Ruskin Bond feels lucky to live in India. The celebrated author says there is more freedom for writers in India despite various conflicts and occasional turmoil. “If you think of the world in the present circumstances, how borders change and conflicts are constantly erupting in the world, it is not a peaceful universe as it was before,” Bond said in an email interview when asked about his relationship with the country.
“I find it very lucky to be an Indian and living in India. That is the one reason I am never attracted to going abroad or settling in any other country because in spite of various conflicts and occasional turmoil, compared to other countries, you would find more freedom and topics for a writer in India,” added the author of British descent.
Bond, who was associated with Landmark’s Child Reading to Child initiative for the fourth time this year, continued: “Suppose you were a writer in China and you go and sit to write on Great Wall of China, somebody would come in and take you away…go down the list of various countries, you will find that living in Europe is very dull.”
“If you live in America, you need a gun and I am not very fast with a gun, so I think I would walk out very quickly. So, I think it’s much better here if you compare it to other lands.” Born in Kasauli in what is now Himachal Pradesh, Bond grew up in Dehradun, New Delhi and Shimla. He then spent four years in London as a young man, only to return to India in 1955. He has been staying at Ivy Cottage in Landour since 1981.
Starting his journey as a writer with his first book at the age of 17, Bond has spent 68 years giving words to his thoughts, creating a collection of over a hundred novellas, short stories, non-fiction and poetry books. Looking back, Bond said: “I was a bookworm in school and in those days it was easy to get books. Bigger cities had bookshops. Also, I had a very lonely childhood so I had turned to books at an early age and they were a great help and by the time I had finished school I had decided that this is what I want to do.”
And he feels he “didn’t do badly”. “I started wanting to become a well-known writer and today I have lots of readers. It took a long time but it came about. So if you do have a dream, something you want to do very much in your life it will come about if you persist.
“If you keep that vision in mind and the desire within you, you have to work towards it, you just can’t sit back and expect everything to come to you. You have to work towards it as for some people it might come very quickly and for some, it may take a lifetime.” But success can’t come at the cost of quality.
“I see that a lot of people are rushing through. They just want to see their name on the book. The other day, there was a book launch and was self-published by an author and the writer had simple grammatical errors, even the sentences hadn’t been rightly put together. Nobody would ever enjoy reading that book. There was no fluency. So the language is all important to begin with,” said the 84-year-old.
He has spent many years spreading happiness with his stories and garnered appreciation from all quarters. He is determined to not let age slow him down. “There will always be books as long as I am mentally capable of it,” said the author, who has been bestowed the Sahitya Akademi Award for English Writing, as well as the Padma Bhushan and the Padma Shri, the country’s third and fourth highest civilian awards.
“I am done and nearly finished with a book on trees, flowers and plants. It’s not a scientific book. I will do another and finish a story of me being a goalkeeper. A lot of people think I am a good writer and praise me, but no one praises me for being a goalkeeper and in this book, I am going to praise myself as a goalkeeper. And then what else, I would see how it goes.”