Jamshedpur: The chill in the winter air at the Centre for Excellence unfolding the Jharkhand Literary Meet, turned warm and intimate once the legendary Ruskin Bond entered the open air arena to narrate his story of the creative climb in the company of the self-assured Malavika Banerjee who prodded the celebrity writer to speak on some known and many unknown features of his life and experiences through 65 years of creating novels, short stories, non-fiction and poetry making him a man for all seasons on the literary firmament.
Starting with his first novel, ‘The Room on the Roof’ at the age of 17 years, he went on to become an all time favorite among children and parents who have grown up with his creations, Ruskin remains an unassuming person who is “Shy of too much interest.” Perhaps, Chanakya Chaudhary, Tata Steel Vice President summed it up crisply when he said, “You (Ruskin Bond) have played an important role in guiding generations of your readers who continue to grow with the newer children coming under the sun.”
Ruskin Bond, in the company of Chanakya Chaudhary, at the start of the foray into the celebrity author’s life, philosophy and work, released a compilation, ‘After Words.’ Then it was all the way with Bond and Malavika through an hour and more of a journey that was at the same time, interesting, awe-inspiring and inspiring.
Ruskin Bond unwrapped the glimpses of his experience with his witty observations that made the engrossing proceedings more entertaining. For instance, he mentioned some pranks during his school days. “Well, I was there all locked up in the library which happened mostly due to some prank or the other. I was so irritated that I scribbled a story sort of piece in which I curse3d the school principal and his wife.
Somehow, this piece of my ‘creativity’ reached the principal’s hand. My mates warned me that the principal’s caning really hurt and they advised me to push books at all the right places. So I tucked a few in those right places. When I entered the principal’s office, I was all properly ‘stocked.’ The first cane stroke landed on the spot and the principal knew of ‘our ways.’ He asked me to take out the book which was Shakespeare’s ‘As You Like It.’
“But, it was at the library that allowed me to look through books and that is perhaps where my literary bent took birth,” he said.
The litterateur confessed that it was his disturbed childhood that “Helped me a long way in writing for children.” His short and long stories for children have subtle touches of sentiments and humor that engross even elderly readers.
Bond observed that since he started writing at a very young age, several rejections of his work were returned. But it was his persistence and perseverance that kept him ‘at it.’ “There were very few publishers in India except for text books and writers like RK Narayan and Mulk Raj Anand had to look beyond the shores of India to get their works published.
This state of affairs continued right through the 70s of the last millennium. An International Book Fair was organized sometime during 1969 but the whole affair was organized in a medium-sized hall. But things started looking up from the 80s and many publishers, both indigenous and foreign came up and authors thus got a shot in the arm.”
He advised upcoming authors not to be demoralized by rejections from publishing houses and to take such setbacks in their stride and come back with greater determination.
When asked by Malavika about the various themes, subjects and the wide-ranging age groups of readers that he successfully caters to, the magician of words stated, “I work on different genres simultaneously. When I feel like a break from something I am writing, I shift to another piece of composition I am doing. This keeps me interested.”
One great thing the audience learnt was that Ruskin Bond still writes with a ball pen on a note pad.
The Indian author of British descent is considered to be an icon among Indian writers and children’s authors. He has now over 120 titles in print comprising novels, collection of stories, poetry, essays anthologies and other creative marvels.
Among his novels, A Flight Of Pigeons (Junoon) and ‘Saat Khoon Maaf’ on his work have been outstanding. “I have never written for films. But if a director likes the story for celluloid adaptation, then it becomes a story from his perspective,” he said. When reading Ruskin Bond, you realize that the appeal of any story lies in the simplicity of writing style and depth of the subject matter.
The son of Aubrey Bond and Edith Clarke, Ruskin was born on May 19, 1934. He did his schooling in Bishop Cotton School. He is the recipient of Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri awards. He has also been honored with the Sahitya Academy Award on two occasions, for his other literary masterpieces as also for his children’s stories. ‘The Room on the Roof’ his first novel as a 17 year old received the John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial Prize in 1957.
Ruskin ‘Mesmerizing’ Bond lives with his adopted family in Landor, Mussoorie.