The New Guard Archiving Partition Stories

With the Partition generation disappearing, emerging projects have been in a race against time to cover the gap.

Aanchal-interviews-Uma-Sondhi-Ahmed featured
Aanchal Malhotra interviews Uma Sondhi Ahmed. (Courtesy Aanchal Malhotra)

Reshmi Chakraborty


August 13, 2020

When Ishar Das Arora, 80, remembers the night that changed everything, he remembers the dread in the air. Arora was 7 during the Partition of India and Pakistan in 1947. “My mother sneaked us into a dark and scary room at the back of the house as the riot raged outside, put me inside a basket, and locked the room from outside. Our lambardar’s [landowner] son guarded us saying, ‘No one can touch you till I’m alive.’ He was Muslim.” Arora’s grandson, Sparsh Ahuja, 22, captured his memories through Project Dastaan, a virtual reality project reconnecting Partition refugees from India and Pakistan to their childhood homes and communities.

His grandfather’s stories were a revelation for Ahuja, who lives and works in London. “It was saddening to hear how his childhood had been uprooted in just the space of a few days.” Ahuja became curious about the “other side” and co-founded Project Dastaan with his friends from Oxford University, Sam Dalrymple, and Saadia Gardezi. “My grandfather always says, ‘I want to see my home again,’” said Ahuja, echoing a common yearning. Project Dastaan aims to connect Partition survivors to their roots — through virtual reality experiences, video stories, and an animated film.

Join today to read the full story.
Already a subscriber? Log in