Jainand Gurjar reviews Ruskin Bond’s My India, Longing and Belonging (Publishing by Rupa Publications, 2023)
India has celebrated its 77th Independence Day this year, marking 76 years of freedom. A freedom that came from people of diverse dimensions, ideologies, thinking, working, and living, and yet bound by the idea of oneness, togetherness, collective consciousness, of “Unity in Diversity”. This book by Ruskin Bond celebrates that unity.
My India, Longing, and Belonging by Ruskin Bond is an anthology of stories and essays, divided into five sections: ‘People of India’, ‘Places of India’, ‘On the Road in India’, ‘Rivers of India’ and ‘Trees of India’. Each of these segments explores different aspects of the country that inspired the author enough to capture it through words.
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Ruskin Bond and His Writing
I have not had the chance to see the beauty of the whole of India itself through my eyes, but I can see it through Ruskin Bond’s words. His stories, anecdotes, musings, or micro tales, offer a view that transports us to that place or person.
The book beautifully shows the serenity of the Himalayas, the chaos of Agra, or the sacredness of Ganga, and it feels like using the Dokodemo Door, also known as The Anywhere Door that the popular cartoon character Doraemon owns, that transports us to any place in the world.
Ruskin Bond in his unique style creates magic with his words in this collection, or should I say shows us the magic that’s already around us with a different lens.
It’s my 9th book by Mr. Bond this year, and I’m still as astonished as I was with the first one. I have never read any author this much in a year, or any year for that matter, but when it comes to his writing, it always drives me for more. The cover of the book is pleasing, and each segment starts with a beautiful illustration.
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Getting to read his stories feels like coming close to oneself, revisiting our experiences, and cherishing some moments that we ignored in the past because we want to move on from things and explore new experiences and find the parallels from our own life like what happens in the story. The stories provide comfort, the same comfort as a tea or coffee lover feels while sipping a cup of it anytime.
The author says in the introduction,
“Over the years, so much of my writing has been inspired by these fascinating aspects of the country I call home. Traveling across India, I have met some of the most unusual people; come across the most majestic natural beauty; and visited some of the most stunning and bizarre places. This collection is an homage to those experiences.”
I can’t find words that could describe the beauty of the book better than these lines.
Read this book to delve deeper into the diversity of this country, of this land of wonders, and explore the range of emotions one can go through.
‘Just one small seed’, said Rakesh, and he touched the smooth bark of the tree they he had grown. He ran his hand along the trunk of the tree and put his finger to the top of a lead. ‘I wonder,’ he whispered. ‘Is this what it feels to be God?’
Have you read this beautiful collection on longing and belonging in India? What do you think of it? Drop a comment below and let us know!