The audience gasps as Ruskin Bond narrates his near-death escape from the jaws of a tiger. And then, after a pause, he laughs out saying, “I just cooked up the story! If I had actually seen a tiger, I would surely have died of fright. I am a great liar.”
The 76-year-old self-confessed liar is holding forth before a largely young audience. “When I was 16, I was an old man. Now when I am 76, I’m a boy,” says Bond referring to the title of the session as well as one his books, Boys Will Be Boys.
Bond prefers to write about ordinary people from small towns caught in ordinary situations. “I am attracted to small places, the buoyancy and the humour and the fine outlook of the people,” he says.
The Landour-based writer feels India has changed a lot with cities becoming mega-cities, towns evolving into cities and villages turning into towns. So have the times for writers. “When I started writing, we never dreamt of [literary] festivals or book fairs. We wrote in the hope of being read,” says the writer who prefers writing novellas — “small novels or long stories” he elucidates — to novels.
With his books so popular among youngsters, it’s easy to label him as a ‘children’s author’. But he believes otherwise. “I began writing for children. Now I write for anyone who wants to read me.” “I can’t watch it,” Talking about the forthcoming Priyanka Chopra-starrer Saat Khoon Maaf that’s based on his short story Susanna’s Seven Husbands, he jokes,
“I can’t watch it” as the Censor Board has given the film an ‘A’ rating.
Coaxed to read one of his rare ‘adult’ passages, Bond says, “There’re are children in the audience, but if I don’t read these wicked parts, the youngsters will be disappointed. He then proceeds to read a rather hilarious passage about a young boy being seduced by a “scaly old woman”.