The name is Bond. Ruskin Bond.
I don’t exactly remember when I picked up my first Ruskin Bond, but I’ve always loved reading his books. Having lived in the hills for quite some time in the hills in my childhood, I can easily picture his words. It’s almost as if the story is being enacted in front of me; I’m the spectator standing on the side, observing everything. And what better, sometimes I’m even part of those stories :).
Often I imagine his cottage; on one of the hilltops in Mussourie, isolated from most dwellings. I imagine it to have a tall hedge around for privacy and I see myself walking around it. I see myself trying to find an entrance, peeping inquisitively through the hedge to catch a glimpse of the writer who has been with me since childhood.
Coming back to the book, I am the kind who can’t stand horror. As a kid (and sometimes even now) I used to be dead scared of going to the bathroom at night… I would go only when it is absolutely necessary and used to keep chanting “there are no ghosts.. there are no ghosts” all the way. This is the first time I picked up an horror stories collection, and the only reason why I picked it was because it was by Ruskin Bond.
I was all alone in the house. Sikander was travelling on work. I had finished reading the book I was reading and when I went to the book rack, I couldn’t find anything else more interesting than this one. I started the book with some apprehension (the fear from the fact that I knew it was supposed to be scary!). But the introduction of the book put me at ease and I read on. I finished ‘A face in the dark’ and boy was I scared because as if it was planned, the electricity went off right after I finished reading it. I closed the book and didn’t open it again until Sikander was back and I was no longer sleeping alone. Once my personal ghost buster was back, I continued with the book. I was actually enjoying those stories… most of the stories didn’t scare but left me with a desire to actually meet such a ghost myself. Especially the ones with a funny side :). In some stories there is no actual ghost but just the hint of a ghost… winds whistling, tree branches moving to give an illusion of someone waving from behind the trees… I actually had to stop myself from reading more than one story a night else the book would get over too quickly :).
I know when I next go to the hills, I will be wary of taking a stroll in the night alone for fear that I might come across the ghost of Hamida or Rose or Gulabi… Or I just might, for I do want to meet the fairies that live underground on the pari tippa!