Ruskin Bond continues to weave a magic spell on his readers with his stories, but the veteran writer feels "stumped and stymied"
Ruskin Bond continues to weave a magic spell on his readers with his stories, but the veteran writer feels “stumped and stymied” by the thought of writing about politicians or media tycoons saying he cannot “breathe life” into these subjects.
For the author of scores of novels, memoirs, short story collections and books of essays and poetry, writing is easy if he’s happy with his theme.
“Ask me to write a piece on petunias and I’ll turn out an enthusiastic essay on this underrated flower. I might even write a story on someone who grows petunias, because such a person must obviously have sterling qualities…
“But ask me to write the story of a political leader or media tycoon and I’m stumped and stymied. Those little drops of blood threaten to appear,” the 80-year-old author, awarded the Padma Bhushan in 2014, says.
According to Bond, he “cannot breathe life into these subjects”, noble though they might be.
“Their true personalities, the essence of their natures, somehow elude me. It is not that they are too complicated, but rather that one has to peel off too many layers of protective armour to get at the flesh and blood that lies beneath the skin,” he says.
These views find mention in Bond’s new book “A Book of Simple Living: Brief Notes from the Hills,” a personal diary of sorts.
Published by Speaking Tiger, the book records the many small moments that constitute a life of harmony with the self, the natural world, and friends, family and passersby.
Bond says for most part of his life, he “followed instinct rather than intelligence, and this has resulted in a modicum of happiness”.
The Kasauli-born writer, who has settled in Mussoorie with his adopted family, says he loves his life passionately and wishes it could go on and on.
“But all good things must come to an end, and when the time comes to make my exit, I hope I can do so with good grace and humour. But there is time yet, and many small moments to savour,” he says.His relationship with the natural world has sustained and inspired him over the years.
“It is a relationship that has grown stronger and more meaningful ever since I came to live in the hills half a century ago,” he writes.
“Governments rise and fall, machines rust away, great buildings crumble, but mountains still stand, rivers flow to the sea, and the earth is clothed with grass and verdure,” he contends.
He has a special liking for flowers saying they “sustain and stimulate”.
“Be it a rose or a chrysanthemum or a simple daisy, I will help me in my work. The flowers are there to remind me that life has its beautiful moments.”
His preference, though is for wild flowers as “most things that will not be tamed are more appealing than those eager to please”.
Bond thinks he has been able to lead life without being any man’s slave or tyrant as he loves his art.
“I doubt I have ever written a story or essay or workaday article unless I have really wanted to write it. And in this way I have probably suffered materially, because I have never attempted a blockbuster of a novel, or a biography of a celebrity or a soap opera. But in the end things have worked out well. I am a writer without regrets, and that is no small achievement,” he writes.
As a writer, he says, he had difficulty in doing justice to momentous events, the wars of nations, the politics of power.
“I am more at ease with the dew of the morning, the sensuous delights of the day, the silent blessings of the night, the joys and sorrows of children, the strivings of ordinary folk, and of course, the ridiculous situations in which we sometimes find ourselves.”