Once There Was Me: The Extraordinary Life of an Unknown Indian by Bobby Sachdeva
Publisher: Pan Macmillan India
Price: Rs. 450 INR(Paperback), Rs. 250 INR(Kindle Edition)
Buy here: https://amzn.to/3g7XQcx
My take on the book:
Once There Was Me is part memoir, part fiction account of the life of the author Bobby Sachdeva; as also the second part of the title suggests — the extraordinary life of an unknown Indian — by the end of the book the reader will realize this can be the story of just any other Indian.
The book starts with the author recounting the horrific events from the year 1984 when riots broke out following the assassination of the then Prime Minister of India Mrs. Indira Gandhi which resulted in people from Sikh community being targeted by angry mobs. As the author’s family are suddenly at the receiving side of unwarranted hatred from rioting mobs, what was more shocking was neighbors of many years also helped the mobs and alienated this family based on their religion.
That was not the only communal event the author’s family had to witness, as his father witnessed the brutalities and bloodbath during the Partition in 1947. The author also recounts how religion was cause of bullying during his school days and through his life journey and experiences, the author starts questioning the meaning and relevance of religion to humanity. As he slowly turns atheist, he also questions the massive wealth religious bodies are gathering in the name of God.
I have earlier read the debut book from the author and this one is a huge improvement and a step forward for him as a writer — the writing style and narration is catchier, while retaining his strength — human emotions. Though the events mentioned in the book are real and have happened in the past, the trauma and grief feels real each time we reminisce them especially when it is narrated by someone who had been a victim. The large size of the book could weigh down some readers, so does the story that drags at places.
If you like reading true incidents from the past, which are raw and real, then this one is for you, as the author questions the norms of humanity that often get lost in society’s obsession for religion.