by Dr Anitah Aujayeb
A new book on Agalega – ‘Le Voyage d’une vie’ – comes from Mauritian author Dr (Mrs) Anitah Aujayeb and was launched some time back at the Town Hall of Quatre Bornes.
It is a rare and extremely well researched peep into the history and life of Agalega and its islanders, in French
This book comes at a time when this small island of ours is in the limelight in relation to all the recent developments happening there presently. Hence, the book has come at the right time.
Some time later, people will see another face of this beautiful island but the “cachet original” will be always admired in the book of Dr Aujayeb, who has described Agalega as a place where
“ La pendule est mise 100 ans en arrière”, and “nul autre voyage ne pouvait me rendre si près de Dieu”.
This book of about a hundred pages relates the author’s travel to Agalega, where she finds “ l’abondance des pluies dans la canicule du voisin Equateur” or even “ Les cruelles absurdités de la vie dans les petits malheurs du pays”.
The book has been expertly analysed and prefaced by Tristan Carver, former island administrator, whom the author always describes as “le colon sans son cheval”.
Mr Carver notes that “cette publication a le grand mérite de faire connaitre à tous les Iliens de l’océan Indien et tout particulièrement à cette jeunesse qui a soif d’aventures, ainsi qu’aux écologistes fervent, ces petites îles d’Agaléga peu connues, mais de nos jours tellement essentielles de par sa situation géographique”.
What is more interesting about this book is to note that Dr Aujayeb, being one among the rare women poets of Mauritius, combines prose and poetry to reveal her feelings, in a perfect narrative, descriptive as well as expository style. It has been said that prose and poetry have two particular characteristics. Prose is walking while poetry is dancing. These two features make the readers have a leisure walk in this beautiful island of Agalega as well as dance in tune with the luxuriant fauna and flora of the place under the giant coconut leaves whistling in the heat waves.
The mastery of description that lies in the writer’s hands is special and assertive. The conversational tone brings the reader on the island where he roams freely on the twin islands, talking to the divine and to himself, as he enjoys the internal as well as the external rejuvenating peace and tranquillity.
This research work on almost all the important facets of this island, starting from the period of slavery to the modern times will surely be of great interest to historians and lovers of literature. It is available in all bookshops.
* Published in print edition on 22 November 2019
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