Answering the doorbell on a hot afternoon can be pleasant only if it is rung by a Flipcart/Amazon boy. He delivered two books written by the boy whose birthday is being celebrated by his innumerable fans today.
'With Love from the Hills' by Ruskin Bond looks like a picture book for three year olds. The moment I pulled the red thread attached to it, a window opened to a beautiful scenery straight from a kid's scrap book. I tried to hide it from my daughter who will be English Major soon but couldn't. Unable to supress her laughter she enquired, "What have you ordered ?" I guessed that the book was meant for very little ones. The book is written in a diary form in longhand font. It is as enjoyable as any book by him.
I never desired to meet the writers I love to read as he has already shared the best and worst moments of his life with me through his books. I feel closer to Bond sahib because he lives in a Garhwali household. He must be familiar with the language my parents and I speak. We grew up in the same city, Dehradun. As a kid he might have rubbed shoulders with my father in Paltan Bazar.
Whenever I alight at the Dehra railway station I think of the ten year old Ruskin sitting on a tin trunk all alone. Nobody came to receive him. He was back from his boarding school. He hired a tonga and reached his grandma's house where he was not welcomed. Immediately he was diverted to his mother and stepfather's house. How badly he would have missed his dear father whom he had lost only a few months back. Can there be anything more haunting?
I wonder why Ruskin Bond is called children's author. Would a ten year old relate to his writings, humour and little details the way I do? My children who are avid readers could never relate to his writings. They would ask, 'Would you accept jalebis from a stranger?" Like he does in one of his stories. And why he has to describe even the hedge of his house? How I love when he "describes the hedge of the house", because I have seen those hedges which are no longer seen in Dehra now. How would the kids living in multi-storeyed buildings know that a wind-storm sometimes blows the tin-roofs away and so many little things.
The books specially written for kids are gems. I gave my students, ' A long Walk for Bina' and they loved it. It talks about problems of migration, displacement and making of big dams and their ill effects on the wildlife of the surrounding area which they are studying in EVS.
Thank you Ruskin Bond for all the moments when while reading your books I'd smiled or was moved or had blurted 'Good", "Ha ha","Great", "Exactly","Right" "Sahi", and "he writes so well"!