The present paper is a humble endeavour to map the familial and friendly association in literature with special reference to Ruskin Bond’s select stories of No Man is an Island (2013), a collection of short stories and poems. The lineage and genealogy of literature display that Bond is not the first author to write, to narrate and to exhibit the ebullient ambience of family and friendly folks. Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales” marvellously archive the collective enterprise of his twenty nine characters who friendly embark upon the journey from the Tabard Inn to Thomas Bicket’s Church. The present paper underscores the chore of friendship in family and family in friendship which is the verisimilitude of individualistic as well as pluralistic lives.
Key Words: Family and friendship in Literature, Ruskin Bond, No Man is an Island, and Children’s literature etc.
Quintessentially, the substratum of family and friends has always been in the state of flux and fluid. The postmodern society has shifted its focus from the pluralistic to the individualistic state as Bond himself writes in his recently published book, “... every man and woman is an island” (Bond, 2013: ix). People with such atypical motive have observed, perverted and moved from pillar to post especially in search of spatial locations and livelihood. They keep on moving; moving for the survival—for the “survival of the fittest”. It knows no natural avalanches, drought and flood. Hence, family and friends both fall apart. They are fragmented, fissured and live unfriendly as it is said ‘rolling stone gathers no mass’. The bizarre situation of human life makes the individual idiosyncratic. Such convulsions of life enervate the natural and magnanimous consortium between family and friends. The exposé of the very state of affairs of pluralistic lives in literature and celluloid are very common as the said genres emulate and epitomize the society. The present paper is a humble venture to map the familial and friendly liaison in literature with special reference to Ruskin Bond’s selected stories of No Man is an Island (2013), a collection of short stories.
The lineage and genealogy of literature display that Bond is not the first author to write, to narrate and to exhibit the ebullient ambience of family and friendly folks. Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales” marvellously archive the collective enterprise of his twenty nine characters who friendly embark upon the journey from the Tabard Inn to Thomas Bicket’s Church. Shakespeare’s friendship with Mr. “W. H” has been the subject matter of his first 126 sonnets that were addressed to the latter. The close male relationship has been the “recurring fascination” (Hiscock 179) in Shakespeare’s The Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Merchant of Venice and Twelfth Night though such relationships were marked as “explicitly homoerotic” (Hiscock 178) by the critics worldwide. Many poets have been in friendly relationship and the same has been reflected in their creative feats also. Romantic and Victorian poets have been popular worldwide not only for their friendly relationships but also their poems based on the same. Such relationships have been contextually fictionalized. Charles Dickens is considered to be the master story teller not of his age but also of present century as many of the present authors like Naipaul have candidly confessed him as their literary Guru. The ethos of the family, the values of friendship and the gentility of neighbourhood are sketched not only in the Anglophone literature, but also in the Indian English narratives which have bounteous testimonies of the said interpretation that bestow “Jouissance” to the pan-Indian reader.
India has attracted so many authors from the West who have come to research and write about India—Kipling, Forster, Naipaul and most recently Patrick French, William Dalrymple, Ian Jack and Paul Theroux etc. India has been the birth land of widely acclaimed authors and novelists like George Orwell, W M Thackeray, and Rudyard Kipling and of so many authors of the Indian Diaspora—Rushdie, Desai, Seth, Ghosh, Tabish Khair and Amitava Kumar and so on. Born in the UK and settled in Mussoorie, Ruskin Bond is the only white skinned author who is enlisted in the Indian English Literature. Blurb of the book is appropriately quoted here, “Born in 1934, Ruskin Bond grew up in Jamnagar, Shimla, New Delhi and Dehradun. Apart from three years in the UK, he has spent all his lives in India, and now lives in Mussoorie with his adopted family” (blurb of No Man).
Bond began his career as an author with his master piece, The Room on the Roof, published and won the John Llewellyn Rhys award in 1957. His writing career spans more than six decades with his recent publication, No Man is an Island, a collection of twenty one short stories. The book begins with the first short story, “Untouchable”, written in the backdrop of the friendship between two boys from the different background—one from sweeper cast and the other is the son of ‘brown sahib’—can be said that two different poles. Written in the first person narrative, the story tells the saga of eponymous subject. The narrator has been warned by his mother, “Don’t play with the sweeper boy, he is unclean. Don’t touch him. Remember, he is servant. You must come and play with my boys” (2). The sweeper boy is reasonably analogous to M R Anand’s Bakha, the protagonist of his novel, Untouchable (1935). The story interprets Bond’s anti-colonial and humanist sense when the narrator adamantly denies playing with the sahibs’ children. He says, “I was the son of a ‘sahib’ and convention ruled that I did not play with servant children. But I was just as determined not to play with the other sahibs’ children, for I did not like them and they did not like me” (2). This statement displays Bond’s liberal humanist approach despite hailing from the West.