The Night Train at Deoli & Other Stories – Book Review

"People often ask me why my style is so simple. It is, in fact, deceptively simple, for no two sentences are alike. It is clarity that I am striving to attain, not simplicity. Of course, some people want literature to be difficult and there are writers who like to make their readers toil and sweat. They hope to be taken more seriously that way. I have always tried to achieve a prose that is easy and conversational. And those who think this is simple should try it for themselves."

— Ruskin Bond.

Ruskin Bond's 'The Night Train at Deoli and Other Stories' takes you to a time long ago, a world away from now, tinged with nostalgia and that hint of melancholy that you feel on a winters night when the cold seeps into your bones and you face lost dreams and innocent hopes of childhood through the words written on the page.

The Night Train at Deoli & Other Stories
The Night Train at Deoli & Other Stories

For those willing to take a stroll through a bygone era, lost in the mire of urbanism and capitalism, the works of Ruskin Bond are a joy, taking you through the beautiful hills and meadows of India, delighting you with stories of love, loneliness, fondness, all with a hint of melancholic nostalgia, as you go through a time you have just missed by being born just a generation too late.

The Night Train of Deoli & Other Stories is one such book, full of rustic beauty and a certain theme of longing running through them, as you dream of the hills, of the incessant call from atop those misty mountains, with their cold air freezing you, and through his words, you are transported to the hearth-fire in a ramshackle hut, feeling as if you are listening to grandpa’s stories while you sip a cup of hot coffee made by grandma, watching the mists and winds roll along the highlands, painting the world in tones of wispy green and vibrant blue.

As the author himself mentions in the preface of the book, his stories are not about espionage, mystery, suspense or murder. Instead, these are simple stories of simple folk, living in the pure and unspoilt lands of the hills, forests, with their bazaars, all cradled in nature’s lap.

The stories are not only beautifully crafted, they are also poignantly done, and within the span of a couple of pages (the stories rarely run longer than 3-4 pages), Mr. Ruskin Bond is able to take your hand and bring you with him into his world, into the majestic foothills of the Himalayas, where he spent the majority of his childhood and teenage years, where he first forayed into the world of stories, with the mountain divulging their secrets to him and the winds whispering many-a-tales into his ears.

These are tales of a world unsullied, of an era which spoke not of murder and war and thrills, but of quietude, melancholy, wonder, longing, loneliness, and an unknown yearning from the depths of the heart.

The highest praise I can give this book is that it feels like one of the legendary Enid Blyton’s books, but instead of the United Kingdom, it is one set in the beautiful mountains of India.

If you are a first time reader, new to the art of reading, pick up this book, I assure you that you won’t be disappointed. And if you are an experienced reader who has yet to read one of Mr. Ruskin Bond’s delightful books, pick this one up, even connoisseurs yearn can do with the magic of his books.

Review by Pritesh Patil