Why I Wrote an Heartfelt Letter to the Author of On Angels’ Wings

Those who know me understand that I am emotional, observe human emotions and make note of them. When I received an anonymous book from an anonymous writer, I flipped through the pages to find forewords written by renowned journalist Barkha Dutt, Senior Journalist from Ottawa Terry Milewski and Senior Advocate of Supreme Court Sanjoy Ghose. But above all, there was a handwritten note:

Dear Ms Sneha Goel,

Happy Reading!

Hope you enjoy my life story as much as I enjoyed bringing it to you.


Sanjay Lazar (Duly Signed)


Without wasting a minute, I started reading his life’s story On Angels’ Wings: Beyond the Bombing of Air India 182. I completed the read the day we met virtually on the My Book section of The Fertile Brains by Prasanna Kkumar (poet, writer and humanitarian) along with the author, editor, travel writer, poet and social justice activist Dr Roopali Sircar Gaur and award-winning poet Dr Gargi Saha. A member of Kanishka Air India 182 bombing victim’s family, Dr Sujata, also joined to share the horrifying stories of the day of the bombing and beyond. What struck me was her words, “Pain can be turned into humanitarian service.” She also added that no amount of recognition can fill the void left by her brother’s sister and two kids in the heart of the husband and father (her brother-in-law) who lost everything on 23 June 1985.

We would not have known the tragedy suffered by the victims and families of Air India 182, had Mr Sanjay Lazar not written the book. On Angels’ Wings is an autobiographical saga of Mr Sanjay Lazar, a very eminent figure in the field of aviation for about 38 years. He is an Economics Honours, an International Law Degree holder and an Aviation Operations Programme from Mithibai College, Harvard University and Hong Kong University respectively. He has completed more than 12 years of VVIP flights, led a National trade union, All India Cabin Crew Association (AICCA) for 25 unbroken years, fought countless court battles in India and abroad, worked as a coordinator for the IFS (International Flight Support) department in the Director’s office and also held the position of section head at Air India Customer Care. He proudly calls Air India his Airline.

On Angels’ Wings is a book that tells the tale of the trials and tribulations faced by Mr Sanjay from the age of 12. While he has seen more grief, loss and challenges than anyone can imagine, his autobiography is not just a sad gloomy set of incidents that he encountered as a child and then as a teenager, and thereafter; for me what sets this book apart is the tenacity with which he tells the grave injustice he and his brother faced at Williams College, the crew and passengers of Kanishka Air India-182 faced on 23 June 1985 and the families of the fallen plane faced at the hands of Canadian Government and Judicial system. A book that is a must-read says the renowned journalist Barkha Dutt, I can’t agree more when bestselling author Vir Sanghvi calls it a moving read.

Image of the cover page of On Angels’ Wings from


This is why and what I wrote to Mr Sanjay Lazar after reading the book and hearing about his book and life from him on 10th February 2024:


Dear Sanjay Sir,

I am writing this email to give my detailed review of your autobiographical book ‘On Angels’ Wings’. I received your book on 20th January 2024 with a heartful note and autograph. Every reader is thrilled to get a copy signed by the author and so was I. I started reading immediately and have already read 50 pages in one day. The way you cared for your younger brother was inspirational and soon I started telling my young students and daughters what a ten, eleven, or twelve-year-old can do.
Despite the loss and grief you have experienced, you wrote about happy anecdotes as if they were the last moments of joy in your life and I lived through the fun time your words described while laughing hard at Sandeep’s jokes, a fun time with your friends and then as a cabin crew member. What I found profound in your book is gratefulness to every person you come across in your life. Your perspective on life has a fragrance that lifts the mood of the readers and listeners too.
You have told us about what kids go through when their parents argue every day and divorce. You informed us about how difficult it is for an elder sibling when the younger one is getting abused and bullied and no one cares or hears what the elder one is trying to do to protect his younger brother. You showed what a child goes through when he sees the death of his brother just after they bonded more. You went on to tell the reader of the experience of a 12th-grade failed child and confessed to having made mistakes for getting such low marks.
Chapter 2 was a heart-rending read and I as a reader was shocked to learn what families of a terrorist attack go through especially when you were the only one left in the family and that too were still a minor and immature to the ways of the world. The picture of the victims’ bodies wrapped in shrouds sent a terror about how terrible things look in reality. Having seen the real face of Sylvia’s family right after her death was a shock to you but as a mature reader, I knew how it works and was not shocked by what they did. However, the fact that you forgave them was unexpected and I know I could never do that. Your intense training at the age of eighteen and then your early stint at glamorous flying life but soon the hard reality hammered on you is a lesson worth learning — all that glitters is not gold.
By the first anniversary of your family’s demise, you had transitioned into a man. “I was no longer the lost young boy of a year ago, wandering aimlessly, looking and waiting for the ships, to bring the bodies back to shore, but it was a powerful and painful memory.” These lines in chapter 4 make the reader feel a sense of pity and pride in you at the same time. You are like a hero who emerges higher after being battered by life. That is the reason I believe your book is a benchmark in the autobiographical section because you have told the story of your loss, tragedies, challenges and terrorism with tenacity and utmost transparency.
Through your various court fights at Air India, I have seen that you have equally admired and appreciated the opposition parties and their lawyers. You wrote, “When the battle is over, retire, break bread, and admire the other side, for the valiant fight they waged.” It is a sign of a true leader that you are — to put it in your words ‘fight the honourable fight’.
I have been fighting court battles since April 2021 and when I read about your 8-hour interrogation I knew how hard it is to sail through it. Even standing in the witness box and answering the opposition lawyer’s questions makes me anxious for days every time. You remembered your father’s words to avoid making self-incriminating statements and that was wise of him to tell you this in childhood itself. The incidents in your life as a book seem like everything was planned by God; your brother, father, Sandeeta and Sylvia are guardian angels. Your mother’s words, “I hope I didn’t raise a Male Chauvinist for a man,” made me respect her so much because mothers usually refrain from saying something that would offend their grown-up sons who are doing well in life.
The impact of Ivan, Celia and Tasha in shaping you as a responsible person can’t be appreciated enough. Your encounters with JRD Tata, Bala Saheb Thackeray and Atal Bihari Vajpayee; and the kind of respect and love you have for them is evident through the incidents and pictures you have shared. I read the part, where Malik and Bagri were acquitted, on 9th February’24 when I myself went to the court and witnessed the opposition smiling about how things were going their way and could not help but compare the smirks on the faces of the two terrorists with that of them. I know your battle is ongoing and the pain every time the justice is denied is unbearable and the emotional breakdown takes days to make you feel normal. Even after all these you walk through life and meet people with a happy face, which is truly admirable.
I completed reading the book on the morning of 10th February and met you virtually that day at 9 pm. The way you explained the technicalities of how the Kanishka Air India-182 bombing took place explains why you want to bring this book to the world and the other two books as well because we, those who are unaware, should know the truth behind that tragedy. I am eagerly awaiting “The Blood of Angels’ and want to know the truth behind the denied justice.
Your yearning to tell the stories of your family finally materialized in January 2024 and this book stands as a tribute to your loving family and to those who lost their lives in the Kanishka Air India-182 bombing. Your words are magical, powerful, and sentimental, and the principles of your life are laudable and should be taught to the young generation.
I thank you for considering me worth sending this personally signed book which has changed me as a person.
Best wishes,
Sneha Goel
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About the reviewer, author and writing coach:

Sneha Goel is a British Council–certified IELTS trainer and Scholastic India–mentored short story writer. She is a published author, poet and diarist. Her reviews, blogs, poems, stories and thoughts are appreciated by writers of international repute. Apart from writing, she is passionate about teaching English to children. She teaches English grammar, literature, creative writing, academic writing, story writing, poetry writing and Spoken English to students from class 1 up to grown-ups. To know more about her writing training and English language teaching services click here.

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