When I woke up this morning I didn’t really have any plans for the day. I thought I’d reorganize my schedule so that I can have a smooth blogging the coming week. But then I decided to go to Port Louis. It wasn’t to watch the races. No, although it was the second day of horse racing here. I don’t feel like having an interest for the races any more. All seems to be high-betting business and you have to be armed with a good dose of patience if you want to see the sports side of it. So it was rather to visit a book fair that was organized by the National Library in the context of World Book Day. It’s become an annual feature now at the Caudan Waterfront.
I was curious to see what’s selling, how it’s being done and who the local publishers are. I was pleasantly surprised that people do indeed show the interest deserved in books and other literatures in this era of information technology. Although a wide range of resources is available on the internet; hard copies are still in high demand. We have to reckon that books will continue to exist, as long as writers and readers will exist.
It was a family event. Some years back there was no much rush. People now make it a point to attend such event, and with their wards. They want to “show” their children rather than “tell” them what’s going on and how, what’s there in the market, and how they can benefit. It’s sort of making them get the feel of the book world. Education and upbringing have become highly competitive. Excellence is the word. You could see everybody leafing through every single piece of literature. Much more, everybody had something in their hands, a book, a magazine, a periodical or other reading stuff as they were leaving the stands. Prices were considerably reduced on some materials.
The nearly two-meter-corridor in between the 20 or so book stands was crammed; and the air was roasting. In another stand some meters away, children were invited to story telling, quiz, reading and reciting poems. A well-known artist entertained them.
But my attention was drawn by an old lady, well, older than me, sitting in front of a desk with some books under a large umbrella. She was outside the stands. As I passed by she invited me to have a look. She was promoting inspirational items. She immediately discovered by my body language that I wasn’t interested. Even then she insisted. I didn’t want to displease her. So I had a quick glance. She knew I was doing it for her sake. In a move to conceal her embarrassment she asked me with a smile:
“You’re champion, Sir?”
On the spot, I didn’t get her. I just murmured: “Well… but I’m fond of reading…. and a bit of writing, for the pleasure of it… Just that.”
She regained her ease now; and we started exchanging some vibes about my interest in writing when I realized that I was wearing a T-shirt on which was written “Champion”. Before I’d blush I decided to withdraw as somebody else popped at the desk. I was just slipping away when she looked at me in my eyes: “I hope to see you in print, Sir. Good luck; and May God bless.”
The words she uttered during the brief conversation seem still to be rolling in my mind. I cannot imagine how meaningful they can be. I hope I can make it one day. If not for me, at least for my well-wisher. Although by now I cannot figure out who I talked to.
Mauritian residing in Rodrigues, Amanoola Khayrattee (pen name Alfa King) is contributing writer and journalist to La Gazette Mag de l’océan indien and This Week News Mauritius.
Retired, former meteorological cadre, trade unionist and OSH consultant, Amanoola has written for in-house union and other journals, publications and magazines. He runs two blogs since 2007: “Alfa King Memories”, and “Le Journal d’Alfa King”. When he is not reading or writing, he is on a 10+ km daily hike in anticipation of his monthly trails.
Amanoola may be reached at [email protected].