Peng Qinglan’s Road Home ( Part 4 )

WRIC’s Yao Cheng                    All photos by WRIC                December 1, 2010


At 8:30pm, November 24, the crowd stood along both sides of Liuzhi Tequ Street. Among them were local residents and the Peng family and their friends who came from thirty kilometers away. As soon as our small convoy drove into the street, throngs of people surrounded our vehicles to catch a glimpse of the woman who disappeared for twenty two years. Peng Qinglan, who had been talking with us lightheartedly a minute ago, broke into tears as she stepped out of the car. Peng cried in the embrace of her mother and sister. Twenty two years of heartbreak came out at that moment.



妈爸爸 姐

 Peng Qinglan’s father,mother and  a sister.


Mr. Chen Fuyu and I received from the Peng family flowers and pennants thanking our service. After a brief interview with the media, our cars drove straight to their home village of Xiaping. Three miles away from the village, we heard the sound of firecrackers going off in celebration. Fireworks lit up the night sky and painted colors on the dark mountainsides.


Child hood memories came rushing back to Peng Qinglan. The river and the elementary school were still there. The old mud brick family home was not, replaced by a three-room brick house. Friends and classmates of the pass had all turned to middle age.


The most awkward reminder was the difficulty in language. She could not speak a sentence of the local dialect. Any conversation between the blood relative  had to go through a translator.


Peng’s husband, a brother and a cousin from the Wu family also made the same trip. The atmosphere was amicable, other then a briefly uncomfortable exchange between Peng’s sister and the Wu brother. “Your family had seven siblings, why kidnap our sister?” Others laughed, but the brother was downcast. “We didn’t kidnap her. We only paid so she would be with us. Now that we are all one family, let’s not talk anymore about this.”


It was a raucous party for the whole village till dawn. Peng’s family would not allow us to travel through the hills by night so we stayed. But the noise didn’t allow us much sleep anyhow. When I woke up, Peng’s family volunteered to lead me to see the fields, school and the river, which I had only known as topographical features on a computer map when we were searching for the family.


After breakfast, we prepared to leave the village. All the Peng family came out to say farewell, plus many others from the village. An elderly woman waited by the village gate the longest. She was the mother of Peng Simei, the girl who was kidnapped with Peng Qinglan twenty two years ago. We waved at her so she could leave lest she catch the chilly mountain air in the morning. The night before, I had explained to her again and again that it was much harder for parents to look for children than for kidnapped children who reached adulthood to search back for their parents. We would look for information of Peng Simei from all sides. She was lost at the same age of eight or nine with Peng Qinglan. We could believe that she remembered her village and family as well.


WRIC’s Yao Cheng was holding Pengqing Lan’s family gave honor flags. Photography by WRIC