Watching the video on proverbs I couldn’t but go back in time to Kavitha’s school days. In those days if you win a prize at school you are given a voucher to buy a book of your choice and the school will stamp it and present it at their annual prize giving ceremony. The voucher was I believe for £10, but you are allowed to add money and buy what you want. Kavitha’s award was for art and design and I thought long and hard about what to get. She had no suggestions if I remember or even if she did I vetoed it probably thinking that the book should represent the course for which she received the award and should be within the specified amount. We made a day of it and searched for a suitable book in one of London’s leading bookstores. ‘Foyles’ was the place to go in those days where you could buy books on every subject you wished for. Finally I found it, the perfect book and within budget too. A book on proverbs from around the world illustrated by Axel Scheffler. A charming book filled with delightful drawings to go with the proverbs. The book perfectly embodied the spirit of the award I thought although we didn’t know anything about the illustrator in those days. I had never heard of the ‘Gruffalo’ books and Kavitha was never introduced to it. When Kavitha gave the book in to have the award message stamped the teacher apparently smiled. I wondered whether it was a mocking smile or an acknowledgement smile. Most children I believe opted for educational books and this certainly didn’t conform to the then standards.
Three years later she received another award. This time it was a general one and I added more money and bought a book on the compact history of the world thinking that this is what I should have done previously. Looking back I realise that my first choice was the right one. I don’t know if Kavitha agrees. The little red book of proverbs always incites a sense of fun when I leaf through the pages even though some of the proverbs seem to be lost in translation. The Compact History of the World on the other hand is still waiting on the bookshelf for someone to open it. It might have to wait a very long time.