As writers, authors and visitors from all over the world looked at Sancy Prabhakar with admiration and love at the recently held Writers Festival in Auckland, it was a moment of pride, joy and even tears for her parents, Pawan and Shweta Prabhakar.
That moment also became the greatest when Jeff Kinney, the world-renowned author of ‘Diary of the Wimpy Kid,’ who is equally famous for his other books and cartoons, expressed his appreciation as he received the first copy of Sancy’s first book, ‘Pea Boy.’
Jeff was in Auckland for the Festival and returned home pleased with the young author.
But the most significant day did not come about overnight.
It took time, patience, perseverance and most important of all, determination of Shweta to bring about a change in the life of her daughter.
Sancy (earlier name ‘Sanskriti’) was five years old when her family migrated to New Zealand.
“It was a big transition for all of us. Sancy struggled adapt herself to the new country, new people and new accent. She had no friends because language was a big barrier. Her English was good but accent was a problem,” Shweta said.
The fear of not being able to speak English like a New Zealander made her diffident.
“I do not want to go to school tomorrow!” she would say and spend all her time alone.
“I understood her feelings; I knew she was struggling but I did not lose hope. I remembered the words of Albert Einstein: ‘In the middle of difficulty lies Opportunity.’ I was determined to help Sancy out of her predicament,” Shweta said.
The Best Friends
She told Sancy that books can be her best friends and took her to the local library, got her membership (which is free for all Permanent Residents and Citizens) and helped her choose several books.
Sancy finished reading all the books shortly thereafter and asked her mother to take her back to the library. Soon, her interest in reading grew and together, they began to participate in the events held at the library.
“She met many people who became her friends. But her interest in reading more books made us happy and we began to notice a change in her,” Shweta said.
Reading enhanced the little girl’s knowledge and over time, she started discussing what she read with her parents and friends.
Expression of ambition
“Mummy, you will see my books on these shelfs someday,” she told her mother while visiting the library one day.
Shweta said that becoming a poet and a short-story writer was Sancy’s dream.
It was while hearing Sancy read out loud a story one day that, captivated, Shweta asked her the name of its author.
“I am the author, mummy; I, Sancy Prabhakar,” she said with justifiable pride and confidence.
“This would be the ideal opportunity to publish the story and introduce my daughter to New Zealand as a young author. The little girl who would not speak to anyone because of her faltering English and ‘foreign accent’ has gained fluency in the language and was communicating with the outside world through her written expression,” Shweta thought.
The little girl’s dream of having her own books in the library came true. ‘Pea Boy’ was officially launched at the Epsom Community Library on May 26, 2018 with several friends and well-wishers and the library staff admiring the determination of the young author.
“Children get motivated and become determined to achieve their ambitions if parents spend time with them and motivate them to act. As parents, we can make a discernible difference to their lives. Sometimes we completely ignore them in the hustle and bustle of our lives. But believe me, the only thing they need is your time,” Shweta said.
About Pea Boy
Pea Boy is the story of a child who always gets into trouble with peas. He hates showers, but his mother mum and elder sister Candace always tell him he must shower. That makes him hate showers even more. Instead, they could have made him understand through love and care. All they had to do was spare some time for Pea Boy.
Sancy has other passions too. They include writing, singing, making toys, modelling, and playing Cricket. She practices Cricket at a local Cricket Club, while her father Pawan also teaches her the game at which he is adept.
-With reporting by Shweta Prabhakar
- Sancy Prabhakar
- Cover of ‘Pea Boy’