Free Press Journal

‘Till the Clouds Roll By’ by Ruskin Bond: Review


Title: Till The Clouds Roll By

Author: Ruskin Bond

Publisher: Puffin Books

Pages: 76

Price: Rs 250

When I was young – I mean younger, in school – my English teacher used to bring storybooks to the class which had text at one side and pictures at the other. All of us had to borrow a book and read it in a month. This is one of those books that remind you of your childhood. In fact, this is a memoir of Ruskin Bond’s winter vacations when he was ten years old.

Ruskin Bond remarkably uses his personal experiences in his stories. Till The Clouds Roll By is a sequel to his memoir ‘Looking For The Rainbow’. Looking For The Rainbow was the story of the two years small Ruskin spent with his father in New Delhi and Shimla. His parents had recently separated. Till The Clouds, Roll By tells us about small Ruskin’s reminiscences with his Punjabi step-father. After his father had passed away, Ruskin stayed in a boarding school. This memoir gives an account of two months of his winter vacations at Dehradun (which he fondly calls Dehra) with his mother, step-father and siblings.

It feels like Ruskin has created pictorial characters when he tells about his grandmother and her parrot. Vividness is also to be seen in the incidences when the story begins and ends with the same image of Ruskin waving to a boy from the window of the train. The whole story lies in between these two scenes. Ruskin himself says, “that he remembers everything as it had happened yesterday.”

The 76 pages book is divided in five chapters. It gives an account of the transition of a 10-year-old boy from an English father to a Punjabi step-father. The incidents portray how the turns of events shaped his life. The story talks about his unusual friendship with his brother, step-brothers, step-father’s ex-wife, the man-servant, etc. He also tells about his rendezvous with wild animals, though he never enjoyed the ventures to ‘shikar’ in the jungle. He was, in fact, discovering his love for books. Although, he did get to catch a glimpse of the leopard which his parents could not.

The language of the books is heartening. It takes the reader to Ruskin’s old, innocent and tender age. How a lonely child, after his parents’ separation and father’s untimely death copes with the world and grows ‘when he was ten and not in his teens’.

Born on May 19, 1934, in Kasauli, Ruskin Bond is popular for his children books. He has fondly written about the hills he visited during his childhood. He has received Padmashri and Padma Bhushan for children literature.

The illustration by Mihir Joglekar and the texture of paper by Puffin Books (An imprint of Penguin Random House) adds up to the quality of the book and makes it dearer to the readers. It appears to be a children book, believe me, it would be loved by the readers of all ages. Those who want to take up reading, this will help them build up the passion.