‘A Song of India’ by Ruskin Bond: Book Review
A Song of India is the fourth book in the memoir series of writer Ruskin Bond’s life. A series penned to celebrate 70 years, Ruskin Bond, the writer from the hills, has spent writing short stories, novellas, essays, and other bookish works for his readers. Ruskin Bond is considered India’s most loved and popular writer who has influenced many readers from age 8 to 80 throughout his writing career. As it is the custom with me, I read this book and only then realized it was part of a series. I read the first book in this series titled Looking for the Rainbow a few years back. I found I had not purchased or read the other two books in the series. I will buy hardback copies of the books as soon as possible to read, relish, and review here on my blog. A Song of India is a beautiful book that chronicles 1947–1948 when Ruskin Bond had just finished his schooling and was sixteen years of age, ready to do anything to become a writer. I have recently reviewed another book by Ruskin Bond titled How to be a Writer, which you can check out here. As a stand-alone book, a Song of India is a masterpiece ideal for a relaxing read while traveling and a must for children to read and savor.
I received A Song of India by Ruskin Bond as a Christmas gift from Santa Claus. The book is intentionally penned for children interested in Ruskin Bond’s life and how he became the writer he is today. It is beautifully illustrated, which makes the narrative come alive. It is an excellent collectible and a must-have for all Ruskin Bond fans; add it to your Ruskin Bond bookshelf. The book is narrated by Ruskin Bond, who talks about how it felt to be a teenager fresh from boarding school and ready to take on the world. He speaks about his love for an older girl Raj with whom he played badminton and lost many matches. He narrates how he got a ‘room on the roof’ all to himself when one fine day he ran away from his house. He came back later, and that was when his mother gave him the room to himself. This room is the same room that encouraged him to write his first novel, The Room on the Roof when he was in the Channel Islands. The diaries that he kept at that time helped him add to the story later in life. From his love for Raj to eating samosas while watching Laurel and Hardy movies with his friend Bhim, Ruskin Bond tells the tale of his youth like no other writer.
I was happy to read this book and was glad Santa got this one for me. Yes, I am 31 years old, and I still believe in Santa Claus. You can check out my blog post, ‘2020 Christmas Books from Santa Claus’, to know more about that. The book is a mood lifter and a great book of ideas for children who like to read and write, especially those contemplating taking up a writing career. I highly recommend this book to children, especially Indian children who are keen on becoming a writer. According to Ruskin Bond, the path was a little bit easy compared to our situation now. There were not many writers in the market, so it was easy to sell stories to a prestigious magazine or newsletter and get paid for it.
I was deeply touched when Ruskin Bond describes how happy he felt when he received his first pay for a story or rather a skit he wrote. Every writer has that moment and relishes that moment. When I wrote my first short story for ‘The Examiner’, a Catholic News Weekly magazine, I was thrilled to receive at the end of the year a hefty sum of 2,500 rupees in the form of a Crossword Bookstore coupon. That feeling is worth all the effort and hardship a rookie writer must undergo. I was nineteen years old when my short story was first published. Ruskin Bond was sixteen. It was 1947, and the India that he knew was changing dramatically because that was the year of our independence. The Britishers were leaving India, most returning to England or Australia and New Zealand to start life afresh. Ruskin Bond, too, was given all these options by well-meaning adults, but he was keen on becoming a writer.
What is more, he was in love with India and did not want to leave. I can relate to this very well. When I was in my early 20’s, I was offered an opportunity to go to Dubai to start my teaching career there. However, I decided to stay in good old India because I was a bit patriotic. Also, I was too attached to my family, my home, and the bookstores and libraries that are dotted all over the city of Mumbai. I did not have the heart to leave the Mumbai bookstores and libraries. I did not want to leave the country that housed all four of my all-time favorite writers: R.K. Narayan, the Grand Old Man of Malgudi, Ruskin Bond, the writer from the hills, Premchand, the best Hindi and Urdu short story and novel writer, and Dr. B.R. Ambedkar who taught me how to be human and about justice, equality, and the rights of humankind. For more on my favorite writers and the life I lead in books and with books, you can check out my award-winning memoir Scenes of a Reclusive Writer & Reader of Mumbai on my blog’s products page.
Ruskin Bond was not attached to his stepfather and mother, but he was attached to the land where he was born, that is, India. He was attached to the memory of his father and his writing. It is romantic and idealistic to read about the simple life of Ruskin Bond at this point in his life. His detachment to things and materialism made him the humorous and cheery writer that he has always been. It is difficult not to come back from a Ruskin Bond book without getting the feeling that you have just experienced a hug in the form of a book, most of the time a ‘cozy read’. In A Song for India, Ruskin Bond shows his love for books and writing, and nature in a way that is down to earth and very soothing to the ear, eye, and of course, the mind. Puffin has done an excellent job bringing out this book to encourage children’s writing talents between ages 8 to 80! The best feeling in life is when you rescue a child, even if that child is the one hidden deep within you, an adult bogged down by the cares of the world.
My favorite parts in the book were his literary activities, how he struggled to make enough money to save and enjoy the things he loved, books, and music. Ruskin Bond is very much a people person and is not reclusive or solitary. That works for him, but I am very much a solitary person. Different things and settings work for different people. I am aware that other writers relate to life differently, and it is very shocking to note that most writers these days are not introverted or solitary creatures at all! Authors these days are very sociable and speak a lot. As his ardent fans and readers, Ruskin Bond makes us realize that to be with people is important, but to be a serious writer, one must not talk about writing a book but write it. If one keeps on talking about it, one can talk about it to death, which is not the aim of a writer. Discipline and a timetable in a writer’s life are necessary, and the sooner one follows it, the better it shall be for him or her.
It always fascinates me to read about how this fiery young adult Ruskin Bond left India thinking in his heart that he would return, and he did. As young adults, we are not that well equipped to take on life immediately. But in A Song for India, Ruskin Bond narrates how he was already more than just independent and was ready to go to Charles Dickens’ land to either become a successful writer and stay or do his best and then return to India. He wanted to come back to his roots and the land he loved and the land his late father loved. Ruskin Bond was lucky to have a loving father who instilled in him the love of reading, stamp collection, movies, and music. Not all are so fortunate. My father rejected me at birth because I was born a girl. To read about that part of my life, you can check out my little memoir titled The Reclusive Writer & Reader of Bandra on my blog’s products page.
A Song of India is a tiny little book packed with content to enliven and inspire. Grab your hardcover copy of the book today and do read the entire series. Please encourage your children to read this book and the books or classics that Ruskin Bond has recommended they read. They all are delectable bookish treats. I will buy the other books of this series and eagerly await his next book. Ruskin Bond’s photograph rests on one of my office-cum-writing hut bookshelves in Bandra West, Mumbai. He is a treasure to India’s literary world and has influenced many children, especially during the 1990s and early eighties. I hope to meet him someday to tell him how much he has influenced me.
I enjoyed reading and reviewing this tiny little collectible book by Anglo-Indian writer Ruskin Bond. I have almost every book written and published by Ruskin Bond and will reread them to review the books for you here on my blog.
If you are interested in book reviews, book analysis, short-story analysis, poems, essays, essay analysis, and other bookish content, you can check out my blog insaneowl.com. If you are interested in buying my books, you can check out my blog’s products page. There is a lot of good stuff to buy! Happy reading to you always!
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