By Saket Suman
New Delhi– At a time when writers are increasingly evoking controversies with their political stand and activism, one gifted writer — possibly India’s most loved and adored — maintains a low-profile, away from the glitz and glamour, and yet commands enormous readership while writing at an incredible pace.
The 83-year-old Ruskin Bond has literally walked from the birth to the boom of Indian publishing industry (English) and has followed the simple mantra of minding his own business — writing — to traverse a 67-year-long illustrious journey spent exclusively in writing.
“One of my favourite school teachers used to say: ‘Stay calm and mind your own business’ and I have been minding my own business ever since. That has kept me going. The good thing about not being in too much of the public eye is that you can perhaps have a more balanced view of life and issues when you are writing because you are not prejudiced, you are not taking sides and you are not personally associated with the issues that you are writing about,” Ruskin Bond told IANS in an interview here.
His long awaited and much anticipated autobiography “Lone Fox Dancing” (Speaking Tiger/Rs 599/277 pages) was to be launched on Tuesday evening in the capital. Bond said that although he has written over a hundred books, it is the only time in his life that he had planned to have a grand book launch with a cocktail party, courtesy his publishers.
Impressing upon the impact of his simple life on his writings, Bond said that if he was caught up in the glitz and glamour, travelled to too many literary festivals, he would actually have no time to do any writing. But then, he said, he is a simple person who sees beauty in small things.
“You can go and live in the middle of wilderness and still find trouble. I have also been a fairly tolerant and easy-going person. I don’t often get into controversies and trouble but I think I would not have written as much as I have or enjoyed writing as much as I have if I got involved in too many other things,” he added.
The much revered author of our times highlighted the fact that so many people were now turning into activists and the number of exclusive writers was on a constant decline. His writing career is an example to the contrary.
“I have always been close to nature and through my writings urged people to preserve the natural habitat and yet, on the other hand, I am not the kind of person to go on the street and make a noise about it. So by nature I am not that kind of a person. I like the solitude that one can have as a matter of choice,” he maintained.
Responding to a question on the increasing tendency of some authors to pick issues and create controversies out of them, Bond agreed that most writers have very big egos. The ego of writers, Bond said, is not so obvious as they can some times conceal it and give the impression that they are not egotist when they actually are.
The 1992 Sahitya Akademi Award-winner for “Our Trees Still Grow in Dehra” was among the few writers to openly shun the returning of awards by leading authors in 2015. He said the award meant a lot to him because it came at a time when he was not doing very well financially.
“I thought what was it going to achieve if I returned my award and what did it achieve in any case? Writers and journalists sometimes get hauled up as a part of risks that come with the profession.
“I got into trouble in the late 1970s for one of my erotic stories and there was an obscenity trial against me for two years in Bombay. But I never made a fuss about it. The publisher fought the case and in the end I got an honourable acquittal. That was the end of it but I never made a big thing out of it,” he quipped.
With intimacy and candour, Bond vividly recalls his life in “Lone Fox Dancing”. Full of anecdotes, warmth and gentle wit, also containing over 50 photographs, it is a book of quiet and enduring magic, like Ruskin Bond himself.
The author lamented the fact that not all non-fiction books are literary today. Even non-fiction and memoirs, he said, should have a literary standard and content.
“It’s partly the fault of publishers because they tend to think from the commercial point of view. They want to publish memoirs and auto-biographies of celebrities and celebrities are not always good writers and so sometimes they would get somebody else to do the writing. Thus the personal element sort of leaks out of the pages and so does the literary element,” he noted.
While expressing his happiness at the booming Indian publishing industry and much more writing going into print, Bond advised that it was extremely important for every book to be well written. (IANS)