One of the most celebrated authors of all time, Ruskin Bond, turned 86 today. Bond whose books are filled with positivity, optimism and celebrates the ordinary life around, when asked about death he said, “The idea of death doesn’t scare me … I want to be reborn as a parrot on a mango tree”.
Not only his philosophies, but the simplicity is the essence in his literature as well, which goes beyond children and touches the lives of adults.
“People say this is my writing style; I have a calming influence (on readers). People say even when I write a ghost story they don’t get frightened. The ghosts are too friendly … I guess by and large, though I have my low moments, and I sometimes do feel a bit depressed, I have a cheerful nature, and I try to see the best in human beings and bring it out.”
True that. Reading Bond, allegories and metaphors indeed have a calming effect which can soothe our soul in times like this.
Here are the top 5 reads of Ruskin Bond which you should read if you haven’t already.
1. The Blue Umbrella, 1980 (Novella)
“The umbrella was like a flower,
a great blue flower that had sprung
up on the dry brown hillside”
Falls in the novella genre (a short novel), it is a story of a girl Binya who lived in the hills, exchanging her lucky leopard’s claw pendant for a beautiful blue umbrella that makes her the envy of everyone in the village. This story also features in Bond’s collection of short stories, ‘Children’s Omnibus’. It was also adapted into 2005 Hindi film by the same name, directed by Vishal Bhardwaj, which also bagged a National Film Award for Best Children’s Film.
2. Once You Have Lived with Mountains, 2017 (Novel)
“Walking home at midnight in Landour can be quite eventful … I have smelled without seeing it. I have seen jackals on the prowl. I have watched foxes dance in the moonlight. I have seen flying squirrels flit from one treetop to another. I have listened to the calls of nightjars, owls and other birds who live by night.”
Ruskin Bond himself grew up in the hills of Mussoorie, and this book is a sheer delight to read as it is full of hillside imageries such as pine trees, the sound of birds, river flowing through valleys and some reminiscences and anecdotes about his own life.
3. The Road to the Bazaar, 1980 (Short stories)
“At first, he felt lonely in the room. But then he discovered the power of the window …”
Set in Bond’s Dehra, this book is a delightful collection of short stories of Suraj, Ranji, Koki, Amir, Teju and friends. Through this collection, Bond brings to life the town in northern India and the lives of its children.
4. The Room on the Roof, 1956 (Partial Autobiography)
Written at the beginning of his career, Bond penned this novel when he was seventeen and won the John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial Prize in 1957. The story centres around the life of a young orphan Anglo-Indian boy living in Dehradun who is living with his English guardian in the claustrophobic European part of the town. It is a classic coming-of-age story.
5. Delhi is Not Far, 1994 (Novel)
This is a story of a struggling detective-fiction writer Arun who dreams of becoming a successful and renowned writer one day. On his way, he comes across a prostitute Kamla who becomes his inspiration to form a memorable story about people’s small lives and their big dreams.
Brownies for Readers:
If you’re lucky enough to be around Mussoorie, every Saturday Ruskin Bond visits Cambridge Book Depot (Mall Road) from 3:30 to 5:30 PM for a book signing.
Line up early as people are queuing up from all over the world to get their books signed.