Don’t be afraid of the dark, little one
The earth must rest when the day is done
The sun may be harsh, but moonlight -never!
As a child, these lines were always in the back of my mind. A legendary children’s author Ruskin Bond has enthralled the children for decades and generations. Most of us will remember watching Ek Tha Rusty on Doordarshan. The serial always transported me to the valleys. It also made me crave to read other works by Ruskin Bond.
Ruskin Bond’s wrote his first short story “Untouchable” when he was sixteen and has been writing till date. He is an Indian author of foreign descent. His books depict the simplicity of language which makes the stories more interesting and the lucid description makes a story alive.
We bring 9 best stories by Ruskin Bond that capture the pure essence of human life and behavior and are a must-read.
#9 A Flight of Pigeons
One of his most popular stories, A flight of the pigeons is set during the Revolt of 1857. The head of the Labadoor is killed in the church. To protect rest of the family, the matriarch of the family, Miriam Labadoor seeks shelter at Labadoor’s trusted friend, Lala Ramjimal. One of the revolutionaries, Javed Khan, gets to know about a British family staying at the Lala’s house. He forcibly enters the house takes the Labadoor’s family with him. He slowly begins to fall in love with Miriam’s daughter, Ruth and proposes to her. Miriam is not happy with the match tells Javed that if British win the war then he may marry Ruth. In the the British are able to take over the country and as promised Javed lets go of Ruth. In the end, Labadoor family returns to England.
#8 Delhi is not Far
Delhi is not far is a story of residents of Pipal Nagar. A small quiet town where there is not much to do. Most residents of the town dream of moving to Delhi. One of the residents, Arun is the narrator of the story. Arun is fiction writer who finds solace in the company of a prostitute, Kamla. His room mate and companion, Suraj also falls in love with Kamla. Will Arun make it big? Read the book to travel to Pipal Nagar and find what happens with Arun, Suraj and Kamla.
#7 The Blue Umbrella
The story scripted back in 1980 depicts the perfect mix of children and their emotions while dealing with their desires. Binya is an 8 year old girl who trades her leopard claw necklace for a beautiful blue umbrella. Soon the umbrella becomes the desire of village’s shopkeeper, Ram Bharose. He tries to buy the umbrella but Binya refuses to sell her umbrella. The winter arrives and Ram Bharose hires a help, Rajaram. Rajaram offers to steal the umbrella for Ram Bharose but unfortunately Rajaram gets caught and he gives away shopkeer’s name. As a result, villagers stop coming to Ram Bharose’s shop. Binya realizing her mistake, gives her umbrella to Ram Bharose who in return gives her bear claw necklace. The book has also been adapted into a movie.
#6 The Night Train at Deoli
A personal favorite; the night train at Deoli brings out the feeling of love at the tender age at it’s best. The narrator of The Night Train at Deoli visits his grandmother every summer. His train stops at Deoli for 10 minutes. A small and peaceful town, no one ever gets down at Deoli or take a train. On one such journey, the narrator meets a young girl selling a cane basket. After her continuous insisting, the narrator buys the basket from her. The train leaves with both of them waving good bye. On his return journey, when the narrator looks for the girl she is nowhere to be seen. Years pass but the narrator does not come across the little girl.
#5 The Room on the Roof
Through this book, Ruskin has also penned events from his own life, including the room on the roof, where he spent his days as a child. This was also the book that introduced Rusty to the world. Rusty is a 16 year old boy who lives with Mr. & Mrs. Harrison. Tired of Mr. Harrison, Rusty decides to run away from home. He becomes friends with Somi, Ranbir and Suri. Somi helps Rusty get a job at Mr. Kapoor’s. Rusty soon falls in love with Mr. Kapoor’s wife, Meena and also becomes Kishen’s friend. Unfortunately, Meena dies in a car accident and Mr. Kapoor re-marries and moves to Haridwar. Rusty continues to stay in the room on the roof with Meena’s memories.
#4 Time Stops at Shamli
Another classic by Ruskin Bond, Time Stops at Shamli is about a small village Shamli. On his way to visit his relatives in Saharanpur, the narrator gets down at Shamli. The tonga wallah takes him to a guest house. The cook, Daya Ram, gives him a room to stay for a day. At breakfast, he meets other boarders – Mr. Lin and Ms. Deeds as well as the manager, Mr. Dayal. After the breakfast he goes out to rest under the tree. Soon he falls asleep, when he wakes up; he meets his love Sushila. They spend some time together and next day, the narrator leaves for Saharanpur.
#3 A Tiger in the House
One of my favorite short stories by Ruskin Bond, this short story depicts the relationship of trust between a human and animal. The narrator is a young boy whose grandfather brings cub home. The cub is named Timothy by the grandfather. Initially, Timothy is sweet and behaves like a cat but as he grows he becomes aggressive. Soon he starts stalking the cook of the house and unfortunately, grandfather decides to take him to zoo. After six months when grandfather goes to visit Timothy, the tiger keeps licking grandfather’s hand. The grandfather notices that the tiger is scared of the leopard. He asks the caretaker to move the tiger away from leopard when it is revealed to him that his Timothy had died of pneumonia. The tiger he thought of Timothy was caught in a jungle.
#2 The Skeleton in the Cupboard
The fiction lists the unreleased stories of Bond often compiled with other short stories in the book called “SECRET”. It expresses a young boy’s detective quotient and enthusiasm of people around him. The narrator is a young boy who lives in a boarding school and his mother manages a hotel in Dehradun. The mother writes to her son monthly. During one of these exchanges, the narrator’s mother tells the boy that they found a skeleton in store room’s cupboard. The duo begin to unravel the mystery of the skeleton and the skeleton is found to be of Mrs. Green. The skeleton is given a burial. The boy returns home for summer vacation when a lady walks into his mother’s office and reveals herself to Mrs. Green.
#1 The Cherry Tree
The short story portrays a boy and his cherry tree, how the tree survives through different circumstances. The narrator of the cherry tree is a 6 year old boy, Rakesh who lives with his grandfather in Mussoorie. The boy’s parents live in a village. One day while returning from the school, the boy buys cherries for himself for 50 paisa. When he comes home, his grandfather suggests him to sow the seed. The boy soon forgets about the tree. The winter pass and the seed sprouts. Rakesh notices a 4 inches plant. The cherry tree continues to grow.
These were just some of the popular short stories by Ruskin Bond. Travel back to India after Independence with Ruskin Bon’s short stories. Happy reading!!