When The Royals accepted Mumbai-based author Sakshi Singh's gift
Last week, Mumbai-based author and teacher Sakshi Singh received an unexpected letter in her mailbox.
The mail, which came in from London's Kensington Palace, left Singh wobbly for a few seconds. “I didn't know what to expect,” the 32-year-old recounts of the time, before she opened the sealed envelope.
The letter that author Sakshi Singh sent to Prince George and Princess Charlotte in April, along with the copy of her book Jalebi Jingles
A sigh of relief followed as she went on to read the contents of the letter: Their Royal Highnesses are most grateful to you for taking the trouble to send them a copy of your book…and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have asked me to send you their warmest thanks and best wishes. “The Royals,” gushes Singh, “had accepted my gift.”
In April this year, Singh, who was then visiting the London Book Fair to promote her second self-published collection of 47 children's poems Jalebi Jingles, had acted on a whim when she decided to gift her book to Prince George and Princess Charlotte. “For some reason, I have always wanted to send my book to the Queen. When I was told that writing to the Royals was acceptable, I thought why not gift the kids a book that was uniquely Indian,” she says.
Singh then visited the official website, which mentions the protocol that one has to follow to connect with the Royals. “The standard procedure is to send a snail mail, which is why I attached a handwritten note with the gift. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting them to respond,” she adds. But, they did. And this has given Singh the much-needed impetus, to take her work forward. “Poetry is not recognised as being useful, so it becomes all the more difficult to find takers for your work,” she says, while explaining why she had to opt for self-publishing. “But if you believe in your work, the options to get your book out there, are plenty,” says Singh, who, in December 2014 published a book of poems called Rat-A-Tat that has sold over 1,500 copies.
Her most recent work, Jalebi Jingles, which probably now sits in the Royal bookshelf, took Singh around eight months to write. The book, which released on Amazon in March this year, is an ode to Indian traditions, savouries and festivals.
Her poems, she says, draw from the many experiences she’s had as a child. For example, her work Jingling Jalebis, which also inspired the book’s title, reminds Singh of the time she spent in Agra. “I was born in Agra and had wonderful memories of my childhood in the small city where every Sunday my mother sent me to the local halwai to buy jalebis. I looked forward to the treats,” she says. Similarly, her poem — Rupa, Ganga! — tells the story of the missing cows in her grandfather’s town. “My grandfather lived in Mainpuri, a small district that’s few hours away from Agra. Each time I visited, one or two of his cows, would be missing. We were told they have gone grazing, but the truth was they had left us,” she says. “All the poems are short, simple verses and limericks, which kids would like to sing and hum. At the same time, they have a certain sense of rhythm and rhyme to them as well. I have incorporated Hindi words in some of the poems, because poetry is a carrier of culture, and if I am taking my work outside of India, it becomes an important medium to connect people there with the life here,” says Singh.
The reason why Singh chose the London Book Fair to showcase her newest work was because of her long-standing association with schools in the UK. The educationist visits the country annually to attend teaching conferences there, and her previous book Rat-a-tat is already being used to teach poetry at Prestfelde School in Shrewsbury and King Edward School in Bury St Edmunds. Jalebi Jingles too will soon be part of a Cambridge school’s poetry syllabus, says Singh.
“Showcasing my work at the fair was an insightful experience. I met several patrons of poetry, so it was a great platform for me,” says the author, who has been approached by a UK-based publisher for her next set of works.
Meanwhile, she continues to enjoy her day-job as a private teacher, conducting language art workshops for children.