Ever since I read about “Notes from a small room” on a fellow blogger’s blog, I wanted to read it. I did not google the title, I did not ask anyone what it was about and I did not even know who the author was.
And so, I pulled along with me the better half and off we went to the library. Entering a library makes me feel so joyous that I can’t describe the feeling in words. It is what I want to do all day – walk amidst bookshelves, taking in the addictive aroma of the old books, look at the books, pull out the ones that are screaming for your attention as though they were waiting there just to be discovered by you. Every little feeling felt in the library is priceless to me. Flipping through the pages and exploring a new author earnestly, trying to remember if the book looks like one of them on your personal “recommended by a friend” list, smelling the pages again and again – Oh ! I could go on and on.
So, when we entered the library after almost 2 months, you can imagine how happy I was. I squealed with delight ! The better half looked amused and gave me a pat on my head making me feel even more awestruck and more like a child. I ran to the computer to browse the location of the book and to check whether the library had it in the first place.
Yay ! It did. And to my wondrous delight, the book was by none other than one of my favourite authors- Ruskin Bond ! And more importantly, it was NOT on loan ! Not able to find the book under the “BON” author shelf, I went around looking for the librarian who browsed through the system again and took me to the shelf where it was. I should have known it was under a separate section with many other great books.
When she pulled it out, I could imagine that book must have been in hiding waiting for me to read it. It was a relatively thin book unlike the omnibus I expected. But I liked the cover and I usually give a lot of importance to the cover as well. So I thanked the librarian profusely for finding it so quickly for me because if she had delayed a bit more, I would have burst a vein with the excitement. Doesn’t it happen to you when you want to read a book and want to do it desperately?
So, as per the earlier deal with the better half about reading the book in the library for a couple of hours (and finishing it off as well), I set down to read the same. The better half got himself a book (on business and management) and sat down to read with me. Only after the long lost enthusiasm of sitting in the library and reading the book was experienced to the heart’s content did I actually start reading the first chapter from “Notes from a small room”.
As I read the book, I realized all over again why I loved Ruskin Bond. What is it about him that makes me feel alive? What is it about him that makes me look for his section time and again? Apart from his writings involving ghosts and ghost stories that I deliberately avoid, I have read a lot of his books and yet, I can read them endlessly. I can just go back to them and find umpteen things I missed out on when I read the book last. Like, what was the colour of the geranium on his window sill, what was the tree he loved in October, which book did he write when in Dehra and what was the description of his pet cat, Suzie (was actually a male) – I just can go back and read it all over again and soak it all in only to return again.
I love his love for nature. It isn’t just an appreciation of flora and fauna that is reflected in his writings, but much more. Much much much much more. I love him for the way he totally lived his life as part of his environ, paying heed ot the teeniest of details and knowing and caring for every creature he saw, touched, smelt and heard. His senses were not just sharp but also sensitive to fine discriminations. There was practically nothing he did not write of. He wrote of why he loved shrubs, why he loved the peepul, why he thought that Devdar as deodar trees were called, was an apt name, how he would catch and throw away every beetle that entered his room so that they did not hurt themselves because of the heat from the lamp, why he chose to be a writer, how he chose to be a writer, how he felt his father’s guiding hand on him always, why he felt at ease with geraniums and on and on.
There is an honesty in his writings that I can relate to. There is a sense of aura that engulfs you when you read his books. They aren’t just books but reels of film that unfold in front of your inner eye. When I read his work, I live with him, I eat what he eats, I stay in his house and I even see every little thing he sees – right from the bright ladybird to the sars crane couple to the spotted owls to the peanut vendor – just everything comes alive. When he describes the sound made by the leaves of the trees (and he does it grandly differentiating the sounds by leaves of different trees), I can almost hear them.
I was just telling the better half that I even before I read any book by Ruskin Bond, I had a vision. I had a vision of him sitting in a house atop a hill and surrounded by pines and deodars and a window sill overlooking the hillside and a homely village. It was eerie when I read that he lived in an almost similar home. I have always had such visions for some authors – even R.K. Narayanan turned out to have written some books from the place that I had always imagined him to be in. It fills me with me a wonderful feeling and I sometimes like to believe that we are related in some way. It makes me happy to think so.
Ruskin Bond is my own Bond. So when I say “Name’s Bond”, it has to be Ruskin Bond. He is the epitome of simplicity, of having lived life closest to other forms of life. He never had a writer’s block. He only had to look out of the window or even at the window and words would just flow, his hand moving away effortlessly, the ink from his pen putting in words that go on to create indelible impressions on the minds and in the hearts of those fortunate sounds who read them.
Some of his articles and notes on his father made me tearful. It is amazing how he remembered little details. I love little details myself and like to remember each snapshot of events passed and when I read Ruskin Bond, I feel at ease. It is an amazing feeling. My own spa.
I’d recommend Ruskin Bond’s work to anyone. Notes from a small room is just like a little diary – and I loved knowing more about him.
When I put the book down, I felt happy and content. As I looked around at the others engrossed in their books, I felt lucky that I had completed mine. Only to return again.
RB, I hope to God you understand how much I love you. How much your books meant to me during my summer holidays and how I made sure I read them in the most “lavish” way with lemonade and under the guava trees at home so that I could be as close to nature when I read your books as you were when you wrote them. Someday, I want to meet you. And when I do, I want it to be on the hill-top under your favourite deodar and then we shall gaze at the sky and talk about the endlessly changing patterns.
Until then, the library will do.