In the picturesque hills of Mussorie and Dehradun, a charming young lad named Rusty enthralled us all with his vivid imagination and extraordinary tales. For decades, he took us on his best and most exciting escapades. Inspired by Rusty the Lion from Panchatantra, the boy soon became our best friend. In certain ways, Rusty’s friends and adventures paralleled Ruskin Bond’s own experiences as a young boy. And, it comes as no surprise that the author attempts to visualise and recreate in his works a world sans worry; a world where the innocence of childhood brings joy to every soul; a world where reality becomes fiction and fiction becomes reality. With his latest book, Bond strives to merge the two sides and tell the story of a lifetime. City Express catches up with the author who was in town to launch The Adventures of Rusty at Crossword bookstore, Fraser Town recently.
Consisting of some of the most evergreen classic stories, the book is a tale of friendship, love and trust. Rusty did not have any siblings growing up rather he was always surrounded by an assortment of exotic animals comprising Toto — the monkey, a tortoise, a python and a Great Indian horn bill. Living with his grandparents in Dehradun, Rusty was fascinated with everything around him. In fact, The Adventures of Rusty is all about his journey of discovering a new India with his friends. Be it looking for wild flowers with old Miss Mackenzie, running away with Daljit or getting into trouble with Sitaram, the sensitive and lonely boy places his trust on friendship. With these experiences, he nurtures each relationship
with care and affection.
In almost all of his literary works, Bond’s stories share a deep love for nature and people. Through his writings, he evokes a sense of nostalgia and captures the passion of a young mind.
Who can forget his most famous lines from The Room on the Roof — But the trees seemed to know me. They whispered among themselves and beckoned me nearer. And looking around, I noticed the other small trees and wild plants and grasses had sprung up under the protection of the trees we had placed there. The trees had multiplied! They were moving. In one small corner of the world, Grandfather’s dream was coming true and the trees were moving again. “What really fascinates me about writing is the whole creative aspect of it. Stories of fantasy stimulates every child’s imagination. And, I really enjoy writing them. I have always admired Rudyard Kipling’s work too. He was one of those people who was madly in love with India,” said Ruskin Bond.
So, will the mischievous yet adorable Rusty ever visit Bangalore? asked eager fans at the launch. “Oh Rusty is getting old now. I don’t know if he will,” signed off the author.
The life and works of Bond
His works has inspired several generations of writers, authors and scriptwriters. His novel named “The Flight of Pigeons” has been adapted into the acclaimed Merchant Ivory film Junoon. Another less known novel named The Room on the Roof has been adapted in to a BBC-produced TV series. Nevertheless his greatest achievement comes from the fact that several of his short stories from his collections have been incorporated in the school curriculum all over India. It includes jewels such as The Night Train at Deoli, Time Stops at Shamli, and Our Trees Still Grow in Dehra. In spite of all these successes, Bond can be concluded today as a media-shy and reclusive literary genius.
He spends his days with his adopted family at a place close to Dehradun. He received the Sahitya Akademi Award for English writing in India for Our Trees Still grows in Dehra in 1992. He has also been conferred with Padma Shri, one of the most prestigious civil awards in India.