Reading was always a minority pastime, says Ruskin Bond | punjab$chandigarh | Hindustan Times
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Reading was always a minority pastime, says Ruskin Bond

Author Ruskin Bond says 50 years ago children did not have the distractions you blame today, but most of them still did not read

punjab Updated: Nov 26, 2017 18:30 IST
Oindrila Mukherjee
Ruskin Bond with Sumita Misra, chairperson, Chandigarh Literary Society, during Chandigarh Literati 2017 at Lake Club on Saturday.
Ruskin Bond with Sumita Misra, chairperson, Chandigarh Literary Society, during Chandigarh Literati 2017 at Lake Club on Saturday. (Sikander Singh/HT)

"Sometimes when words ring true, I'm like a lone fox dancing,In the morning dew." Author Ruskin Bond recited his poem 'Lone Fox Dancing' to thunderous applause from an audience that was mostly formed of schoolchildren sitting on grass from which the morning dew had still not dried.

But the adults were not far behind as they joined in to welcome one of India's most loved authors who took to the stage on Day 1 of Chandigarh Literati 2017 at Lake Club on Saturday. With his anecdotes on nature, people and ghosts, Bond reinforced nostalgia for many who have grown up reading his books. Nostalgia weaves in and out of the narrative of his works, sometimes telling his own stories and at other times of the imagined.

"Nostalgia in writing is trying to preserve something from the past. We're mostly inclined to forget unpleasant things, trying to preserve happy memories," said the author, who was in conversation with festival director Sumita Misra.

Bond came out with an autobiography 'The Lone Fox' in June. His writing hasn't stopped and his passion remains intact even at the age of 83. The humour is self-deprecating, drawing a connect with the young minds in the crowd. He is primarily a children's writer. But, school work, internet and television keep kids away from reading.

Bond disagrees, "Children never did read, even 50 to 60 years back. We did not have the distractions you blame today, but we had others. Reading was a minority pastime; times have changed now. We have more children's writers who are getting published. Also, illustrations have made a big difference."

However, the Q&A session with the author proved that children will never stop reading stories that open their minds to newer possibilities, bind them to nature and speak to their inner selves. When asked by a student, Anhad, of Yadavindra Public School, Mohali, whether the character Rusty from 'Room on the Roof' was based on him, Bond said, "Yes, to an extent. Though my other characters are fictitious and sometimes genuine, Rusty is my alter ego. You can call me Rusty."

Rusty came to life when Bond was 17 and writing a journal to record his daily experiences. That was also a time when he was away in England and was desperate to return to India, the country that is his "land and my own, as much as anybody else's. This is the country my parents and my grandparents grew up in".

Born in Kasauli and schooled in Shimla, the author's books are set in the Himalayas, amidst its flora and fauna, talking about the simple and uncomplicated life in the mountains. His writing has been autobiographical to a large extent and his new book is only a closer glimpse into his life.

Bond said, "Many writers go back to their youth when writing novels or short stories. In autobiographies, you may feel that the writer is not always truthful or is holding something back. So this book maybe a lot of genuine lies. In the next one, I might make up things and it will all be genuine."