Sundarrajk's Weblog

Night Train at Deoli: And Other Stories by Ruskin Bond

Posted on: August 25, 2015

Night Train at Deoli: And Other StoriesNight Train at Deoli: And Other Stories by Ruskin Bond
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A classic Ruskin Bond. The stories are simple yet touch one’s heart and makes one yearn for the peaceful, serene hills.

In the story of the leopard the author describes how he builds a silent relationship with the leopard with each respecting the other’s presence without malice. And then come the hunters asking for if there is a leopard and they manage to snare and kill it. On their way back the meet the author and tell him with all pride that they have hunted down the leopard. The author ends the story with these lines “I walked home through the silent forest. It was very silent, almost as though the birds and animals knew their trust had been violated. I remembered the lines of a poem by D. H. Lawrence; and, as I climbed the steep and lonely path to my home, the words beat out their rhythm in mind: ‘There was a room in the world for a mountain lion and me’. Man no longer seems to think so. It is sad that man wants to have all land for himself.

In the story ‘Kitemaker’ the author describes an old kite maker, who is longer in demand, use his skills to entertain his grandson. Watching his grandson closely the Kitemaker is gladdened “to watch the small boy at play in winter sunshine, growing under his eyes like a young and well-nourished sapling putting forth new leaves each day.” The author opines there is a great affinity between trees and men. We grow at much the same pace, if we are not hurt or starved or cut down. In our youth we are resplendent creatures, and in our declining years we stoop a little, we remember, we, stretch our brittle limbs in the sun, and then, with a sigh, we shed our last leaves. The old man was like the banyan, his hands gnarled and twisted like the roots of the ancient tree. The young boy was like the mimosa planted at the end of the courtyard. In two years both he and the tree would acquire the strength and confidence of their early youth.

In the story “Death of a Familiar” the author relates about how the death of an acquaintance leads the protagonist to reminiscence about the relationship that he hand maintained with the one who was murdered earlier in the life. At one place he describes the victim thus “He was a product of the partition, of the frontier province, of Anglo-Indian public schools, of films Indian and American, of medieval India, knights in armour, hippies, drugs, sex-magazines and subtropical Terai. Had he lived in the times of Mughal, he might have governed a province with saturnine and spectacular success. Being born into the 20th century, he was but a juvenile delinquent.”
At the end of the story the author has this to state about interest humans take in a life lost to violence. “Though murder cases usually get reported in the papers, Sunil was a person of such little importance that his violent end was not considered newsworthy. It went unnoticed, and Maureen could not have known about it. The case has already been forgotten, for in the great human mass that is India, hundreds of people disappear every day and are never heard of again. Sunil will be quickly forgotten by all except those to whom he owed money.” A sad state of affairs and we call ourselves humans and talk about “humanity”. Humanity is an irony.

A must read for all Ruskin Bond fans and a good read for the others.

View all my reviews

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