still alive and waiting to see her,� said Choudhury addressing the media here ahead of Lingi�s trip to China.
Amid the prolonged separation, a letter posted by her parents in Assamese proved to be the ray of hope for her and later with the support of other people of the Assamese Chinese community, they could be located.
Lingi, along with her husband Simon Das, her son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren would go to Hong Kong before going to meet her parents in Laibin, China. �I desperately wanted to meet my parents, especially after I got the letter from them, which was written in Assamese. It�s a mixed feeling of joy and sorrow. They have asked me to bring stuff like til pitha, bundiya-bhujiya, gamosa, shorai, etc.,� said Lingi.
�There are several other such families, waiting to meet their parents. But, with my limited resources and help from the people, I could arrange for her trip only. She would be assisted by Tungchin Tham, another Assamese Chinese, during the trip,� said an emotional Rita Choudhury. She hoped the government would take a proactive initiative in this regard.
�Fears and inhibitions still exist among the Chinese who stayed in Assam as well as those who went to China, due to the prolonged separation. The language problem adds to their misery,� she said. �Since many of those who left Assam are either dead or very old now, we don�t have much time to initiate the process. Timely action in this regard would definitely heal many wounds,� she added.