“Ruskin bond at his best in this heart touching memoir of his father. Full of nostalgic episodes and an emotional ending that will soak your eyes in tears, this book is one of the best books on child and father relationship.”
NO MAJOR SPOILERS
This is the story of a boy who learnt to be on his own at the age of eight when other children had their homes and families. But Ruskin Bond’s story of loneliness began in the middle of a War when his parents were also at war. When truce was declared in his parents’ marriage through divorce, he chose to be with his father during his holidays. Bond is very straight about the fact that his father was the only person he loved as begins to leaf through his memories.
He describes a time spent in Delhi watching movies, drinking chocolate shakes and leafing through his father’s stamp collection, while his father was on duty in the cyphers division where he worked. In the middle of that his father went down with malaria and he found himself on his own in the two rooms where they lived. Even though it was only for two days, he learnt to rely on himself and to make friends with the boys on the street, regardless of what his ‘upper caste’ English landlord and landlady thought. These are trends that would recur through his writing life. And perhaps the fact that his father fell ill and left him alone was also prophetic.
Bond also describes his school in Simla with the expected cast of teachers and fellow students, some of who appear in other forms in his stories and the backdrop of nature in all its beauty. He uses the changing seasons to describe the change that comes slowly into his life – as the saying goes; life is what happens while you’re making other plans. There is no bitterness in his narrative, just a simple statement of fact and a rainbow never achieved. Children of broken homes will certainly respond as will those who understand what it means to lose the only parent they ever loved.
Illustrations of the young Bond have their own contribution to make to the story as cheerful and wholesome as the child’s happy days.
Added 24th June 2017