‘It’s the simple things in life that keep us from going crazy,’ says Ruskin Bond in ‘Notes From A Small Room’, and I am bound to agree. In the craziness of everyday life, it is the simple things that touch our heart, reaffirm our faith, and help us retain our sanity. I can’t agree more with Ruskin Bond. Little things like a familiar song or a sudden evening downpour or a beautiful sunset or an unexpected smile or kind word have often made my day, and stopped me from losing my mind over the craziness of the world. It is no wonder, then, that I loved Ruskin Bond’s ‘Notes From A Small Room’, which is all about the simple and small things in life, that give us unparallelled pleasure. How can you not fall in love with lines like ‘I stretch myself out on the cot under a sky brilliant with stars. And as I close my eyes, someone brushes against the lime tree, bruising its leaves; and the good fresh fragrance of lime comes to me on the night air, making that moment memorable for all time.’ or ‘It’s a good sound to read by – the rain outside, the quiet within – and, although tin roofs are given to springing unaccountable leaks, there is in general a feeling of being untouched by, and yet in touch with, the rain.’?
Notes From A Small Room is a collection of short essays – Ruskin Bond’s ode to all the little things that we often overlook in the rush of life. It covers a wide range of things – from Ruskin’s favourite smells and sounds, to little incidents with his family, friends and his cat Suzie that will always remain in his memory, and even his very first typewriter. Ruskin Bond writes about his experiences in Shimla, Dehradun and Landour, and moments when he felt one with nature. He meditates on things like the difference a perfect window makes to a room, his philosophy in life, and his thoughts on reaching 75 years of age. He also reflects on something he has a passionate love for – books.
I could so, so, so relate to the author. I so understood what Ruskin Bond means when he says, ’This morning I was pondering on this absence of a philosophy or religious outlook in my make-up, and feeling a little low because it was cloudy and dark outside, and gloomy weather always seems to dampen my spirits. Then the clouds broke up and the sun came out, large, yellow splashes of sunshine in my room and upon my desk, and almost immediately I felt an uplift of spirit. And at the same time, I realised that no philosophy would be of any use to a person so susceptible to changes in light and shade, sunshine and shadow. I was a pagan, pure and simple; a sensualist; sensitive to touch and colour and fragrance and odour and sounds of every description; a creature of instinct, of spontaneous attractions, given to illogical fancies and attachments.’
The book contains almost 40 entries, each of them short and extremely simple – typical Ruskin Bond style – but none of them failed to get to me. Each piece is a gem, filled with wit, and it feels as if the writer has put his heart and soul in them. Take this for example – ‘I have made a small bench in the middle of this civilised wilderness… this is my favourite place. No one can find me here, unless I call out and make my presence known. The buntings and sparrows grow “accustomed to my face”. And welcoming the grain I scatter for them, flit about near my feet. One of them, bolder than the rest, alights on my shoe adn proceeds to polish his beak on the leather. The sparrows are here all the year round. So are the whistling thrushes, who live in the shadow between the house and the hill, sheltered by a waterwood bush, so called because it likes cold, damp places.’ or this – ‘When the trees saw me, they made as if to turn in my direction. A puff to wind came across the valley from the distant snows. A long-tailed blue magpie took alarm and flew noisily out of an oak tree. The cicadas were suddenly silent. But the trees remembered me. They bowed gently in the breeze and beckoned me nearer, welcoming me home.’
It’s been a long, long time since a book has taken over my heart so completely with delight, and kept me constantly smiling. It has made me more sensitive to nature, to the little things around me, and urged me not make time for the little wonders that life and nature constantly gives us, and to write about them. It made me feel all warm and fuzzy from inside.
I’m charmed by Notes From A Small Room, and am completely head over heels in love with it. This is one book that goes into my library, and stays with me, to be read over and over again, to be shared with loved ones, and passed on over generations. If you haven’t read this one already, grab a copy NOW!
Posted by Priya Iyer