23 September 2023

How prayer, and more than a little luck made first-time author's dream come true

| Sally Hopman
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Sukhraj Singh with Amanda Van Der Hoeven

Sukhraj Singh with Majura Park Costco’s warehouse manager Amanda Van Der Hoeven, who has been one of his greatest supporters. Photo: Supplied.

Sukhraj Singh, who describes himself as a religious man, reckons it’s a miracle.

He was working his shift at the Majura Park Costco store in Canberra when he recognised the multinational company’s CEO, Patrick Noone, come through the checkout.

Mr Singh, whose shift that day was to check customers’ dockets as they left the store, greeted Mr Noone, introduced himself and the two started chatting.

“I couldn’t believe it, here was the big boss coming towards me with his trolley,” he said. “I knew that whatever he says, everyone listens.

“He was so nice. He asked me how I was and something in me felt that it was the right moment to ask if I could talk to him.

“He didn’t know me, but he looked at me, at my badge and said, ‘Well, what about now?'”

Mr Singh said he felt at that moment God had answered his prayer.

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His prayer was for Costco to sell his book, Kirna, which he felt he had been destined to write all his life. And what better place than in one of the world’s largest retail outlets?

Kirna is a story about reincarnation, but with a modern twist encompassing mystery, kinship, love, betrayal and vengeance.

“Mr Noone said to me, ‘come outside and we’ll talk’.

“I told him I was a writer and he congratulated me on writing the book. I told him I had tried to get Costco to sell the book here but I was unlucky.”

When the CEO returned to the store the next day, Mr Singh gave him a copy of the book. The next day, Mr Singh received an email saying Costco would sell the book in store.

“It was a miracle,” he said. “I had been praying for something like this to happen and it has.

“I’m just an average guy, I’m 41. I’m not a celebrity person. When I told my son he started jumping all over the couch and then he went to school and told all his friends.”

Display of books

Sukhraj Singh’s book Kirna takes pride of place in the Costco display of best sellers. Photo: Supplied.

It has been a long road for Mr Singh to get to Australia from his native Punjab in India in 2008 and to Canberra from 2011 when he started work at Costco. A Sikh, he returned to India to marry in 2013. When that didn’t work out, he suffered health issues – and writing proved his salvation.

He said the idea for a novel had been “going around in my head for forever”.

As a young man growing up in India, his parents encouraged him to write: “I have always believed I can entertain people.”

Not confident of his English writing skills, Mr Singh opted to write his book by hand and send it back to India for an accurate translation.

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“I have written this book as a gift for Australia because this country has given so much to me,” he said.

Mr Singh’s good news spread around the Costco store as quickly as its food samples disappear at lunchtime.

He said he received great support from his colleagues, particularly warehouse manager Amanda Van Der Hoeven, with many keen to read his book. More than 100 copies have already been sold at the Canberra store.

“One woman told me she couldn’t sleep until she finished it,” he said. “While another said it gave her goosebumps.”

Kirna is the first book by a Costco employee to be sold in the stores – across Australia and New Zealand.

It is published by Austin Macauley

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