Ruskin Bond’s short stories are like photographs. They give us a picture in an instant, almost like the flash of a camera. With Bond, each story is also an experience. There are two ways in which these experiences have been unfolded; firstly through the experiences of Bond as a boy and secondly through his experiences as an adult. The experiences could be of some passing incident of life, uniquely remembered though; or it could be just a vision, a glimpse, a happening or a passing relationship.
In The Woman on Platform No. 8 for instance, it is just a woman who suddenly mothers him as a boy, fusses over him and thus becomes etched in the memory of the child. In The Coral Tree on the other hand, where he is an adult, just the experience of climbing a tree makes him nostalgically think about his grandfather’s house and he suddenly longs for childhood.
There are two categories into which Bond’s short stories could be divided. First are remembrances and memories. Bond pens down the past, when he was a child and which he remembers as an adult. These memories and experiences or childhood remembrances of the past or experience of the present, are such that in them nothing really happens.
The second category are the narratives, where something happens. In both cases Bond is lucid, clear and instant, so that the experiences are transmitted to us in their most original selves. Again, the experiences that he puts down, are at many times universal; like the boys playing cricket in The Photograph, which he recalls when he was a boy of ten.
To take up the remembrances or experiences first; certain features clearly emerge as the author pens them. It is the idiosyncrasies of the old that Bond depicts when his grandmother looks at the picture of a small girl in The Photograph again and refuses stubbornly to reveal the identity of the girl. Nothing happens in the story, except the last remark of the grandmother that keeps us guessing that it could be her own self. This story falls under the first category. Numerous other stories fall under this category. There are some odd sixty five stories of Bond’s from which some selected stories could be commented upon. Under the categories of remembrances especially are stories like The Window, The Man Who Was Kipling,A Guardian Angel, The Prospect of Flowers, A Face in the Dark, The Cherry Tree and so on.
In The Window Bond remembers a window simply because of the view it had given; the quizzical encounter with Kipling in The Man Who Was Kipling or simply the sadness of life itself as in The…