Bittersweet road home

Mr Meng breaking into a rare smile while taking a wefie with manager Jeffrey Chua (holding camera) and volunteers Zhang Xihong (left) and Wang Qingguo at Changi Airport Terminal 2 Mr Meng being helped by a stewardess into his wheelchair upon arrival
Mr Meng Xiangbo leaving Ang Mo Kio-Thye Hua Kwan Hospital for the airport with the help of volunteers from HealthServe on March 25. He snaps at one for being rough with the wheelchair..
Mr Meng breaking into a rare smile while taking a wefie with manager Jeffrey Chua (holding camera) and volunteers Zhang Xihong (left) and Wang Qingguo at Changi Airport Terminal 2 Mr Meng being helped by a stewardess into his wheelchair upon arrival
Mr Meng breaking into a rare smile while taking a wefie with manager Jeffrey Chua (holding camera) and volunteers Zhang Xihong (left) and Wang Qingguo at Changi Airport Terminal 2..
Mr Meng breaking into a rare smile while taking a wefie with manager Jeffrey Chua (holding camera) and volunteers Zhang Xihong (left) and Wang Qingguo at Changi Airport Terminal 2 Mr Meng being helped by a stewardess into his wheelchair upon arrival
Mr Meng being helped by a stewardess into his wheelchair upon arrival in Qingdao on March 26. It is a four-hour drive to reach Mr Meng's village in Ganyu district, Jiangsu province, from the airport..
Mr Meng breaking into a rare smile while taking a wefie with manager Jeffrey Chua (holding camera) and volunteers Zhang Xihong (left) and Wang Qingguo at Changi Airport Terminal 2 Mr Meng being helped by a stewardess into his wheelchair upon arrival
Mr Meng being pushed along by his younger brother Meng Fanjin, 37, upon arrival in Qingdao. Also at the airport to receive him are his cousin Meng Ning, 34, and his wife Yuan Jie, 43..

The journey home for Mr Meng Xiangbo is filled with mixed emotions. He has been longing to meet his family whom he has not seen in a year. The last six months were spent in hospital with only volunteer workers, nurses and doctors for company.

Yet, his injury makes travelling difficult and Mr Meng is alternately impatient and apologetic.

He snaps at one of the volunteers for being too rough while loading his wheelchair into a taxi and later apologises to an air stewardess for the inconvenience of his urine bag.

When he finally touches down in China, the reunion with his family is undramatic and Mr Meng is overcome by exhaustion.

REGRET

I am home, but I feel lost... I regret going to Singapore. If I hadn't gone, I would not have been injured.

MR MENG XIANGBO

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 30, 2017, with the headline 'Bittersweet road home'. Print Edition | Subscribe