A Message from Ruskin Bond

On Children’s Day, 14 November 2022, author Ruskin Bond’s message to the children went viral on Instagram. Here’s what he said: “Hello, Happy Children’s Day! It’s freezing up here in Mussoorie. I’ve got my muffler out. We have some lovely sunny weather. But today the clouds came and we might get some rain. It’s so good to know that I’ve so many friends and readers on Instagram and I take this opportunity to say Hello, Good Morning! Have a great year. Have a great year next year and the year after that. Hang on to your dreams. Pursue the things you want to do in life with passion, with vigour. Build castles in the air but put foundations under them. I wish you all success in your school, in your college, in your exams, in your career later on, and I hope to stay in touch with you a little longer.”

The latter half of this short, wonderful message instantly buoyed me up. It’s such exhortations in many of Bond’s stories that inspired me to embark on an hour’s walk on quite a few occasions from the hotel at Mall Road to his cottage in Landour high up in the hills. Sure, it often left me breathless trudging up the steep slopes, but that’s the only way to find his presence etched deep into the mountain rocks that have cradled him all his life.

I’d meet him in late afternoon when the hills surrounding his cottage were still bathed in golden rays of the setting sun, and come out with the peeping moon just over the hillcrest beyond, his cottage facing east.

Ruskin bond, when in his teens, knew that he was not born to lead a conventional life. He was prepared, right from the days of his lonely childhood, to sacrifice everything, in order to do justice to his incredible itch for writing. The extraordinary degree of his love for the art of writing has now determined the great writer that he is.

In the story “Bus Stop, Pipalnagar” he said: “Moods and moments are for geniuses, it’s really a matter of working hard.” So he gave up his jobs and settled in Mussoorie with “the freedom to live in a poverty of my own choosing, the freedom of the writer.”

His endless auto-suggestions not to get distracted by any personal problem and write, write and only write are apt to strike a chord in the hearts of all the budding writers. For instance, in “What’s Your Dream”, Bond, through his shadow-twin, shows the way to creative freedom: “You must work for your dream, and move towards it all the time, and discard all those things that come in the way of finding it, and then, if you don’t expect too much too quickly, you’ll find your freedom”.

In the Introduction to Time Stops at Shamli, a collection of his short stories, Bond writes: “I have nearly always enjoyed myself in my writing. And if some of that enjoyment has been conveyed to the readers, then I have achieved what I set out to do and no prizes are solicited.”

Bond, in fact, has achieved a great deal more than what he once set out to do.

First published in The Statesman

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