Sunday, December 27, 2015

Children don't climb trees anymore

These last few days I have been slowly soaking the quiet pages of Ruskin Bond. He is one of those few people who have remained unperturbed by the growing domination of internet. His stories therefore are very rooted to the past. Much like Tagore, in Bond too, nature is almost a living character; one character constant in almost all the stories. So it is no surprise to find greying trees and their old remembered branches feature in several of Bond's stories.

The ease with which these trees spring up in so many of his stories is alarming for a modern-day reader like me. The familiarity that Ruskin seems to share with his long-remembered trees has a disturbing quality about it. Disturbing because the same trees seem to bluntly remind us of our own unfamiliarity with them.

In some of his stories, a greying and mellowed Ruskin revisits his leafy childhood pals, lamenting with a stab of sweet pain that he cannot climb them anymore, now that he is old and frail. But Ruskin, after all, can take heart from the fact that he hasn't fallen out of the race. He isn't lagging behind the new-age children. They don't climb trees any more than he does. The only worrying question is that will he really take heart from this fact?

-Ritesh. A

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