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Remembering my Sister-in-law Tan Yun-Shan 


 Chen Laisheng

My nephew, Tan Chung, wrote from India asking me to write for the commemorative volume of his father. I am on the wrong side of 90, and troubled by bad health. There is an overall deteriortion in energy and strength, in eye-sight and audition. Fortunately, my mind is alert. It is good to remember the birth centenary of Tan Yun-shan, and we must warmly celebrate, complimenting his life and career.

                Tan Yun-shan was an orphan, he began studing under the tuition of village teachers. When he grew olderhe eagerly looked for opportunities to develop his intellectual faculties. Success never denied one who was so determined. He got admission in the First Normal School. In that school, he worked very hard in studies. He had immense thinking power, had a knack in writing both prosead  verse, was one of the best in his class.

                He had great ambitions since young. After completing his studies he sailed abroad ad reached Singapore. Through the introduction of a fellow-Hunanese who worked in the zhongnan School he stated teaching in the Mapo Middle School. After 2-3 years, he married my sister, Chen Naiwei who also hailed from Hunan, and had arrived in Singapore to teach. After their marriage, a boy arrived, and was christened “Fruit of Love”. I was in Singapore, too , staying with my sister and the baby.

                After marrying my sister, he was addressed by me as “Brother Yun”. He put his heart in teaching, was fond of reading , dilegant in Practising the Mandarin accent, in learning English, started creative writing, published his poems and essays. In 1927, the famous Indian poet, Rabindranath Tagore, visited Singapore, and invited Tan to go to India. At that time my sister and I had just jioned the Aiqun Girls’ School at Madubahar in Johore. But we supported his plans to go to India.

                After going to India, Tan Yun-shan helped Tagore to establish the Sino-India Cultural Society and Cheena-Bhavana in Visva-Bharati, and started dedicating to the cultural interaction between China and India. His Contributions has become an immortal chapter of Sino-Indian friendship.

                China’s victory over Japan in the War brought Brother Yun and my sister back to the country. When he saw the poor childern nearby the residence at Changsha, he didn’t want the sad condition to last. He consulted my sister and me, and decided to establish the Datong School. At the inception there was the regular course and service course for Kids. The women’s department was added later.  The regular course charged tuition fees according to government regulations. The service courses for Kids and women were free. In this way the Datong School has made a contribution to the education of the motherland.

                Both Brother Yun and my sister complete their lives in the contry of the Buddha. I always longed for them. Now that the motherland is propering , also there is increasing improvement in Sino-Indian relation. These are happy developments which can make them smile in Heaven.


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© 1999 Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, New Delhi

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