Summer, reminiscent of the exhaustion of exams finally coming to an end and the bright, chirpy vacations to look forward to. The magic of mangoes and summer delights like reading, writing, playing and of course the trips.

Rohan is jumping with excitement on having heard about his father’s short visit from the cant. The letter from his father has him running around the neighborhood in his birdy pyjamas, broken speech and a big broad smile. But it’s not too long before this bubble of joy bursts owing to the mockery at the hands of the adults and children in his complex. He dawdles back home with a large frown.

The aroma of delicious pancakes doesn’t grab his attention. He quietly walks into his room, latches the door, and sniffles. After a few moments, he crawls to his vintage cabinet and pulls out a book. He adjusts his spectacles, and leafs through it. A smile appears. Right at that moment, there is a knock on the door. He quickly puts the book away and unlatches the door. Rohan’s mother walks in with a scrumptious breakfast for him. She figures he is upset and has an inkling as to what must have happened.

Kajal: Little Major Rohan Sinha, we are brave and wonderful, no one should have the power to bring a frown on our face.

Rohan: But Maa…Maa I dhon’t like it when dey make flun of me. (But Maa…Maa I don’t like it when they make fun of me.)

Kajal (looks at Rohan with love and tells him): Well, they don’t understand that you are such a bright, sensitive and a loving little gentleman. Now, don’t you want to make something for daddy?

Rohan: Ees! Ees! I want tu raith dadda a long latta. (Yes! Yes! I want to write Dadda a long letter.)

Kajal: Then you better get to it and tell him everything about your year at school, okay? And don’t forget to tell him about that lovely trip your school took you to in Dehradun.

Rohan gets busy penning down his letter and decorating it with some pretty snippets of nature. Excited to hand over the letter to his father, he tucks it into his favourite book and places it beneath his pillow.

A new day arrives and Rohan wakes up to see three new books ribboned up and placed next to him. He smiles and yells, “Dadda…Dadda!” and runs with his letter to the living room, but he overhears his parents arguing about him. The book slips from his hand and he runs back into his room.

Shekhar rushes towards Rohan’s room only to find it locked. He says. “Champ, please open the door?”

Rohan responds in a fit of anger and pain, “No..No..Nobady lavs me anymoh. Evyone sa..sa says I am lu..lusa.” (No…No…Nobody loves me anymore. Everyone says I am a loser.)

Shekhar tries his best to pacify Rohan, but his efforts don’t bear fruits. He hangs his head with disappointment and just says, “Champ, we all love you.”
There is just silence at the other end. Meanwhile, Kajal keeps the book before Shekhar and tells him about Rohan’s letter.
Shekhar, without any delay, starts reading it. After reading his innocent jibber-jabber, he finds an important P.s. at the bottom – “Dadda, remember you asked me what I want to become when I grow up? I’ve left my answer in your study room.”

Shekhar paces to his study room and sees a sweet scrapbook lying on his desk titled the ‘The Mountain Quill’

He opens the book and reads on
“Dadda, today I want to share with you about a very special person…”

Shekar reads on…

He is 86 years old and so wonderful.
He loves to write stories for children and has been writing for 70 years.
Yes Dadda, so many years.
I read about him on the internet also and picked the most interesting things about him to share with you. Mummah helped me and explained the big words and sentences. I am still learning, Dadda. Sorry Dadda, I wanted to write about him but my writing is not too good.

Dadda, meet my friend, Ruskin… when you are away his stories keep me company.
Like you, Ruskin’s dadda also used to be away, so Ruskin used to read books and enjoy stories like me.

Ruskin’s Childhood
Amused by the way words could transport a person and work like a soothing balm for the soul, Ruskin had been attached to stories since childhood. He shared a deep and loving bond with his biological father. Aware that there were no bookshops around his house in Jamnagar, Ruskin’s father would get him books all the way from Bombay.
When he lost his father at a young age, Ruskin had to grapple initially while trying to adjust to his new family setup. The reserved boy found his refuge in a dusty book-shelf, in a mountain house and began sharing his thoughts through writing. By the age of 16 he had written his first short story – Untouchable.

Ruskin – The Santa With Stories

Ruskin, who grew up in the mountains and currently lives in Landour – Mussoorie, has so much love for nature that one can literally feel the pictorial landscape through his writings. Once when asked by a kid as to what would like to be reborn as…Ruskin responded with childlike delight – “A parrot on a mango tree!”

Ruskin’s first novel – The Room on The Roof was published in 1956 and fetched the Word Wizard of Dhun the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize.

Painting his words onto pages, there is no pause for this visual writer. His memoir, which is still a work in progress, has 4 installments currently to it, Looking for the Rainbow, Till the Clouds Roll By, Coming Round the Mountain, Song of India, each chronicling his journey to boyhood. His contribution to children’s literature in India has been lauded by several official bodies.

Taking on the world with a Pen
Ruskin opened up about his thoughts at a boarding school when he found himself grabbing everyone’s attention with his funny verses, limericks and tid-bits of interesting writing. Though writing wasn’t a career many sought at the time, Ruskin knew in his heart all along that he belonged to the words, and they to him.

I love my India
Despite being of British descent, Ruskin had always been attached to his roots in India. Infact, when he received the advance for his first novel, he used that money to come back to India from England. Today, his heart is nestled where nature’s bounties are plentiful and he gets to have frequent interactions with the readers at shops tucked away in the mountain nooks.

A piece of advice
At 86, Ruskin has shown through his work how he flowed into solitude from loneliness. From weaving melancholic writings during his youth, given his personal journey of unrequited love – to beautifully etching cheerful characters, he has kept the wonder and curiosity alive in his heart.
If you are a writer, looking for a piece of advice from the man who created Rusty, he’ll smile cheek to cheek and say – “Write it in your head first.”

Shekhar is stumped reading his son’s beautiful scrapbook filled with pictures from Ruskin’s story books, scribbles and research (which he knows Kajal must have put together). He wells up and turns to the last page.

“Dadda, I want to be like my friend. I want to be a writer. I know I cannot talk properly. I know people will not stop laughing. So I want to write, so they can hear me and my stories.
Dadda, I want to be like Ruskin.”

Shekhar’s tear ducts give away. A few moments later, he walks to his personal cabinet, sits on the floor and pulls out a book from his childhood collection. A bookmark falls. It reads – ‘Let no man take your dream away.’ – Ruskin Bond. He turns it over and finds his childhood scribbling stating – I want to be a writer.

Shekhar is at a complete loss of words on seeing Rohan’s innocence, resilience and a moment of reflection about his own dream. He gets onto Google to do a couple of things. Shekhar walks out of the room, and tells Kajal to get the bags ready for a vacation. Kajal is slightly taken aback.

Shekhar heads towards Rohan’s room and slips a note under Rohan’s door.
It says – We are going on a vacation, pack your bags.
Rohan (who has calmed a bit by now) responds with another note – Where?
Shekhar replies – It’s a surprise.

Rohan is kept in a blindfold throughout the journey. Kajal by now has a hint of things.
It’s not long before Rohan finds himself outside Ruskin Bond’s house, waiting to greet him with a big broad smile and a balloon.

He jumps around as if he has spring in his feet and pauses. “But why da balloon?” (But why the balloon?), he asks…

“Because it’s my Birthday,” says Ruskin. “Oh and there is some delicious cake too. Would you like to cut it with me?”

Rohan (excitedly) : Ees! Ees! I want kate! But can mummah an dadda eet tu? (Yes! Yes! I want cake! But can Mummah and Dadda eat too?)

Ruskin: Oh yes, yes, of course, I can’t eat such a big cake all by myself. I need my friends. Aren’t you my friend, Rohan?

Rohan (excitedly) : Ees! Ees! (Yes! Yes!)

Ruskin: But do you know who is your bestest friend? …Your Daddy. You know, he called me and told me about your book – The Mountain Quill. He even sent me the pictures and told me how you want to become a writer. You know what Rohan? You are very smart, cute, kind, loving and you love books. I have no doubts that you will be a very good writer. Yeah?

Rohan (smiling cheek to cheek) : Eessss! I want tu be like you. (Yesssss! I want to be like you.)

Ruskin: Well, you will be better than me and I am sure your Daddy agrees.

Rohan looks at his Dadda swelling with pride and happiness.
He leaps to give him a tight hug.
Shekhar smiles with contentment as he sees his childhood dream finally coming true.