The woody scent of roast chestnuts fills my whole being again, after decades and so far away from Europe; I am at One Utama shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur; memories of my student days flashed in front of my open eyes like a collage of eventful occurrences.
It was my first winter in London.
In those times,the days were extremely short and dark.Snow piled up in heaps on both sides of the roads as my friend,Baba, and I struggled to pave our way to Holborn tube station. Curbed into two,shivering under my winter coat, a whiff of browning nuts made me jerk. I turned to my friend and asked – ” What’s the scent?’ “Roasting chestnuts” he replied, as he gestured with his chin at a black silhouette in the corner of the street. I could vaguely make out,in the distance,a man or a woman, shabbily dressed, occupied in front of a stove of burning charcoals.A light smoke raised as a cloudy mist around the stove, danced playfully in the icy air. We crossed the road. The alluring scent of roast chestnuts swelled my nostrils. Baba bought a small paper bag of piping hot chestnuts and ceremoniously offered it to me. I tasted the first roast chestnut of my life and I spontaneously became fond of this soft and delightful delicacy.
Baba took up a job at Knightsbridge for end of term and Christmas vacation. Among other lovely Christmas gifts, which he offered to me,I found a luxuriously wrapped box of ‘marrons glacés’ from Harrods.
After our law studies, we parted. We did not keep in touch but I still love chestnuts,roasted,candied or steamed.
It’s amazing how the sound of music or the whiff of a scent can bring to our mind souvenirs of cherished instances that we carry inside us and which,possibly none of us actually knows is there.
Going down High Street,Olympia, My heart overflows with nostalgia; On tree tops, I behold, Blossoms of green and gold; At the London Book Fair, Writers and poets fare; In the pages of each book, I delve and I look, Your name is engraved, By the invisible hand of God.
Sad to learn that the world greatest book event, the London Book Fair 2020 is cancelled. I have been visiting the fair stoically for the last five years to exhibit my poetry book and this is where I met the publisher of my debut children’s book The Princess and the Crow in 2016. I was craving to see my book on the shelves of Austin Macauley London. As we say in French ‘l’homme propose, Dieu dispose!’ I, however, salute the decision of the Reeds Exhibition to cancel the event.Better safe than sorry. I look forward to the London Book Fair 2021 with added zeal and ‘ si Dieu le veut’ with a brand new book.
2 APRIL is a very important date for writers of children ‘s books. So it is for me, a debut writer of children’s books.
Since 1967,on or about Hans Christian Anderson’s birthday ,2 April, International Children’s Book Day (ICBD) is celebrated to inspire the love of books in children and to call attention to children’s books.
Activities on this special day include writing competitions,announcements of books awards and events of children’s literature.
Parents are encouraged to read to their children at home, to stimulate their love of books for children, to encourage literacy and arouse the growth of their imagination.
My readers may call this a coincidence but I did receive by courier from Austin Macauley Publishers London the author’s copies of my newly released children’s book on the 2 April.
The Princess and the Crow was officially published on 29 March.