"Pussy cat, Pussy cat, Where have you been?
I've been to London to look at the Queen.
Pussy cat, Pussy cat, What did you do there?
Oh! I saw, and I learnt, I saw, and I explored, things like never before."
I had never imagined that a few words would take me so far. The winner's week was the most exciting and illuminating experience of my life. The four days were packed with fun-filled and educative activities. I want to describe a day from the winner's week that is close to my heart. Not only was it the most exciting day but a day that I never wanted to end because it was the last day of my trip to London.
It was the day we had been waiting for, for we were going to be felicitated at St James’s Palace by Her Majesty The Queen (then HRH Duchess of Cornwall) for our writings in the presence of great writers and dignitaries. As I entered the palace, I felt it was a scene out of a movie. Everything was so grand and regally decorated with plush red furniture and carpets, gold-gilded decor with impeccable silk adorning the walls and beautiful life-size paintings all around, it just felt Royal. Once inside, everything felt surreal, as I stood amongst the most famous personalities in the world whom we all dream of meeting once in our lifetime. I was touched by their humbleness, their coming to us and applauding us made me feel like a celebrity. Her Majesty personally talked with each one of us, and not only did she compliment us but also encouraged us to take our writing further. I had never imagined that in my life I would ever be able to talk and shake hands with a person of so high a stature and how I felt at that moment is something that I can never express in words. The whole thing felt unreal, a commoner going inside a PALACE, a place where Queens and Kings live. If all this wasn't enough, our writings were read by famous authors in front of us, filling each of the winners with pride (mine was read by best-selling author Susan Hill), we also received a gift in the Royal Cypher case by Her Majesty and personally signed books from RCS Ambassador David Walliams.
Visiting the London Library was yet another intellectually stimulating experience planned for us on that day. Just thinking about famous authors like Charles Dickens, T.S Eliot writing their books, contributing to the library's history, and reading books in the very place I was standing made me have goosebumps. A fascinating thing that I came across in the library was that they had a copy of every newspaper publication of The Times since its publication. I was given a chance to open the edition of the newspaper of any month, of any year. It was like time travelling into your past, which was both thrilling and engrossing. Another striking feature of the library was its flooring made of iron grille It was different from anything that I had ever seen before as one could see all the floors beneath you while standing, loaded with book stacks which looked freakish. Later in that library, we talked with Mei Fong, the Pulitzer prize winner, who at our age was one of the winners of this competition. She motivated us and gave us writing tips which improved my writing skills.
The last but another highlight of this exciting day was to watch Matilda. It was the first time I had witnessed a musical show, and it was way beyond my imagination. The realistic effects, props, the acting of children, their coordination was mind-blowing. It was like a movie being played in real life with no retakes of any scene. The end of the show also meant it was time for me to say goodbye and being so attached with everyone made me emotional.
To everyone around the Commonwealth nations, I would just like to say do participate and don't participate to win; just participate in it because you enjoy writing and want to make your voice heard.
The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the Royal Commonwealth Society.