A Day to Remember

A Day to Remember

The typical question that arises in the mind when looking into an author is – “What inspired you to do what you do today?” Ms. Berlie Doherty’s answer to this question was just one sentence: “I just like to write.” One would invest their time and effort into something they find beloved, in her case, writing. Her passion and dedication led Ms. Doherty to who she is today and brought us the lovely novel: ‘The Girl Who Saw Lions’ (initially published as Abela).

Our school SNIS, one of the top IB Schools in Bangalore, and our awesome English Literature teacher, Ms. Sheena, organized a meeting with the famous author, who agreed to give us some of her precious time to share her journey of writing ‘The Girl Who Saw Lions’. A few of our curious middle and high schoolers were interested in uncovering the backstory that led to this time and what was going through the novelist’s mind when coming up with this masterpiece of a story.

One of the more intriguing questions asked was, ‘Seeing that you’ve worked in adoption and child care, is Abela’s happy ending realistic in today’s child care system?’. Her answer, ‘Yes! it’s very relatable to real life and the adoption faculty in Sheffield is absolutely wonderful!’ caught the students by surprise, as they had assumed the opposite!

We also learned that Ms. Doherty actually worked and stayed in the same village in Tanzania, collected her information, and researched in depth for the novel, even though it is fiction. Did you know, in the story, a woman chases Abela around with a scythe? Well, guess what! There was actually an old lady chasing Ms. Doherty around with a scythe, the same way she wrote about it for Abela!  If that doesn’t show dedication to her craft, we don’t know what does!

Another student found the dual POV’s (point of view) in the story riveting and posed a question asking about why Ms. Doherty made that choice. She responded with a more tactical answer, stating she wanted to ‘get into the minds of both characters, and let the readers experience the world from both Abela’s and Rosa’s eyes’, which we will certainly think about when writing our own stories in the future.

Another one of our students wanted to know if Ms. Doherty identified more with Bibi (Abela’s grandmother) as a grandmother herself, or with Rosa’s mum as a more direct parental figure. She acknowledged that she did relate to Rosa’s mum more than Bibi, but loves both of the characters equally.

Finally, quite a unique question about large and small screen adaptations of ‘The Girl Who Saw Lions’. Compellingly enough, we learned that the prominent writer had actually been approached with a movie deal, and she accepted! However, in the end, regrettably, the deal fell through and they weren’t able to come up with a product. However, Ms. Doherty expressed that she would be overjoyed to be approached with another deal to take this story onto big screens from one of SNIS’ future cinematographers! As one of the top international schools in Bangalore, SNIS definitely encourages students to be open-minded and consider a variety of career options that suit the interests of each student.

In the end, our students truly and thoroughly relished this opportunity and we are extremely honored to be graced by Ms. Berlie Doherty’s dignified presence, and it really was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and definitely, a day to remember.

Akshara, Jiya, Kaitlyn, Hasini of Grade 9

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