There are some stories which you read and forget. And then there are others which remain with you forever. A Year of Wednesdays by Sonia Bahl (Fingerprint!; Rs 299) falls in the latter category for the sheer connect it manages to establish with the reader right from the beginning. The story of this fictional work seems to be a journey taken not by the two main characters but a happenstance which you were once a part of.
From the first chapter itself, the author draws you into this interesting tale which keeps you thinking as to what will happen next? Wouldn’t you want to be reading a book further if the first few lines of the first chapter go like this: “Imagine being squeezed into an airplane toilet with two other people. A man whom you’ve never met until an hour ago…” These lines are enough to draw a reader to go on and read the book further.
She is also honest about sharing facts like when you travel with infants/ kids, it can be quite a challenging task. A majority of us would have encountered such situations ourselves or experienced so by watching fellow passengers during travel, be it on air, on sea or on a train.. In the novel, though the author prays that the seat next to her remains empty for she has a kid travelling with her, “a man sauntered in. Tall, sharp-suited, designer stubble, and a head of just-shampooed perfectly coiffed hair.” And how he takes up the seat next to her. But how this man helps her out during the flight, how the relation between them develops and leads the reader into the story is something Bahl does with immense ease.
The observations Bahl highlights in A Year Of Wednesdays are worth a read. For example, she writes: “…most sensible people would disembark from a moving plane, at high altitude, to avoid sitting near an infant and his presently-not-fit-for-consumption mother.” And then: “His level of just-get-out-there-and-say-it is backed up by his confidence that we are somehow girlfriends who’ve stuck it out from kindergarten to high school, sharing intimate details on everything from morning ablutions to first crushes.”
Or even when she pens: “The stress from a bad morning of quick typing, wrong calls, phone calls, screen sharing, and such seemingly sedentary shit can turn the body into something that’s been pummelled by brass knuckledusters. A five-setter against Nadal at his peak. Chasing after LeBron James on the court for three days. Jogging barefoot through the Sahara.” Kolkata-born and now settled-in-Singapore Bahl beautifully captures situations which most of us have faced in life and as a reader, one immediately connects with them.
The book also reaffirms one’s faith in that you meet someone for a reason. The same happens on that 15-hour New Delhi-New York flight where two completely different individuals meet and get to interact due to strange twist of incidents which are beyond their control. And despite disembarking even without getting to know each other except their seat numbers – 7A and 7B – they somehow remain connected.
A Year Of Wednesdays brings us closer to life and teaches us a few lessons – one, strangers have hearts. Two, life comes a full circle. And three, whatever happens has a reason. So, never be judgmental to begin with about someone just about when you meet them or when you land into a situation. A must read emotional story which brings you face-to-face with life and its many challenges.