The Beauty Of All My Days review: Tales from a life

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Ruskin Bond on impulses that shaped his literary endeavours

By: K.C. Vijaya Kumar

Ruskin Bond finds joy in the small things. It could be a flowering shrub near a brook; a crow taking a swig from his beer; or just the mist swirling into his cottage at Landour, up in the Himalayas. Bond loves these vignettes and he has a way with words that conveys these moments to the readers.

For more than half a century, the 84-year-old author has been mining memories and penning short stories and novellas laced with droll humour and pithy observations about nature and mankind. Bond has always oscillated between fiction and the autobiographical genre, where he bares his life and highlights the impulses that shape his literary endeavours.

Perhaps with advancing age, Bond’s inner gaze has become stronger. Close on the heels of his autobiography Lone Fox Dancing, Bond writes a memoir, The Beauty Of All My Days. Unlike the earlier book, the latest isn’t a chronological retelling of his life. He takes perspectives and people and then goes back and forth to give us a glimpse of what makes him tick.

The 183-page book may seem familiar to those clued into Bond’s bibliography. But like a comfort-pillow or a grandfather, whose tales may have the same template but yet draws you into its warmth, Bond hand-holds the reader and opens our eyes to life’s minutiae.

Nothing escapes him, be it in his home or during his jaunts across the hills with perhaps a stray dog, the odd rainbow and the aroma of samosas for company.

In the early part he writes: “I am a person without many regrets. And yet, my parents’ marriage was not a happy one.” The lines are quintessential Bond. It shows a man at peace with himself despite the subterranean tragedies that marred his childhood.

The slow-life and phrases that embrace leisure remain his recurrent traits and he writes: “I wanted to see things — treetops, rooftops, birds in flight, kite flying, cloud formations.”

Bond has always been comfortable in his skin and with self-deprecatory humour he mentions his absent-mindedness: “Yesterday I put shaving cream on my toothbrush; and in the evening, instead of adding water to my rum, I poured in a generous amount of vodka. It was most refreshing.”

Savour this book, it reveals a contented man, observant about nature, grateful to his adopted family and showing us that life has to be relished. “It is important to have children in the house. When there is laughter bouncing off the walls, I catch some of it too,” he writes. As always, Bond makes us introspect and smile.

Courtesy The Hindu

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