Life before the India-China Border War of 1962, events that led up to it, and life with my family at an internment camp.
Authored by Ms Yin Marsh
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 am 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.
The midnight knock on the door and the disappearance of a loved one into the hands of authorities is a 20th-century horror story familiar to many destined to “live in interesting times.” Yet, some stories remain untold. Such is the account of the internment of ethnic Chinese who had settled for many years in northern India. When the Sino-Indian Border War of 1962 broke out, over 2,000 Chinese-Indians were rounded up, placed in local jails, then transported over a thousand miles away to the Deoli internment camp in the Rajasthan Desert.
Born in Calcutta, India in 1949, and raised in Darjeeling, Yin Marsh was only 13 when, first her father was arrested, and then Yin, her aged grand-mother, and eight-year-old brother were all taken to the Darjeeling jail, then sent on to Deoli. Ironically, Prime Minister Nehru, who authorized the mass arrests, had once “done time” in Deoli during the India’s rebellion against British rule. Yin and her family were assigned to the very same bungalow where Nehru had also been imprisoned.
Eventually released, Marsh emigrated to America with her mother and brother, attended college, married and raised her own family, even as the emotional trauma remained buried. When her own college-age daughter began to ask questions and when a friend’s wedding would require a return to her homeland, Yin was finally ready to face what had happened to her family.
About the author:
Yin Marsh received a Bachelor’s of Arts in East Asian Studies with a minor in Mandarin Chinese from American University in Washington, D.C. in 1971. She taught conversational English to Korean and Chinese post-doctorate visiting scholars at the University of California at Berkeley. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, a retired foreign service officer. They raised a son and daughter who also reside in California and continue the family globetrotting tradition.
Doing time with Nehru is available through the following link: https://www.createspace.com/4020188 and on Amazon.com