To chuckle like a child is a rare commodity as we grow older. Yet, we cannot resist for long from finding a way to communicate our emotions, even if it means that we might look silly for the rest of the world. We instinctively shed all our inhibitions to express ourselves heartily at the first opportunity. It is in the man’s innate nature to be childlike when pampered by his favorite things and favorite people and to laugh with joy and not fearing the least of what the world might think or say. And I experienced one such remarkable moment during a recent trip to Mussoorie; a hilly town nestled in the state of Uttarakhand.
The time had finally arrived to fulfill a long-time desire because I have heard about it since childhood, but somewhat forgotten over the years; to meet the country’s beloved author—Ruskin Bond. I didn’t know much about his work, until a few months back I read one of his books for the first time. It was A Book of Simple Living—which is about Nature, his fascinating memories of childhood, the mountains he grew up with, and the incredible journey of his life.
I understood why he is everyone’s darling and inevitably, mine too.
Ruskin Bond is aging well, surrounded by pristine mountains, whom he calls home and the love of his devoted readers. He is now 84. He is nimble and a prolific writer, even at this age. Every Saturday, for an hour (3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.) at the Cambridge Book Depot in Mussoorie’s Mall Road, Ruskin Bond comes to meet his fans, admirers, and readers. You will find people of all ages make a queue with gusto two hours prior to his arrival. Some look at their watches waiting eagerly, while some go back to the store to buy more books, lest his autograph on a few copies wouldn’t be enough to treasure.
It was a lovely sight to find so much anticipation and enthusiasm in people, sometimes hopping in the crowd just to get his glimpse and the sheer happiness that radiates through their smiles.
Not to forget, I was also part of that crowd. When the time came to get my copy signed, it was only natural that I couldn’t contain my happiness with a gentle smile. I was beaming! Thanks to one of their staff who agreed to take my picture with Mr. Bond. He clicked a dozen so that I can keep the best one. Unfortunately, this meeting was short-lived as I had to make my way for the next fan waiting in excitement for her turn.
Later, in the evening, I thought about the rendezvous and why it felt like there was so much purity and naivety in the enthusiasm and attitude of every person who stood in that queue to meet him. Perhaps this is the mark of mutual affection that these people and the author share through the stories. For he has written so many, giving incredible joy to the children, mesmerizing their minds and giving adults like me a renewed way of looking at the tiny details of daily life.
Thought I met him for a brief time, I felt content. My friends asked me if I had talked to him and told him how much I liked his book. I did neither. Even if I had the opportunity to talk to him, maybe I wouldn’t have done anyway.
I believe that few moments must remain pristine as much as a mystery from understanding this world fully and sometimes the people. I got to know Ruskin Bond through his books. His heartwarming anecdotes allowed me to enter his world and gape at the wonders of life. So, let us not ruin a few things.
Sometimes just a glimpse and presence of someone you admire is enough to last a lifetime.
That evening with Mr. Bond will remain etched in my memory for a long long time.