After the immense success of the first edition in the French language, my audience started to ask for a version of my illustrated children’s book in the Kreole language and in English.The French version was launched and immediately put for sale in December 2020.
I contacted many translators and publishers in Mauritius to translate and publish the book in Kreole. I did not get any response mainly because Mauritius was under confinement for a long time.
As all things have a good and a bad side, I spent my time in confinement to translate the book in English.
The Mitsui O.S.K Lines (Mauritius) Ltd, the Japanese Company, owner of the bulk carrier ship MV Wakashio that ran aground on the coral reefs and spilled oil off the coast of Mauritius, collaborated in the printing and publishing of the new book.
On Tuesday 10 August 2021 , Mitsui O.S.K Lines Mauritius Ltd organized the launch ceremony of the English Edition in the presence of His Excellency the Ambassador of Japan in Mauritius, Mr. Kawaguchi.
The launch ceremony was held in the office of the Mitsui O.S.K Mauritius Ltd at Pointe D’Esny in Grand Port, Mauritius. We could see with binoculars the remaining part of the wreck of MV Wakashio. A sad sight!
I am overjoyed with the progress of my illustrated children’s book Wakashio. Je souhaite partager avec mon audience cet élan de bonheur.
Je remercie mes lecteurs pour leur soutien.
‘To have a great book, we must have a great audience’. C.S.Lewis.
MV WAKASHIO , a Japanese- owned bulk carrier ran aground on the coral reefs, off the coast of the tropical island Mauritius, on 25 July 2020.
Wakashio was empty of cargo but had an estimated 200 tons of diesel and 3,800 tons of heavy fuel oil on board.
Little by little, with the strength of the heavy waves, cracks arose in its hull. Fuel oil started to spill on the turquoise blue sea of the coastal district, Mahebourg. In no time, the oil spill reached its shores, destroying marine life, seaweeds, and corals.
The inhabitants ran to the rescue of the lagoon. They made floating booms with sugar cane straw to absorb the oil. In the meantime, foreign help was sought by the Government of Mauritius to block the catastrophic flood of oil from the hull of Wakashio to the sea.
On Assumption Day 2020, Wakashio broke into two. The authorities estimated that it would take decades to tow the two fragmented parts of the ship. Finally, the bow part of Wakashio was sunk in the deep ocean, far from Mauritius. It was also decided that the stern part of the ship that was stuck in the reefs would take decades to tow back. It remained as the remnant of a shipwreck in the lagoon, in the southeast of the green island.
The story here is told from the perspective of two Mauritian children, Angela and Oshin.
INSPIRATION TO WRITE THE STORYBOOK.
Earlier this year, I started a campaign to urge young Mauritian children to read books.
By coincidence, MV WAKASHIO met with a terrible accident at sea and it became the talk of the town in Mauritius and in the whole world. Social media wrote about the shipwreck and posted pictures of the sinking ship.
It dawned upon me to write the story of the Wakashio for children. I felt deep inside that it was a subject that will draw the attention of children, they will pick up the book and they will start to read.
Reading books and listening to stories stimulates the imagination of children.
As Albert Einstein has wisely said-
Imagination is more important than knowledge,
For knowledge is limited,
Whereas imagination embraces the whole world,
Stimulates progress, giving birth to evolution.
I strongly believe that children of all ages should read books and good books. In this age of electronic books, it is much better for parents to encourage a child to read traditional paper books, that he can carry and read every he goes – under a tree in the garden, on the lap of his mom… even where there is no electricity or an internet connection.
Reading books starts at home. First by a mother or a grandmother reading to a child, then by an elder brother or sister reading to a child and finally by a child reading a book by himself.
Salman Rushdie, the world acclaimed bestseller author says –
When a child is born, there are two things that he requires – LOVE AND SAFETY;
The next thing the child says is –
TELL ME A STORY.
Undoubtedly stories are an important part of our adult life; without them life is boring. Most of all, children love stories as dearly as they love toys and games.
My mother was an excellent storyteller. I vividly remember the story of Cinderella and Prince Charming as concocted and told by her when I was a kid. I bemused at her facial expressions and her body movements. I traveled to fairyland, wonderland, to faraway places; I fought with dragons; I talked to birds, rats, rabbits, and other animals.
Mostly, I started to daydream of Prince Charming. Often I took a broom, bigger than myself and arduously swept the kitchen. All the time, I kept an eye on the big pumpkin that mom kept in a corner of the kitchen, wishing that it would explode and Prince Charming would jump out.
From listening to stories, and putting myself in the shoes of Cinderella, I very rapidly developed a fondness for books. From reading books, I gradually started to write stories.
WAKASHIO is my new storybook for children and my first book in French. Mauritian children are more familiar with the French language, oral and written; I have written this book primarily for them.
It is legitimate for writers to remember that children are the adults of tomorrow. They should be made aware of the important happenings of their country and the consequences of their acts from an early age. Wakashio is a tale that relates the story of the wreck of MV Wakashio in pure and simple prose, illustrated by amazing color pictures.
Intoxicated with the elixir of love, My head spins with the fiery beats of the tropical drums, As my body swirls and whirls with the rhythmic vibes; The burning sand scorching the sole of my feet, And I dance and I dance in ecstasy! Imbued with passion, my heart flies high above, Like a shooting star in broad day light, Falls back in the blue lagoon with candid delight And I dance and I dance in ecstasy! Shrouded in a mist of mirage, In the horizon I see your image. In frantic folly I run to tenderly hold you… The mystic drums stop me, The enchanting melody beckons me, Lifts me up and invigorates me, Fills my soul with bursting fantasy And I dance and I dance in ecstasy! -Anita Bacha- Excerpt from my poetry book #SoulPoetry (2015)
After the Second World War, there was a shortage of food stuffs in the Island. In those years, Mauritius was a colony under the British rule.
Nonetheless, our family did not feel the immediate pangs or the aftermath of the war as we were quite well off. My mother, I fondly remember, splashed herself with Yardley Eau de Cologne every morning after her tub bath. She was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen and I could follow her around the whale of a house that we had, sniffing her perfume like a little dog.
My father was a whole sale merchant and he was bringing home our share of ration rice. It was our basic food and also the basic food of the whole population of some 500,000 heads.
A hard, little, yellowish pearl, unpolished and unrefined, my mother told me that this grain of rice came in its husk during the war. In those days called ‘le temps margoze’ (the sour gourd days) by the local people, the women folk had to pound the rice in a mortar to separate the husk from the rice. They used to call it ‘du riz pousse femme’ (the rice that drive women away) because it was a real nightmare for women to pound the rice.
We were fortunate, I gather, because we did not have to pound the rice. But once in a week, in a ceremonial manner my mother sat a small wooden bench and surrounded by the maid servants, they would busy themselves at cleaning the rice. The rice was placed on large aluminum trays in small heaps. It was winnowed and then the grit was separated from the grain. In a small tin, my mother kept the small black stones to throw away and in her lap, the broken rice to feed the birds.
Close to her, on a smaller bench, I sat down to be with her. I felt like a big girl because I could pick out the stones and the broken rice from her heap.
After she had finished and filled a big iron container with the clean rice, I had the liberty to bury my head in the warm and loving lap of my mother. I breathed in the intimate scent of a woman interlaced with the perfume of eau de cologne and the smell of ration rice.
Years after, this scent still filled my whole being with the sweet memory of my mother.
Haiku is a type of short form poetry, originally from Japan. Traditional Japanese haiku consists of three phrases that contain a kireji,or cutting word,17 on in a 5/7/5 pattern and a kigo, a seasonal reference.However, modern haiku vary widely on how closely they follow the traditional elements. I have this crush for haiku and I try my best to be in tune with the ancient haiku poets.
In spiritual life, each aspirant seeks and appeases his spiritual hunger according to his belief , taste or talent.
Grand Bassin, dotingly called ‘Ganga Talao’ , is a Crater Lake situate in a secluded mountain area in the South of Mauritius. Nestled deep in the core recess of the heart of the island, Grand Bassin is recognized as a sacred lake and a replica of the Holy Ganges by the Hindu populace.Every year, thousands of pilgrims from the four corners of the island converge to its precincts; they collect the sacred water of the lake,to offer to Lord Shiva, on the occasion of Maha Shivaratri or The Night of Shiva. This year, the Night of Shiva is celebrated on 21 February. Zealous pilgrims from the north, the east and the west have started to trek to the south since Friday last, blessed by the intermittent drizzles of the rainy season.
ODE TO SHIVA
Graceful, gorgeous white skinned Lord,
You wear the moon on your head,
You are the elixir of life,
Remover of pain and suffering; Immutable, powerful three-eyed Lord,
You are the Embodiment of Light
Bestower of joy and ecstasy
Destroyer of darkness and ignorance
My song is a prayer to you,
My dance is a worship to you,
My body is your temple,
My soul belongs to you.
Illustration/Photography/Anita Bacha Illustration Video/Courtesy of Flying Freaks Aerial Cinematography