Those Days in Delhi by Yashodhara Lal Review: A nostalgic trip to the 90s

“So what if she’s the typical awkward middle child?” the first line of the blurb and I was sold. Being a middle child myself, I needed someone to share my pain and struggle of growing up ignored by my parents. Not on purpose but by default. The author gave me a comrade in form Y Lal of 7th standard. At first, I was skeptical that I won’t be able to relate since I didn’t grow up in Delhi, but my doubts were thrown away by the end of the first chapter itself.

Yashodhara Lal, famously known as Y Lal in 7th F and as Gudia at home, is a middle child who loves playing with her little sister Chand, climbing trees and re-enacting scenes from the movies she saw on stolen VCR cassettes from her parents. Her mother is a government employee who goes around throwing proverbs whenever asked for help. Her father, a doctor is warm and sweet but always concerns his wife when it comes to making decisions related to the kids. Her elder brother ignores her existence and only appears to get her in trouble or rat her out, which every elder sibling is famous for. At first, Gudia is jealous of Chand as she feels everything changed after Chand.


“My mother hadn’t always been weird. I kind of blamed Chand for the changes in her. Until I was three-and-a-half, Mum had been warm, attentive, loving and a whole bunch of other good stuff, but it had all gone out the window one fine day – the same day that my younger sister came along. At least, that was the way that my traumatised younger self remembered it.”

But Gudia comes around when it comes to loving Chand because she is the only partner in crime Gudia has. The story revolves around Y Lal and her struggles to wax, to escape the boring classes and getting through exams with at least average percentage. She is always overshadowed by her brother who is an honour student. On the way to 7th class, she finds herself getting more popular, making new friends, crushing on a guy and finding herself in basketball. The book has everything a 90’s child can relate to. Reading champak, Archie comics, referring to encyclopaedias, climbing trees, collecting pocket money to buy imli ladoos and different churan’s and buying those diaries from Archie’s which came with a small lock. Coming up with new games, playing pranks, stressing about holiday homework and cycling around to escape boring summer holidays. There were so many nostalgic moments that it felt like I was reading my own story of those good old days when the biggest point of stress was a maths test.

The ending had me crying thinking about my relationship with my mother. The story flows easily. There isn’t a build-up or thrill to keep you turning pages. Read it like how you slowly turn the pages of an old photo album, laughing and crying at every page. All the characters are so relatable, though I wish I could read the perspective of the elder sibling. You will love the cute little Chand and hate Rupali. ‘Those Days in Delhi’ is a must-read for every 90s kid. Take a break and revisit your childhood with Y Lal of 7th F. You will love it.