• Sushma Ramesh

Once There Was Me: The Extraordinary Life of an Unknown Indian by Bobby Sachdeva

Book Name: Once There Was Me: The Extraordinary Life of an Unknown

Author: Bobby Sachdeva

Publishers: Panmacmillan India

Price: 347 INR (Paperback)

Available on: Amazon

About the Book:

Caught in the web of communal violence repeatedly, Bobby Sachdeva stares at his burning house set afire by the bloodthirsty mob of the anti-Sikh riots in Delhi. As a fourteen-year-old, his world turns upside down, exactly at the age his father had escaped from Pakistan during the Partition of India. Recovering from the trauma, Bobby re-builds his business and journeys across the US and China, experiencing a life unhindered by religious animosity. Having experienced both sides of religion – of immersion and detachment – he starts questioning the role of religion in our lives. Based on his vision of an emergent India, Bobby finally submits a PIL in the Supreme Court for religious shrines to distribute their excess income for the downtrodden. What happens next as religious hardliners turn against him?

About the Author:

Bobby Sachdeva is a story teller and a businessman based in Amritsar. While his profession and his circle of interaction marks him out as an outsider in literary circles, his radical views on religion, society and tradition make him stand out as an unconventional writer from among the non-literary common people. Several of his short stories are under consideration by media houses. He is currently producing short films based on these short stories in Punjabi and Hindi. After The Stories of Us, Bobby Sachdeva's novel Once There Was Me releases in April 2020.

My take on the Book:

The narrative of the title ‘Once there was me’ starts with the Delhi Riots of 1984 and honestly, it was heartbreaking. I have never really given a thought of how it all began and what did it cost to the Sikh people of our country, but now when I read and understood what all struggles they had to go through and endure being a minor community in India, it sickens me in my stomach.

There is so much to learn from this book for me. One major thing I absolutely loved and live up to is that, no matter how many times you break down, don’t give up but fight back. Fight back until you don’t get to where you want to be and give in your best to stand with your head up on your feet. It also teaches the importance of family and friends. Especially in the unknown place of a foreign country, it teaches how to be grounded and live life to the fullest. No matter what one regrets about their life, it teaches it's all a part of the journey and never to stop believing in one’s self.

I will not give away much of the plot because there are already so many bloggers who have reviewed the book with all the plot analysis and I don’t want to be repetitive. But one thing I want to stress you all is to pick up this book with zero expectations and read it like it mirroring the social norms and life of minority people in India. Read it like you are Bobby Sachdeva, living his life for himself, doing what he wished to do even when that’s not what his Dad expected him to be and how he struggled to be where he is today.

Even though this memoir is half part fiction, it has all the potential to be one of the best in its genre and I appreciate the author for writing this book. I can clearly see him pouring all of his blood, sweat, and tears onto this book and it was all worth it at the end when I finished reading it. Recommending this book to all!

Overall ratings: 🌟🌟🌟🌟