Author: Ruskin Bond
Publisher: Penguin Books
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“The longings after something lost. Perhaps that is dominant theme in my stories. It is a longing that has been experienced by all of us at various times in our lives unless one has become desensitized by power and money.”
With lines like these, Ruskin Bond will capture your heart and soothe your soul right from ‘Introduction’.
Filled with 30 simple short stories, Ruskin Bond’s The Night Train at Deoli and Other Stories is a compilation of some of his best work. The tales are a slice of life and an ode to the place & times Ruskin Bond grew up in. Primarily set in Mussorie, Dehradun and Shimla, where Bond has spend a good part of his life ( he still lives in Mussorie), his love for the hills, nature and the people living there clearly reflects in his writing.
Heavy with subtle longing for golden years gone by, which were unadulterated with toxicity, Bond paints a beautiful picture in the mind of the readers through this book. By his own admission, you would find influences from his own experiences, as well as those of the people he met on his life’s journey, in the stories. Which is why, the book is an amalgamation of fiction and autobiography, just like most of his other books.
The central theme of all the stories in Night Train at Deoli and Other Stories is ‘Love’ in some shape, size or form. To name a few, he touches upon love for one’s hometown & the yearning for childhood in ‘When You Can’t Climb The Tree Anymore’, ‘My Father’s Trees In Dehra’, and ‘The Coral Tree.’ We get a glimpse at Bond’s love for writing and the struggle that followed in, ‘Bus Stop, Pipalnagar.’ He explored the instant connection and love at times we feel for some strangers you meet on long journeys in, ‘The Woman on Platform’, ‘The Night Train at Deoli’, and ‘The Eyes have it.’ Not to forget, his tribute to sweet-bitter pain of unrequited love in, ‘Love is a sad song’, ‘A Love Long Ago’ will surely strike a chord.
The book is like a warm hug that unclenches your fists, calms your pulsating nerves, relaxes your back and gives you a dash of momentary peace in stressful times. It will remind you, just like it did me, of all the places, things and people that hover in some corner of our subconscious, without even realizing it. More importantly, it will make you realize, that stories are all around us. All we need to do is sit and observe. It will compel you to take pen and paper (or laptop, notepad, whatever) and start creating your very own set of stories.
The only piece of criticism for the book is the writer has used the same set of lines and description in two different stories (The Kitemaker & Sita and the River). A small error, though we can easily ignore it, as the positives are many!
Simple, concise, clean, and straight from heart! It can be enjoyed by children, young adults and adults – who want a moment of solace in our tumultuous, noisy world.
Links to some interviews of Ruskin Bond: