These days I’m in the middle of reading books by Ruskin Bond and I will be reviewing as many I can to share the joy I’ve experienced. I am a nature lover, I love spending time watching the birds, bugs, bees, leaves, clouds and the swaying trees without worrying about the time.
Having grown up in a home with a big garden featuring over a hundred varieties of ferns, over 3,000 pots at any time of the year and fruit laden trees, one read of the blurb of the book celebrating Ruskin Bond’s 82nd birthday, that read:
“When I came to live in Mussoorie just over fifty years ago, I lived in Maplewood Lodge, a cottage below Wynberg-Allen School. Its windows opened on to a well-forested hillside. So naturally I wrote about the trees, wild flowers and birds and other creatures who lived among them. Then circumstances forced me to move higher up the mountain and for the last thirty-five years I have lived on the top floor of Ivy Cottage, in Landour Cantonment. Here there are windows too and they open on to the sky, clouds, the Doon valley and range upon range of mountains. And from this perch on the hillside I feel that I am part of the greater world, mother India as well as the natural world of planet Earth.’
In this charming collection, Ruskin Bond talks about his various encounters with the natural world. From the chorus of cicadas to the song of the whistling thrush, from his love for sea shells to his favorite place on earth, Bond details why he has such an overwhelming love for nature. This book is for all who cherish the green world, just as Bond does.”
I knew, this book shall ignite many fond memories because the garden I mentioned above no longer exists. However, I was confident that reading about all the things that constitute my early impressions in the charming words of Ruskin Bond will be an experience to cherish. With expectations aplenty I started reading the book and this is what I discovered.
My Review: The book has a beautiful, colorful cover celebrating nature and its myriad hues with birds and buds resonating author’s love for these. The beauty of the cover, sets the reader in the right frame of mind, before he moves on to reading this picturesque piece of literature. The book is a collection of nature stories and the title sets the expectations right.
The introduction highlights the author’s bonding with nature, his love for the windows that open to the sky, clouds and the majestic valley. However there are lines that touched me deep that I’m sure will stay with me for a very long time:
“Humankind took over the earth from the dinosaurs, who perished due to natural upheavals and dramatic climatic changes. We could go the same way, as we have proved to be bad tenants with little or no regard for the natural world that we have inherited.”
The book is divided into small, thoughtfully titled stories that slowly but steadily transport you to the places, midst the flora and fauna, views of which Bond has captured in his simple yet poignant writing. There is not a single dull moment and despite the swift flow of stories like torrential rain, I spent many days savoring this book in small morsels.
From the onset, I felt that the book would have benefited with sketches or pictures of the many species of flowers, ferns, birds, insects, trees and more. Though I am familiar with 70% of them mentioned here, I took time to Google the rest to get a deeper insight into the experiences of the author. But towards the end, I was satisfied that I had ‘seen’ and experienced them all in the words of Ruskin Bond.
“Almost always, it’s the unexpected that thrills us. It may only be a shaft of sunlight, slanting through the pillars of banyan tree; or dewdrops caught in a spider’s web; or, in the stillness of the mountains, the sudden chatter of a mountain stream as you round the bend of a hill; or an emperor’s first glimpse of a winding river and the world beyond.
Time, place and emotion must coalesce, hence the rarity of these occasions. Delight cannot be planned for- she makes no appointments!”
The warmth of nostalgia, the tenacity of curiosity, the joy of kindness making the author treat the snakes, moths and flowers tenderly filled my heart with love for our environment like never before is inspiring.
I particularly loved the metaphors adorning the ending of every story. Their charm inspired me to re-read the last two paragraphs of all stories even after finishing the book. Like every Ruskin Bond book the simplistic, charismatic appeal of Ruskin Bond’s writing will leave you wanting to read more of his works.
I loved the fact that though the author touches upon the binomial nomenclature (mentioning the genus & species) of a few insects and flowers he restrained from going into biological nitty-gritty saying:
“But I am no botanist. I prefer to be the butterfly, perfectly happy in going from flower to flower in search of nectar.”
Doing so, the author successfully retained the charm of the stories as being written by someone experiencing the majesty of nature and not an expert in the field.
The book inspires us to be curious, aware of our surroundings, taking time to patiently admire nature’s bounty. The motivation to be tenacious like water, loyal like the trees, disciplined like the seasons while swaying to the music of the insects and frogs left me with a smile that lasted long after I put the book down.
I highly recommend this book to every nature lover of all age groups and also to those are looking for a break in their monotonous lives with a dive in the lap of nature in the charming words of a seasoned, celebrated author as Ruskin Bond.
About the Book :
Title – My Favourite Nature Stories
Author – Ruskin Bond
Publisher – Rupa Publications
Genre – Non-Fiction
Pages – 137
Price – INR 195
ISBN – 978-81-291-3768-5
About the Author – Ruskin Bond has been writing for over sixty years and has now over 120 titles in print novels, collections of stories, poetry, essays, anthologies and books for children. His first novel, The Room on the Roof, received the prestigious John Llewellyn Rhys award in 1957. He has also received the Padma Shri (1999), the Padma Bhushan (2014) and two awards from the Sahitya Akademi one for his short stories and another for his writings for children. In 2012, the Delhi government gave him its Lifetime Achievement award.
Rating – 4/5
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