Chinese sisters reunite after 79-year war separation

Que Bamei (right) reunited with her long lost half-sister Que Qijie after 79 years.
Que Bamei (right) reunited with her long lost half-sister Que Qijie after 79 years.PHOTO: XINHUA

NANNING (XINHUA) - Bursting into tears, Que Bamei tightly held her older sister, with whom she had lost contact 79 years ago amid the turmoil of the Japanese invasion.

Que, 87, was born into a large family in Qinzhou city in south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

When the Japanese invaded the city in 1939, eight-year-old Que was separated from her eight siblings and followed other family members to flee to neighbouring Guangdong province.

She was adopted by a family in Zhanjiang in Guangdong, and has never returned to her home town or met any relatives since.

Decades later, Que's memories of her home town faded to a few blurred pictures - "a big courtyard with a pool in front, beside the pool is the grave of grandpa", she recounted.

However, the desire to revisit her home town and see old relatives remains in her heart, growing even stronger as time passes.

In February, Que underwent surgery for gallstone and talked often about going back to her home town.

Her 33-year-old grandson Huang Guangpeng decided to help her fulfil her wish.

 

He used online charity platform Baobei Huijia (Baby returns home), which is dedicated to helping people reunite with their long-lost relatives.

With limited information from Que, volunteers on the platform found it difficult even trying to locate her village.

Que, illiterate, was unsure about the character for her family name and initially gave it as "Ji", but the volunteers were told there was no one with that surname in the area.

After searching for a while, the volunteers found a household with the family name "Que", which bears a similar pronunciation to "Ji" according to local dialect.

The volunteers investigated further and confirmed that Que was born in Dashigu village in Shabu town of Qinnan district. Her father Que Mingguang, an officer, died in battle for China and her five brothers were lost in the war.

Her three sisters married in Qinzhou, and two of them had died. But her half-sister Que Qijie is still alive.

Before meeting in person, the sisters spoke over video chat; amid tears they promised to meet as soon as possible.

On March 29, accompanied by her children, Que Bamei arrived in Dashigu village after a four-hour ride from home.

Though the bamboo wood, orchard and old houses have changed much, childhood memories came flooding back, and Que Bamei's eyes turned red with tears.

Anxious to reunite with her younger sister, Que Qijie had been waiting in front of her house long before Que Bamei's arrival.

When Que Bamei arrived, neighbours set off firecrackers to welcome her. The two sisters held each other and cried for a long time without uttering a word.

"Finally I get to see you again," Que Bamei murmured in an unfamiliar Qinzhou dialect.

They stayed together that day and talked late into the night.

"Thanks to the convenience offered by the Internet and the efforts of volunteers, my grandma and her sister now have less regret in their life," said Huang Guangpeng.

Huang said his grandma used to be a quiet person, but has become chattier after the reunion, telling everyone about her childhood stories and family history which she had learned from Que Qijie.

The two sisters plan to meet again soon.