Celebrated author Ruskin Bond spent his 85th birthday among tourists and fans visiting his residence near Mullingar in Landour Cantonment board, Mussoorie on Sunday. The Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan awardee spoke to Ajay Ramola on the current state of literature and politics in the country, the excerpts of which are given below.
It is your 85th birthday, how are you feeling?
Nothing different from before. I have never been a birthday person and its only in the last few years that my birthdays have coincided with book launches, so it has become a part of promotion in a way.
Many believe you are now a brand, a celebrity in your own right and lot of publishers would like the books written by you in their kitty. Are you happy of this brand status?
No I don’t want to be a brand. Brand means I cannot go out for a quiet walk without tourists and fans constantly following me. It is nice of course, to have reached a point in your career where you are recognized as a writer but I think media has a huge role to play in this fact of attention garnering.
Children are less concerned with your brand status and like more of your content and writing, do you like that?
Well, I appreciate that. A lot of school-going children are familiar with my writing. I am basically very much a children books author. Although I write for adults too, I think I have reached a point now where I will give more importance to writing for children and young people.
The nature, especially mountains and trees are an integral part of your writings. Is it by design or comes naturally?
Its natural to me. I have been naturally inclined towards mountains, trees, flowers and rivers.
Are the children today reading enough?
It has been the complaint since my school days that children are not reading enough but if you compare with my school days, more children are reading today because of the spread of education. Nowadays, there are more writers than readers, as I feel it has become fashionable to write. Maybe because of social media or other digital tools. Although the quality of literature is compromised in many cases, it is a good sign that more are taking to writing these days.
The book you are launching today, what it is about?
The book launched today titled ‘Coming Round the Mountain’ is a memoir set in the backdrop of 1947, the year when India got its independence. It is about recalling that year and the way Independence and partition affected all of us. The first part “Looking for Rainbow” was about my childhood during World War 2 while the second one titled ‘Till the Clouds Rolled By’ is about my childhood and vacation in Dehradun.
Your birthday is coinciding with the last phase of Lok Sabha elections. What are your expectations?
Don’t ask me to predict as I will fail miserably at it. Jokes apart, I, like many other, am looking for strong and stable government. I don’t want any chaotic political situation where the elected government is being toppled frequently. Whosoever wins, should be able to continue full term and ensure the country treads the path of development and prosperity for all.
Your fans are here from around the country. Any message for them?
I thank them for the trouble they have taken to be here to wish me on my birthday. For children, I would like to say read more and take care and respect your family and be happy and enjoy life. I would like to assure them that the writing will continue till I am functioning mentally and physically.
What is your secret of good health?
Eat, sleep and work well.
Which of your book you rate the most?
I do not have any specific choice but my first book ‘The room on the roof’ is still being read while another one ‘The Night train at Deoli’ is another that has sold the most.
May 20, 2019 15:29 IST