Sajini Varadharajan is only 11 years old but she has already been bestowed with the Arabian World Records Recognition at the recently concluded Sharjah International Book Fair for writing and publishing a jaw-dropping 12 books.
Hailing from the state of Andhra Pradesh, India, Sajini’s parents realised she had a flair for writing when she was just 4.
‘Right from the beginning, she had an aptitude for the English language,’ says Sajini’s mother, Radhika Varadharajan. ‘There was a CD titled Your Baby Can Read which her maternal grandfather suggested she watch. Clearly, it worked wonders.’
The family used play it for 10 minutes a day, from the time she was six months old. ‘She used to watch, grasp and try to read the word tiles that appeared on the screen. She tried to read placards too and it was probably the rhymes that interested her, because she also has a flair for music,’ says Sajini’s mother proudly.
At the age of 4 she penned a poem which her family enjoyed. Soon she started penning down poems about ‘everything I saw. So, my parents collected and stored all those poems, and that is how my third book, one with 108 poems, came about’, says the young author.
Since writing her first poem, she has not looked back, churning out short stories, novels, poems regularly.
A student of Grade 7 of Gems United Indian School, Abu Dhabi, to date, Sajini has written and published 12 books that are available on Amazon. She has earned a place in the India Book of Records and Asia Book of Records for ‘Maximum books written by a child at the age of 10 years, 3 months and 16 Days’ in November 2021.
She has been awarded the Multi-Talented Kid Award by Wiser Academy, India, and has made a mark as India Star Icon Kids Achiever by the National Academy for Art Education, Pune.
The little girl is good at Carnatic music too. That is possibly also the beginning of her poems. She penned down a small poem when she was 4 years old and her flair for English grew from then on. ‘One day she came up to me and said, ‘‘Mumma, I finished writing this story, I wrote it on the bus, over many days. Please publish this. I give you a maximum of three months’ time.’’ At first, I did not take it seriously. When I opened the journal, I realised it was a complete novel, not even a story, a complete novel! ‘Now where do I go to publish this’ was my first thought.’ When Radhika told her husband, Varadharajan Ayyasamy, he replied, ‘Now your work starts Google it!’’
From then on, there has been no looking back for the Varadharajans, be it publishing Sajini’s books, encouraging her deep interest in AI and coding, or supporting her vision on being an active advocate for climate change.
‘Since the age of 4, I used to carry a notebook and pen with me wherever I went, framing short poems or write ups about whatever I observed, and that was my hobby. I loved reading books, especially Geronimo Stilton books and I had penned down 200 story reviews for the various books I read,’ says the young author.
The story of her life changed the day she met her favourite author at a local book fair. She credits children’s book writer Elisabetta Dami, famous for the Geronimo Stilton character, for her dive into the world of publishing. ‘At the age of 8, I met the enchanting Elisabetta Dami and I was lucky to have her autograph at the Sharjah Book Fair. A meet and greet with her encouraged and motivated me to write and publish my first book, ‘The Super Junior Series’ in 2019.’
‘Just like Geronimo Stilton, which comprises five characters, I came up with the Super Junior Series which has four characters who solve mysteries across the globe, and they help people in need.’
After writing her first book, she wanted to continue the Super Junior Series with the same four characters, but with new mysteries. Thus came about her second book, The Adventures of the Super Juniors. ‘In this book, I spread the message about preservation of forests and after that, came the third book, Illuminated Anthological Crystals.’
Sajini’s favourite genre is mystery and adventure. ‘They transport me into another world,’ she says. Sitting in the comfort of her home, the little girl enjoys nothing more than escaping into the world of Nancy Drew, Secret Seven and Famous Five. ‘My current favourite is Nancy Drew Diaries, Once Upon a Thriller by Carolyn Keene. This mind-blowing story is about a teenage amateur detective, Nancy Drew, trying to crack a nerve-wracking case. I marvel at how the heroine, Nancy, ventures daringly into the dark with a flashlight to solve the strange happenings.’
The only daughter of Radhika and Varadharajan Ayyasamy, Sajini won the Shastra Prathibha in both 2020 and 2021. The Shastra Prathibha Contest is a science competition which is conducted by the Science India Forum in Dubai. She has also won the Emirates Reader’s Cup in 2020 at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. The multi-talented overachiever has an interest in cracking codes and AI (Artificial Intelligence). She has awards and certificates for her applications, games and python coding. One of the youngest children to complete the Clever India’s Artificial Intelligence Internship Programme under the Senior Researcher of Oxford University Ken Kahn, she created an automated restaurant called ‘Nutrihome’ where users can order their food online and can also give their feedback on the restaurants, either through speech or through text.
‘Cracking coding challenges is my passion,’ says the science student. ‘I started with Scratch programming, moved on to learn MIT App Inventor and Embot. I then developed a further interest in python coding and applying it to Artificial Intelligence.’ No surprise then that one of her books explored this field of study. ‘My fifth book, entitled, Kelly Lunature Thrillers Face in the Mirror is one that involves AI and robots, where a girl named Kelly is trying to find her friend, Vanilla, who starts acting weird and goes missing.’
‘Meeting people and conversing with them motivates me to pen down my novels, stories and poems. It comes naturally to me, when I look out of the window of my school bus, for example. Writing uplifts my mood.’ Not one to compel herself into writing the 13th novel in a certain time frame, she says, ‘I don’t have any pressure; I go with my thoughts.’
While writing is something she enjoys, the least favourite part of the process is editing, again and again. ‘I tend to keep going over the same lines. And every time I re-read my own book, I come up with something new and I feel the need to edit it further, to make my manuscript better and better.’
Passionate about the environment, Sajini is keen to make a difference in the area too.
Her seventh book touches upon conservation of the environment and protecting glaciers. Her inspiration for this one came from Thea Stilton And the Ice Treasure, by Thea Stilton. ‘They were blowing up explosives in Alaska and harming the ecosystem just to steal the ice from the polar region,’ says Sajini. Clearly, the plausible damage this can cause our environment resonated with her, which prompted her to speak about it.
She aims to educate her readers about how to preserve our rainforests, our polar regions and the dire need for climate change, through her writings.
Ask her what she would like to major in University, and she says, ‘Since I care for the environment, I want to become an ecologist. However, I am open minded towards all professions as I grow.’
Sajini’s 12th book, entitled, An Evil Eye on a Musical Tune, which was launched in the Sharjah Book Fair this past week, is also about sustainability and conservation of the environment. It delves into managing waste to safeguard our surroundings for future generations. ‘When we throw trash in the dustbin, it is still in our control, but as soon as it goes out of our hands, we do not know what happens to it.’ The two main female characters in the movie dream to become ecologists and they are assigned an ecology project from college. ‘Becoming a successful ecologist is like pledging yourself to the environment. So Arohi and Nyra, the two main characters of my book, are challenged in a humongous way to overcome troubles thrown at them, as their every move is being watched’, she points out.
Sajini says she loves writing whenever she get ideas. ‘So, I always carry a book and a pen with me wherever I go. I also love writing on the bus, on the way to, and from school. I pen down ideas in school during my break time as well.’
How do she juggle her academic work with publishing books, AI internships and partaking in various literary competitions?
‘Normally I do not mix academics with all other activities that interest me. As for writing, I normally write after school hours, during bus travel, during weekends and during vacations.’
Sajini has received accolades for her academic achievements too.
‘She has received around 75 certificates since the age of 3 from school for her academic success,’ says her dad. ‘In extracurricular activities, she has accumulated around 200 plus certificates, in music, coding, and outside the school activities. We know it is a competitive world out there, so her focus in school is very important. But I can say she is an all-rounder, so we are letting her choose her path.’
What does the prolific, 11-year-old author do for fun?
While she is not thinking about the storyline of her next book, Sajini’s favourite pastimes include playing games like Black Shoes, Pictionary and Chopsticks, Monopoly, Housie and UNO with her friends. However, her favourite game to play is code breaker because it involves critical and logical thinking, according to the writer. ‘I love to crack challenging puzzles and codes in my alone time. With my family, I enjoy exploring the UAE. I also like to singing and playing the keyboard and I am passionate about learning the French language.’
How about hanging out at the mall like many kids today?
‘No, I don’t do that’, comes the quick reply.
Who are her mentors?
‘My parents are my first potential mentors, also my grandparents who motivate and encourage my passion to write books. My parents advise me to read a variety of books. My mentor when it comes to authors is Elisabetta Dami. What I learned from her is that I should write about adventures like having fun while also highlighting the importance of good values. From her, I learned that I could spread kindness, peace, harmony and human values through my writing to make the earth a wonderful place to live in.’
All my teachers, supervisors, Principal, and Vice Principal also support me in my writing journey. They love my work and launch my books in school and have also kept a copy in the school library.’