Divided Histories: How can we look at all sides of a story?

Our last session at DPS, moderated by Kabir David, was themed around the question of our divided histories. It was inspired by the work of Chintan Girish Modi from Friendships across Borders, Kirthi Jayakumar’s The Red Elephant Foundation, and The History Project.

The History Project researches history textbooks, and places narratives of a trans-national, shared history side by side, to highlight the commonality of our past, and the contrast in its perception. We introduce questions to highlight embedded biases and activities geared towards understanding competing perspectives. Lastly, we supplement our materials with illustrations to make it more engaging for our readership.”

The History Project – Promo from Qasim Aslam on Vimeo.

Following this session, one student writer Vishwambhar Anand penned down this story, capturing poignantly the essence of divided histories:

There were two friends, Vikram and Aziz, who studied in the same school and lived in the same apartment. Every day after school, they walked home together. One day something happened on their way home from school, and the boys recount the tale to their respective parents.

Vikram tells his parents this: “On my home from school, I saw a brave man who fought off a crazy dog. If it had been me, I would have run away, but this man picked up a stick and fought back, till the rabid dog ran away. The dog must have learnt not to attack humans anymore thanks to that man.”

That must indeed have been a brave man, but let us look at what Aziz has to say to his parents.

“While walking back home, I saw a cruel man beating up a poor dog with a big stick. I wanted to stop him but he was very big and so I just walked away. I am going to exercise and become big and strong so that I can stop people like him from being so cruel.”

So, you have heard two people talking about the same incident, which one of them is telling the truth?

It’s a tricky question, the answer is – both of them. Vikram told his parents what he thought about what was happening and Aziz told his parents about his views. What actually happened we may never know.

But, now Aziz’s parents believe in the cruel man who beats animals and Vikram’s parents believe in the brave man who fought of the rabid beast, just because this is what they have heard.

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