My friend Sameer wrote a book, One Fine Day. There’s nothing unusual about this; I have a number of writer friends who’ve written books. That is after all, what we do. But I think this work is special.
I first met Sameer in the hallway of my apartment building. He was walking slowly, oh so slowly with the assistance of a cane, from his door to the elevator. I think I held the elevator for him as he made his way there. He thanked me, and I commented that it looked as if he’d gone through a rough time. He nodded, smiled and said, “Catastrophic hemorrhagic stroke in my cerebellum.”
He got out—slowly—at the first floor. I rode down to the garage. At the time of our initial meeting, I’d just gone through yet another cancer operation and was feeling sorry for myself, but it was obvious that Sameer’s woes were far more overwhelming than mine.
A couple of weeks later, we met again in the hallway. We exchanged a bit of information. He asked what I did and I told him I was a writer. His eyes lit up. “Really? I’m writing a book myself!” We decided to meet in the near future and have lunch.
Sammer Bhide, I learned, had been levelled by his stroke when he was 47. At the time, he was married with two kids and lived in a Washington, DC, suburb. He’d spent a month in an induced coma and there were serious doubts that he would survive. If he did, most doctors thought, he would be severely impaired.
During lunch at a nearby Lebanese restaurant, he told me a ghost writer was helping him with the first draft of his books, and it would be more than just a recollection of his stroke and his healing. He wanted it to be a treatise on gratitude. He had survived, he told me, and wanted to help people faced with situation similar to his, be they medical, emotional, or mental. His life had changed drastically in an instant, and his survival would depend on his ability to seek acceptance to what he called a new normal.
Over the last few years, I’ve helped people with their books—with plotting, character development, pacing, and all the other fine points that make a work readable. During the next couple of months, Sameer and I met for coffee and spoke often about writing, and I was impressed with his dedication to the task. Eventually, he asked if I’d go over the manuscript and come up with suggestions.
The first thing I noticed was, indeed, Sameer’s gratitude. He insisted on thanking all the people who had helped him—physicians, nurses, assistants, rehabilitators, the whole gamut of specialists in the US and in India who’d cared for him. He thanked his friends, dozens of them, some of whom had escorted him to India and back to the States. He thanked his wife and his children, and I learned that he’d gone through a divorce while he was healing. He thanked his mother, and his mother’s neighbors and friends in Mumbai. He thanked so many people that I suggested he consider doing an epilog where he could name all the people to whom he owed a debt of gratitude. Sameer opted to get treatments encompassing both Western and traditional Eastern medicine. The descriptions he offers of the treatments received in the US and in India make the book worth reading.
One Fine Day is officially coming out next week. Look for it on Amazon. It’s a good book, a guidebook, really, on how one can prepare for and embrace their new normal, whatever it is might be, with positivity, grace and gratitude.
I hope you’ll read it. It’s well-deserving of a wide audience.