Meeting the Bond with a twist was special
My first encounter with love occurred when my mother gifted me a collection of short stories of Ruskin Bond on my fifth birthday. I fell in love with Ruskin, whom I imagined to be a lonely boy living up in the mountains, waiting for me on his eastern window. I remember my sharp inclination to marry him, only because he would tell me stories each day of my life. How Ruskin and I would eat tikkis together, go for long walks in the hills, cycle in sunflower fields and play under mango, lemon and jackfruit trees; is all I daydreamed off.
I was born in an era when the internet had not taken a toll on men and women and books were all one desired for company. Being from a small town, situated on the foothills of the Shivaliks, there were rarely any other modes of entertainment besides storybooks. Every weekend, I would beseech my father to get me a Ruskin Bond book from his way back from Chandigarh. I adored the way Bond portrayed nature, subtle yet beautiful, poignant yet sharp. Besides the love for mountains, I shared with him the love for chaat.
At the tender age of 16, he won the illustrious John Llewellyn Rhys Prize. He was also awarded the Padma Shri and the Padma Bhushan for his contribution towards literature. Ruskin has been writing for seven decades, and I have been reading him for three decades.
When I joined my husband for his Dehradun posting, I was radiant, more for the fact that I will come face to face with the long lost love of my life, Ruskin Bond. After a lot of pestering, my Major Sahib succumbed to my demands, and one fine evening was dedicated to meeting Bond.
There I sat beside my husband, rehearsing how would I express my feelings for Bond. How should I address him? Will ‘sir’ be too old fashioned? My chain of thoughts halted or was it the car that halted. We were just 22 km out of Mussoorie and the car had broken down.
With the help of a nearby Maggi shop owner, my husband pushed the car to the side, clearing the road for other vehicles. He tried fixing the car. He seemed the villain preventing me from meeting my love. I sensed malice. I was puffing with anger and disappointment. After about half an hour, my husband called his unit for vehicle support and like a child is dragged away from his favourite toy, he towed me towards a restaurant. He sat there ordering my favourite menu, but my appetite was lost.
My husband, who I always thought knew no difference between Ruskin Bond and James Bond, pointed to the left. There it was, the most spectacular view of my life. Ascending hills, decorated with the wild and the wet green deodars, spread as far as my eyes could see. Sun rays beautifully necklaced these hills, slowly disappearing, making a solemn promise to the sky to meet again, tomorrow. The birds were nesting in the trees, a cool breeze was brushing the bushes and darkness was enveloping the winter sky. The trees seemed to know me and so did the birds.
I felt great joy on seeing all this, exactly like Bond described in his stories. I may not have met him that day, but I met the essence for which Ruskin Bond stands: the beauty of nature. I sat there nestled on the terrace restaurant, pulling my jacket a little closer, gazing towards the beauty of nature, spread across me.
And then, I heard Bond whispering in my ears, “People with good eyes often fail to see what is in front of them.”
This May 19 is the 84th birthday of Ruskin Bond. Wishing him a very happy birthday.
I HEARD RUSKIN BOND WHISPERING IN MY EARS, “PEOPLE WITH GOOD EYES OFTEN FAIL TO SEE WHAT IS IN FRONT OF THEM.”