Ruskin Bond is regarded as one of the best Indian English-language authors. For the past six decades, his extensive range of short stories, novels, essays, poetry, travelogues, and articles in newspapers and journals has inspired many young writers. Ruskin Bond is most known as a children’s storey writer, but he has dabbled in a number of genres, including ghost stories, ‘odes to nature,’ and unrequited love stories. His writing career gained him acclaim, honours, and several awards, including the Sahitya Academy Award (1992), the Padma Shri (1991), and the Padma Bhushan (2014).
The Life and Time of Ruskin Bond
Ruskin Bond, born on 19 May 1934 in Kasauli to Anglo-Indian parents Aubrey Alexander Bond and Edith Dorothy Clerke, had a less than normal childhood, as did other Anglo-Indian children his age. By the age of 10, Bond had lived among princes and princesses in Jamnagar (Gujarat), studied in a boarding school in Dehradun, saw his parents’ separation and divorce, and learned of his father’s death while still in school. All of these experiences shaped his storytelling for the rest of his life. His favourite childhood memories were his father’s loving devotion, his motherly ayah, his gardener named Dukhi, and the thousands of books he read. Alice in Wonderland was his first novel, and it is still his favourite. Rudyard Kipling, Charles Dickens, Emily Bronte, Graham Greene, and Agatha Christie were other favourites. All of the events left a lasting imprint on Bond’s impressionable mind.
Ruskin Bond was well-known as a remarkable debater, athlete, and writer at his school, Bishop Cotton School in Shimla. Despite being an ordinary academic student, his literary aptitude was recognised as early as 1948, when he won the Anderson Essay Prize. He was the only student in the school’s history to win the same prize three years in a row. In fact, his name is inscribed in the school’s literary and intellectual Hall of Fame. Bond, in addition to writing, was a member of the school’s football team and won several prizes for his goalkeeping abilities.
Bond moved to England for additional education after finishing his schooling. There he finished and published his first novel, The Room on the Roof. He was awarded the John Llewelyn Rhys Memorial Prize as a result of this (1957).
Bond had spent four years in England, but his heart was in India, where he had been born and had spent some of his most precious days. He made the decision to return. He felt more at ease around “peepal trees” on the slopes than “apple orchards” in the countryside, and he preferred a life with the Indian people than the refinement of British citizens. In his article On Being an Indian, he frames his bond with India as one of “history,” rather than “race” or “religion.”
Influences on the Author’s Writing
Ruskin Bond has almost 500 published works under his name throughout the last six decades of his writing career. Many of his pieces first appeared in newspapers and journals. He is also one of the few Indian authors whose stories have been collected and re-collected in anthologies and collections. Many of his stories are taught in schools. When asked how he reacted when youngsters approached him and informed him they had read his stories in their textbooks, he joked that he would apologise to them!
Among his most well-known works are the following:
✒️ Our Trees Still Grow in Dehra, Time Stops at Shamli, Funny Side Up, A Town Called Dehra, The Night Train at Deoli, and The Adventures of Rusty are all short tale collections.
✒️ Novels such as The Blue Umbrella, Delhi is Not Far, Vagrants in the Valley, Once Upon a Monsoon Time, A Flight of Pigeons, and Roads to Mussourie
✒️ Scenes from a Writer’s Life and A Lamp is Lit are autobiographical writings.
✒️ A Season of Ghosts and Ghost Stories from the Raj are two examples of ghost stories.
✒️ Poems such as Lone Fox Dancing, It Is not Time That Passes, and To Live in Magic
The stories of Ruskin Bond have also been made into films. Junoon (based on A Flight of Pigeons) by Shyam Benegal, Saath Khoon Maaf (based on Susanna’s Seven Husbands) and The Blue Umbrella (based on a book with the same title) both by Vishal Bhardwaj are some of the renowned films based on his writings. Bond did, in fact, work with Bhardwaj on the film The Blue Umbrella.
The majority of Bond’s writing is thought to be semi-autobiographical. Many of his protagonists’ moms were separated from them, while their fathers were adored, and the gardeners were modelled after Dukhi. The animals and natural aspects mentioned are based on his observations of Himalayan flora and fauna during his lifetime. The themes of his writings are inspired by his friendships and ties with the locals, as well as his favourite town, Dehradun, which he affectionately refers to as Dehra.
In an interview, Bond stated his life’s credo, “[L]ife is fleeting.” So one should grasp the moment and gain as much true happiness out of life as possible, from friendships, loving relationships, and from things that offer you pleasure, whether they be books, films, or any other type of cognitively stimulating gratification.”