Express News Service
Coughing periodically, Ruskin Bond warns us about his landline phone, which is haunted. “He has a ghost, very naughty, who often interrupts and breaks the line,” he says conspiratorially, adding that he has not yet written about it. It’s already 6pm, and while we’re halfway from the cold Masura, it seems only natural to imagine the legendary author, who was recently awarded Padma Bhushan, smiling to himself from his personal joke.
While we may have to wait for the story of Bond’s haunted landline phone, his new collection of short stories, Whispers in the Dark, is already on the bookshelves. In this book, the ghosts are 35 short vivid stories, from which all sorts of shivers tremble on the ridge. Whether it’s the humiliating wife of Gulabi, who is occasionally seen rushing into the Gangotra River, or Michael, the boy who became a ghost who met his end too early and was occasionally spotted in his cycle whistling to himself – all stories , albeit without a common theme, they have horrible characters that arouse our curiosity. Indeed, there is no one better than Bond to introduce children to the distinctive beauty of the hills with their idiosyncratic people, from Rusty (Room on the Roof) to Binya (Blue Umbrella), from time to time add to this many ghosts. Ghost Season). After all, it has been doing this for six decades, and doesn’t seem to get tired.
The first meetings
Since his parents were not particularly horrible, the first horror story he came across was in the book by M.R. James’s “Stories of Antiquarian Ghosts.” Raised on a healthy diet of ghost stories by other classical writers such as Elgenan Blackwood and Walter de la Mar, the author believes that the secret to their success was to create the right awful atmosphere in their stories. What is better than India for this, where there is no shortage of ghosts and their stories.
Bond, of course, cheerfully says that supernatural beings are also a tourist attraction for thrill seekers who visit haunted places for the sake of chills. In fact, not long ago someone in Masuria asked him if he could write a story that introduces ghosts to their hotel to boost their check-in.
“I promised that if I was allowed to stay there for free for a month, I certainly would,” he says, laughing. If you think about it, India is inhabited by its native ghosts, such as pretas, churels and gins, as well as, according to Bond, several British ghosts. “The British left in 1947, but they left many ghosts in the mountain stations and old towns, where you can see an old colonel on a horse or Memsaab jumping headless,” – says almost seriously the author.
That’s when Bond reveals to us another little secret, which is a crown of irony. Bond doesn’t believe in ghosts, though he can always “cook a ghost”. Perhaps it shows.
He tells us about a complaint he once received from a little girl that the ghosts he beats down, though good, are not scary enough. “She asked me if I could make them scarier, and I said I would give it a try,” he says, acknowledging that using words to evoke tension or fear is quite difficult, especially in this age of horror movies and TV series that attended by children.
Immediately at the sign of the ghost that lives in his phone, interrupts the call.
Fortunately, the ghost in the phone line doesn’t seem to stop us when we resume the call, and so the balance is restored fairly quickly.
“Often the books I write for the general reader end up in children’s books or get into the school curriculum, and the books I write for children end up being read by adults. I think the line is not very clear. Also, I don’t want to be limited as a writer for children, ”Bond says after we recovered, and apologizes for the sore throat, adding that half of what he wrote is for young readers and the other half – for wide readers. . We agree that he should not be associated with any genres, because he wrote different stories for all ages: “I have been writing stories for over 60 years, I had time to try different genres,” – says the native of Kassavli writer. Since the only publishers in the 1950s were school textbooks (“That’s why Indian authors of the period were published abroad if they were good”), he had to turn to a freelancer for newspapers and magazines. “Then the payment was good, from 50 to 100 pounds, which in those days was more than now,” – he recalls.
Looking back, he says his writing style hasn’t changed much. “Maybe I’m a little more cynical now compared to my more romantic tendencies when I was younger,” he says, calling his letter “simple and straightforward” and, as a result, “whether I write it for kids or adults, there is not much difference in my approach ”.
It’s a wonderfully old school. In an era when the computer is king, Bond prefers to write by hand, directly on a notebook, because “I’ve already visualized the story in my head, so you just have to put it into words and make it interesting,” says Bond. this method to prevent any possible authoring block.
The 82-year-old author draws his stories from memories of the past, because “the past is always with us, because it feeds the present,” he quotes himself. The past, along with wisdom and memories, brings the understanding that learning is an endless process. Perhaps that is why he is now reading the Oxford Dictionary of English, learning the meaning of new words and the origin of old ones. “I’m kind of trying to improve my language,” says the master narrator, whose words fascinated us all as children and continue to do so to this day.
In the end, we thank him for talking to us, despite the fact that he has a bad throat (“no, nothing cough syrup and a little hot rum will not cure”) and the ghost that lives in his phone, which graciously refrained from break our conversation again.