For Ruskin India “The Land of Regrets” is a “Land of Acceptance”
Ruskin Bond is a prolific writer who has authored more than a hundred books of fiction, non-fiction and poetry in English. Students remember him for his stories for children. Born in Kassauli, now in Himachal Pradesh, he “grew up in Jamnagar, Delhi and Shimla.
His own autography Lone Fox Dancing is his latest addition to his literary trove. As a great story-teller Bond has excelled in telling his own life story faithfully, honestly and sincerely. He is non-sparing to the real characters in his life. He was the pampered son of his doting father born in England and mother, an Indian. He displays no mercy when he discusses his mother who later married another man, an Indian, in the hope of a better life, taking benefit of his father having had to be away in active service of the Royal Air Force.
Bond was sentimentally attached more to his father than to his mother. When it became obvious that UK would have to quit India, his father told Ruskin that we would go back to England although the latter was not enthusiastic. His father died of Malaria before the British left. Ruskin was at that time a hosteller studying in Bishop Cotton School (BCS), Shimla. “Ðaddy’s photograph is still on my desk”, he tells.
The title to his autography “Lone Fox Dancing” seems to have been inspired by the sight of “three or four red foxes” dancing one night. He “walked quietly down the path, not wanting to disturb them”. When “`he was half-way down”, he looked back from the dark, there was a single fox still dancing “in the diffused night”. That sight gave him a little poem and, later perhaps, inspired to give a title to his autobiography.
Feelings of love and affection did bloom in Ruskin’s life. But for the most eligible bachelor these couldn’t fructify into marriage because his father was no more and his mother had the least interest. In fact, there was no person who could pursue the matter with the parents of the girls in right earnest. He writes, “I could go looking for love. But you don’t love by searching for love”.
People adopted other’s sons or daughters but, strangely, Ruskin resigned himself into adopting the family of a faithful and honest caretaker with which he lives in Mussorie to lead life of a ‘lone fox dancing’.
Ruskin in those times, fancied to be a full-time writer to subsist on income good enough to lead a life satisfying to his nature and dreams. Despite many ups and downs today, he feels content in being a whole-time writer of prose, poetry, short story and novels, all in one with nothing else to do but to write and write for home and international newspapers and magazines. His narration is so vivid that reader finds himself standing and feeling the pain of sorrow and glee of happiness with him.
At the age of 17 in 1951 Ruskin went on a voyage to England. Yet he was emphatic. “I’ll come back”. There he “realised that I was Indian to the core and could be nothing else”.
After having been there for four years, Ruskin did keep his promise to return to the homeland. He wrote and wrote and finally came to stand on his own feet with whatever honorarium he received by getting published in the BBC, Illustrated Weekly of India and books of prose and poetry.
The love for India flows in his veins as does in the heart of other fellow citizens. “I realised”, he writes, ‘that I was Indian to the core, and could be nothing else.…I have loved it (India) and for the most part, it has loved me back”.
Describing his journey back home by train from London he writes, “Every click of the rails brought me closer to all that I had missed and was now coming back to reclaim as my own. I belonged to the hot sunshine and muddy canals, the banyan trees and the mango groves, the smell of wet earth after summer rain, the relief of a monsoon thunderstorm, the laughing brown faces. And the intimacy of human contact — that was what I had missed the most in England. …….I had no intension of going elsewhere, and as the land was full of all kinds of people of diverse origins, I decided I’d just be myself, all-Indian, even if it meant being a minority of one”.
‘Home’– that was the magnet, writes Ruskin. Not the ‘home’ of my mother and stepfather, but the larger home, that was India, where I could even feel free to be a failure. The Land of Regrets someone had called India, but for me it was a Land of Acceptance.
Lone Fox Dancing: My Autobiography
BY: Ruskin Bond
Published by: Speaking Tiger Publishing Private Limited
After his father’s death, he always wanted to be a man all by himself and not a parasite. Even when he lived with his mother and stepfather he would contribute whatever he earned by writing, however meagre it was. In London too, he wanted to live on whatever he earned. He never wanted to be a parasite.
At places, Ruskin sounds philosophical. The threat from North Korea had risen much after Ruskin published his autobiography, but his words sound prophetical when he says, “And if apricots could take precedence over missiles, the world would be full of promise too….I’m afraid science and politics have let us down. But the cricket still sings on the window-sill.”
Some of his works have made into movies. One such was Junoon by Syam Benegal and another one by Producer Vishal Bhardwaj.
The autobiography makes one glued to it till the last. Reading a review is nothing more than a trailer of a film. Full pleasure can be derived only by reading it and Lone Fox Dancing deserves it the most. We have read Ruskin write about others. Here is an opportunity to read what he writes about himself. For those who have enjoyed his other literary works, his autography remains as enjoyable as do his earlier woks. ***
By Amba Charan Vashishth