The Man from the Room on the Roof – Peerless Journey of Ruskin Bond

Despite his Himalayan accomplishments and the accolades he has received over seven decades, creator of Rusty, he remains a loving, affable and friendly person.

By K. Sreenivasarao

Over the past two thousand years or so, the world has witnessed countless writers in all the languages of the world – some imperious in appearance and gigantic in impact, some soft and almost undetectable yet touching the hearts of millions, some masterfully narrating the tales of all kinds, some with the twist in the tails of their stories and yet others mysterious in appearance as well as in operation.

The world of humans has been enriched by each variety and our lives would have been barren had it not been there. More often than not, majority cannot put into words or share the most intimate experiences that one goes through, leave alone weaving wonderful tales.

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Image: Ruskin Bond (Source: https://www.ruskinbond.in/about-us)

One of the best storytellers of modern times and a legendary author in the Indian storytelling tradition is Ruskin Bond. He captivated generations of literary lovers with his stories laced with his love of Nature. His stories continue to energise the younger generation. At a time when Earth is slowly marching towards the massive sixth extinction, there is plenty of wisdom to be derived from his writings. It is no wonder, that his writings are largely based on a Himalayan setting, away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

But, to limit an extraordinary storyteller like Ruskin Bond to a single frame will be an unfortunate limitation that a critic imposes on oneself. Ruskin Bond crosses generic boundaries and is beyond limitations. Of course, the Himalayan landscape inspired him to great extent as they would inspire any nature lover.

The background may be a constant but stories of Ruskin Bond explore diverse themes. He was like a wonderful magician who sits in a palace with a single-window but unveils a different world whenever the window is opened. In this respect, he is akin to other master storytellers from many Indian languages who constantly write stories of middle-class families, enthralling and mesmerizing his readers with the unfolding of human drama, that is the same across the world in diverse circumstances.

Image: Notable books of Ruskin Bond

Beyond all tags and categorizations, Ruskin Bond is a humanist par excellence. Be it rural life or joys of childhood or the connection between man and Nature – whatever the themes or thoughts that each story of Ruskin Bond deals with,  the human being is at the center, driving home the point that one needs to explore human life in all its glory, triumphs and travails of humanity.

So, Ruskin Bond, his imaginative world, his stories and the lifelong relationship he is having with rural folks – all these are beyond mere love of Nature. And we are blessed to be living at the same time as Ruskin Bond, sharing his world and breathing the same air.

The unflinching fortitude of Nature underpins Ruskin Bond’s writings, that also reflects in his deep reverence for Nature and environment. Nature is a source of inspiration for Bond from which he actively churns out narratives and discourses for environmental conservation, emphasizing the importance of preserving the natural world for future generations. If there is one writer who has understood Sustainable Living and Sustainable Development and all that they entail, it is Ruskin Bond.

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Apart from transporting readers to different worlds, the stories of Ruskin Bond also have an additional social role. His writings reverberate with a soothing touch for troubled souls while also conjuring aesthetic delight in the hearts of such readers. This kind of mesmerizing effect can be seen only in a handful of writers and I would not hesitate to put Ruskin Bond on top of that list.

Image: Sahitya Akademi President Madhav Kaushik and Secretary K. Sreenivasarao presenting Ruskin Bond with the Sahitya Akademi Fellowship (Source: Supplied)

I had the good fortune of corresponding with this writer of such a towering stature for about a decade. Recently, I also had the privilege of meeting him in person and spending some time with him during the Sahitya Akademi investiture ceremony at his home in Mussoorie. I was swept away by his absolute simplicity, a complete absence of any pretense whatsoever.

Despite his Himalayan accomplishments and the accolades he has received over seven decades, creator of Rusty, he remains a loving, affable and friendly person. Name and fame have not managed to penetrate his head. It is not very often do we get to see that and experience bliss in someone’s presence, which explains why he enjoys such a mass adulation.

Image: Ruskin Bond (Source: Facebook)

So, what kind of writer Ruskin Bond is? I mentioned a variety of writers and personalities at the beginning of this article. He is a mesmerizer and amalgamation of all the writer types I mentioned. He is mysterious to mystery seeking, imperious to awe struck, soft to readers who seek romantic tales etc. Not rooted in any ideological certitude, Bond is a writer who celebrates and promotes humanism. I see him as a gentle colossus creative writer and, we will be failing in our life if we don’t pause for a while to appreciate and laud this gentle genius for his momentous contribution to Indian Writing in English, which is also available in a gamut of Indian languages. Life and posterity will be kind to us then.

Contributing Author: Dr K. Sreenivasarao is the Secretary of Sahitya Akademi and is a writer. He can be reached at secretary@sahitya-akademi.gov.in

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