A Father's Legacy: Tales of Exotic Lands He grew up on Long Island, but Shuja Sohrewardy's family ties extend to India and Pakistan. His father's homage to their ancestry included elaborate stories about exotic lands, often told in Urdu.
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A Father's Legacy: Tales of Exotic Lands

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A Father's Legacy: Tales of Exotic Lands

A Father's Legacy: Tales of Exotic Lands

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

And it's time for another moment from StoryCorps. StoryCorps is the oral history project that is traveling the country collecting your stories. On Fridays we play those stories here on MORNING EDITION.

Recently Lauren Macioce brought her friend, Shuja Sohrewardy to a StoryCorps booth as a birthday gift. It gave Sohrewardy the chance to talk about a family member who emigrated to the United States from Pakistan and spoke only Urdu in the house.

Ms. LAUREN MACIOCE: Who was the most important person in your life?

Mr. SHUJA SOHREWARDY: The most important person in my life is probably my father. He passed away about a year and two months ago.

Ms. MACIOCE: Say his name.

Mr. SOHREWARDY: Sayid Moeen Odeen(ph) Sohrewardy. That's my father.

Ms. MACIOCE: I didn't know your middle name was Roudat(ph).

Mr. SOHREWARDY: Yeah. That's my dad.

It's part of our culture that my dad would tell me a bedtime story. You know, I slept with him in the same bed because he had a queen-size bed, and my mom worked at night. I used to look forward to going to bed simply because my father would paint this elaborate, elaborate story in a faraway, distant land. The whole entire thing would be strictly in Urdu, always, always started off in that same way. (Urdu spoken) `I'm going to tell you this one story.' And then every single story always ended the same way, like it does in English, it's `happily ever after.' But with my dad, it was (Urdu spoken). `Story's finished.' (Urdu spoken) Even when he's gone. I just loved it.

And so, you know, when a story would go on, I'd ask in the middle of the story (Urdu spoken), you know. `Is it finished?' He'd go, `No, no. Not yet.' Then my mom would come home around midnight and they'd put me in my bed. That was routine for about two or three years.

INSKEEP: Shuja Sohrewardy and Lauren Macioce. StoryCorps mobile booths are now in Missoula, Montana, and in Chicago. And as always, StoryCorps is in New York City. To find out how you can record an interview, you can visit npr.org.

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