By: Dr. Mohammad Aleem, Editor-ICN Group
NEW DELHI: Very a few Indian writers could surpass the popularity as a writer of children’s books as Ruskin Bond could. Since the last fifty years, he did the same as a writer and as a professional. His dedication towards his writing is so immense that nothing could distract him from it, ever. He penned dozens of books with the same passion and zeal.
He passed almost his whole eighty years of his life in exploring India through his literature. Love of nature is strong in him that he wrote petsistently on this subject. He also chose his abode in the lap of mother nature. Massoorie, hill town of Uttarakhand is the permanent home town of him for the last many deades. His followers are millions in number, both adult and children.Most of his works are influenced by life in the hill station at the foothills of the Himalayas, where he spent his childhood. His first novel, The Room On the Roof, was written when he was 17 and published when he was 21.
The Indian Council for Child Education has recognised his role in the growth of children’s literature in India. He got the Sahitya Academy Award in 1992 for Our Trees Still Grow in Dehra, for his published work in English. He was awarded the Padma Shri in 1999 and Padma Bhushan in 2014.
Bond spent his early childhood in Jamnagar (Gujarat) and Shimla. At the age of ten, Ruskin went to live at his grandmother’s house in Dehradun after his father’s death that year from jaundice. Ruskin was raised by his mother and stepfather. He did his schooling from Bishop Cotton School in Shimla, from where he graduated in 1950 after winning several writing competitions in the school including the Irwin Divinity Prize and the Hailey Literature Prize.
He wrote one of his first short stories, “Untouchable”, at the age of sixteen in 1951.He worked for a few years freelancing from Delhi and Dehradun. He sustained himself financially by writing short stories and poems for newspapers and magazines.Since 1963 he has lived as a freelance writer in Mussoorie, a town in the Himalayan foothills in Uttarakhand and lives with his adoptive family in Landour, Mussoorie’s Ivy Cottage, which has been his house since 1980.
The 1978 Bollywood film Junoon is based on Bond’s historical novella A Flight of Pigeons (about an episode during the Indian Rebellion of 1857). It was produced by Shashi Kapoor and directed by Shyam Benegal. The Rusty stories have been adapted into a Doordarshan TV series Ek Tha Rusty. Several stories have been incorporated in the school curriculum in India, including The Night Train at Deoli, Time Stops at Shamli and Our Trees Still Grow in Dehra.
In 2005, the Bollywood director Vishal Bhardwaj made a film based on his popular novel for children, The Blue Umbrella. The movie won the National Award for Best Children’s film.
Ruskin Bond made his maiden big screen appearance with a cameo in Vishal Bhardwaj’s film 7 Khoon Maaf in 2011, based on his short story Susanna’s Seven Husbands. Bond appears as a Bishop in the movie with Priyanka Chopra playing the title role.Bond had earlier collaborated with Bharadwaj in the The Blue Umbrella which was also based on one of his works.
Do not be Afraid of the Dark.
Don’t be afraid of the dark, little one,
The earth must rest when the day is done.
The sun must be harsh, but moonlight – never!
And those stars will be shining forever and ever,
Be friends with the Night, there is nothing to fear,
Just let your thoughts travel to friends far and near.
By day, it does seem that our troubles won’t cease,
But at night, late at night, the world is at peace.