‘Rusty – the boy from hills’ is one of the most endearing book on boyhood memories and has a personal & emotional connect to it. Ruskin Bond paints an intimate portrait of his childhood through the character Rusty. Through the eyes of Rusty, readers go behind the timeline in 1940’s Dehra. This book traces the origins of Rusty. Originally ‘The Room on the roof’ was the first book by Ruskin which introduced the teenage Rusty to readers. In ‘Rusty – the boy from hills’ we meet the little 9 years old Rusty pampered by his grandparents. Rusty’s parents have already been separated hence his upbringing is done by his paternal grandparents.
In this book, Rusty recounts the best days he spent with his grandparents, the Tonga rides to Dehra’s scenic towns, planting saplings in the forests and witnessing hilarious adventures of grandpa’s pets – python, monkey and a tiger. Rusty’s grandpa was no less than Dr. Do-little because the whole house was filled with animals and birds. Ruskin Bond also has described about the events of breakout of World War 2 and Rusty’s miraculous escape from a bombing. The adventure is set in Java and how Rusty & his father escape to Bombay is described like a fast paced adventure. Rusty returns to Dehra to live with grandma while his father is recruited in RAF (Royal Air Force). One day suddenly Rusty receives the news that his father has expired due to long sickness and now Rusty’s future is uncertain. Will Rusty adjust himself to living with his estranged mother and stepfather or will he stay with his grandma? These questions will only be answered by Rusty in Ruskin Bond’s book.
Blessed with an imaginative mind, Rusty has an infectious curiosity to know about the things. He want to take Tonga rides, plant saplings in forest, visit abandoned cemeteries and relish on road side foods. There is also a supernatural story in this book where Rusty comes across an abandoned grave of a woman who is connected to him. From hilarious comical situations to heart breaking emotions, Ruskin Bond has made this book like a classic Hollywood movie.
Here too Ruskin Bond has recounted the bonding with his late father – Aubrey Bond and the joyful two years he spent in the company of his dad. The chapter ‘Funeral’ in this book is really heart breaking where Rusty sneaks into the cemetery to see the burial of his father. By reading this chapter, one cannot stop shedding his tears for the little child Rusty.
A delightful reading in Rusty series, Rusty – The boy from hills is a refreshing classic to read and treasure in your personal library.
‘When Bond describes a destination….it ceases to be a place on the map and becomes a beautiful portrait of life itself’ – DNA Review
Reading Ruskin Bond’s books is a rewarding experience in itself. Whether it is reading his short stories or the full length Rusty adventures, each book has an old world charm to it. Rusty is alter ego of Ruskin Bond and the incidents happening in Rusty’s books are highly inspired by events happened in life of Bond.
This book is one of the best books in the Rusty series which takes you on a nostalgic trip to London, Jersey & Channel Islands and brings you back to Dehra – Rusty’s hometown. This book starts off with Rusty moving to England with an aspiration to become a renowned writer. Here Rusty’s struggle for survival begins in a foreign land where he has to pass his days eating in cheap restaurants of Jersey. He works by day and spends his night writing. Despite being a homesick person, Rusty passes melancholic days in London, remembering his late father and his Dehra friends. He misses the emotional connection of Dehra in London. In one of the chapters, Rusty’s office colleague contributes his money to help Rusty buy a typewriter. Rusty’s zeal to become a writer is reflected in the chapter.
By strange coincidences, Rusty crosses path with Rudyard Kipling and Sherlock Holmes in London. The cameo of Sherlock Holmes in this book is the biggest highlight of the storyline. After a painstaking struggle, Rusty succeeds to find publishers who agree to publish his stories. It was here in London where Ruskin Bond had penned down his debut novel – The Room on the roof. There is a romantic angle in this memoir too. When it comes to penning nostalgic romantic stories, no one writes it better than Ruskin. Rusty even falls in love with a Vietnamese girl named Vu Phuong but the love is not reciprocated. The story of Vu Phuong appears in two chapters – A tribute to a dead friend and the girl from Copenhagen.
‘The girl from Copenhagen’ is a heart tugging chapter in this book where a girl named Ulla seeks shelter in Rusty’s room for two days. Though Rusty spends time with Ulla, he doesn’t emotionally connect with her. After spending days in London, Rusty returns to his hometown – Dehra and here begins his real struggle to find his identity in world of writing. The second half of the book is filled with hilarious episodes, eccentric characters coming in life of Rusty. How Rusty manages to survive in Dehra is best to be read in Ruskin Bond’s refreshing, coming of age book – Rusty goes to London. Every time I read a Ruskin Bond book, I discover a refreshing aspect of life. Rusty goes to London is a delightful read and full of light hearted situations, funny characters and blink & miss cameo by the legendary Dilip Kumar. If you loved reading ‘Rusty goes to London’ do check ‘Rusty Runs away’ and ‘Rusty comes home’.