Small joys

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It’s always about the simpler things in life with the boy from the hills. Of brushing off one’s shoes, encounters with snakes and centipedes, and jam, loads of it! Only this time not as Rusty, but as Ruskin himself as he recounts the years spent with his father in Delhi. It’s of course a long long time back, the capital still surrounded by ‘scrub forest’, a far cry from the toxic airfield it is today, yet only the boy can make it seem so magical.

Imagine a year away from school, mornings spent whipping up cream to make butter, lots of tea and yes, again, lots of jam. Of course, all this in the backdrop of World War II, with Calcutta being bombed and air-raid shelters coming up in Delhi. But then Ruskin Bond isn’t the one to write about the cruelty, wickedness and chaos of the world. So there are naked urchins jumping up and down the shelters, time spent discovering the historic sights of Delhi, movies, jazz and the outrageous stories of the sweeper’s son Raju. But most importantly, there are stamps – the common love that would take the father and son away after the war.

Two years of memories thus spilling out – through shared encounters, letters and postcards – that leave you feeling all warm and familial. It’s a book best read with your kid, making home and hills come alive for them through the eyes of the boy who would try out his father’s RAF cap. And in that very narrative, teaching them to look out for the jamun trees, cheese boxes and ponds with frogs. But most importantly teaching them to never lose hope and always find it in their heart to sing along…

Bye-bye rainy day, bye-bye snow,

We are on our way – here we go!

Rolling round the world, looking for the rainbow

We know we’re going to find some day!

Ps: You are never too old for a Ruskin Bond, Roald Dahl or Dr. Suess.

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