Contributed by Omar H. Ali, 46, Historian
Oral history—one of the oldest humanities.
My Abu (‘father’ in Urdu) is my favorite storyteller ... I grew up with stories of his childhood in India and later in his life: he and his best friend, Shafi, climbing neem trees in Puna; them trying to get back at a bully, but having their elaborate plan—with one of them crouching behind the bully while the other pushed him over—completely backfire (getting beat-up for a second time!); them tapping people’s heads from atop a wall as the clueless souls walked by not knowing what just happened; traveling by boat from India to Zanzibar, where my uncle was stationed on the hill opposite from the Sultan’s palace; stories of my grandfather, a famous detective who headed up the investigation of the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi; my father coming to ‘America’ in 1959 as a Fulbright scholar to study engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology and witnessing the burgeoning Civil Rights movement ... These were the stories that shaped me, my worldview, and piqued my interest in studying history ... And I haven’t even gotten into my mother’s stories of growing up in Peru! (N.B.: ‘Afsanas’ are short stories in Urdu.)
Over the course of our lifetimes
Omar H. Ali, 46, Historian