Since quite a few years, I keep visiting book exhibitions which are held in Pune’s Institution of Engineers’, where they sell English books at reduced rates. And I have found many treasures there. The book titled Rusty and I by Swapan Banerjee is one such book which not only introduced me to Ruskin Bond and also led me into his world of books. Before that, like others, I also had heard about Anglo-Indian writers like Ruskin Bond and Rudyard Kipling, but then had not paid much of attention to their writing due to other priorities. I want to write a bit about that book here today. I have written about Bond’s few other books here, and Kipling’s here in the past.
I always love books on books and also books on authors. And this one is both! The book is a collection(or anthology as the publisher says) of various writings such as interviews, reminiscences, reviews of his some works, poems and short story dedicated to him. Most of it has appeared at various places such as Amirta Bazar Patrika, in the past. The book has introduction by famous Odiya/English writer Manoj Das as well. I also got introduced to him through this book only(yes, I know I am exhibiting my literary illiteracy here, but that is what it is!)
The book’s front blurb says, ‘Rusty and I is a tangible expression of the highest admiration for the great literary gift and rare humanism of Ruskin Bond. At the time, Bond was pilloried and tomahawked by some critics who thought him fit only to be published in weekend supplements as his style of writing, according to them, was ‘simplistic’. To me, exactly due to this simplistic writing he is adored even today. In this book itself, there is an interview by Dr Prabhat K Singh, author of Creative Contours of Ruskin Bond. In that interview’s opening note, Dr Singh mentions Bond explaining in his book Best of Ruskin Bond, that goes like this: ‘People often ask me why my style is so simple. It is, in fact deceptively simple. It is clarity that I am striving to attain, not simplicity. Of course, some people want literature to be difficult. And those who think this is simple should try it themselves.’
The best part of the book which I like is those three interviews of Ruskin Bond which author himself has taken at various times, in which various facets of Ruskin Bond come out. The other interesting part is letters between Bond and the author. I also liked the report on first Mussorie’s Writers Mountain Festival, which has now got lot of fame.
The book is about long lasting bond with Rusty, which is Ruskin Bond himself(the little boy in his famous book The Room on the Roof), and the author Sawapan Banerjee. We are also introduced to Rusty’s simplistic approach to life, down to earth personality, and someone who has never hurt anyone. The author’s admiration and regard towards Rusty is all in this book. If you are Ruskin Bond lover, you need to grab his book. The other thing, I need to do is to watch television series made on him titled Ek Tha Rusty, which I had watched few times accidentally. Not sure if anyone here has watched it. Ruskin Bond is over 80 these days. It is very heartening to know that Rusty still writes. I see him writing in Times Of India’s Sunday editions. I wish that he keeps writing and giving us a joy!