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Doing Time With Nehru is my memoir told through the eyes of a thirteen year old girl living in India at the time of the 1962 India-China Border War. The memoir is basically divided into three parts. The first is my life in a boarding school in Darjeeling; the second part is life at home after I become a day student including events that unfold leading up to our internment; the third part is life in the internment camp and our release.
My father was sent to India in 1944 by his company home office in China to take over the branch in Calcutta. My mother and older sister joined him two years later. In 1949, when the Kuomintang government of China collapsed and was taken over by the Communist party, my parents decided not to return. They settled in India where my brother and I were born.
When the border war broke out, we were living happily in Darjeeling. Because it was located near the border, my family, along with hundreds of other ethnic Chinese, were suddenly arrested and sent to an internment camp. After our release, my family was not allowed to return to Darjeeling and we lost all our property. Eventually, we emigrated to the U.S. because life in India was becoming increasingly difficult for ethnic Chinese.
It was a traumatic time in my young life so I chose to put those memories away and go on with a new life. Now, fifty years later, I have become aware of the fact that this small chapter in Indian history is little known, not only to the outside world, but to native Indians as well. I now feel that I am not only to ready to tell my story, but indeed obligated, to share publicly those memories of 1962.
As I wrote this book, I felt it was important that I not emphasize those events in negative terms. Rather, I wanted to shed light on the unfortunate and sad consequences of government policies, which were more viscerally motivated than reasonably thought out. When actions are hastily taken based on ethnic, racial, and religious divisions, they inevitably have adverse impacts on families and communities, and indeed on the national psyche.
My hope is that this memoir will encourage other internees to come forth and tell their stories, and eventually lead the government of India to acknowledge the wrong it had inflicted upon Chinese Indians and issue an official apology.