(NEWSER) – In 1963, a 23-year-old surveyor for the Chinese Peoples Liberation Army accidentally crossed the border into India. He remained stuck there for 54 years, only making it back to his homeland only last week, reports the BBC.
The strange tale of Wang Qi starts with a nighttime stroll away from camp. He told the BBC in an interview that he got lost and was "tired and hungry."
He found a Red Cross vehicle and asked for help, only to be turned over to the Indian army. After nearly seven years in various jails, authorities relocated Wang to a remote village, the Hindustan Times reports. He was not allowed to return to China, however, but nor was he given Indian citizenship. He lived in a kind of limbo.
"I cried in the night," Wang says of those first years in India. "I missed my mother."
He eventually married, worked at a flour mill, and had children and grandchildren, but he never stopped hoping to return home.
A spokesperson for the Chinese government blames Indian bureaucracy for preventing Wang's return over the past half-century. But after being visited by a delegation from the Chinese embassy in recent weeks, visas were procured for Wang and his relatives.
His wife was too sick to travel, but Wang arrived in Beijing on Friday with his adult children, where they were met by his surviving relatives.
This is only a visit, however. "My family is (in India)," he says. "Where would I go?"