Ruskin Bond’s books written for children offer a reading of life which is valid not only for children but for readers of all ages. One of the characteristic features of these books is the subtle but important messages these books contain. And, these messages unquestionably touch the heart of anyone reading the book. This is certainly true for the book under review. The book I am going to review today is The Blue Umbrella. The story in this book is built around the principle of simple irony of circumstances, leading to the shock of discovery at the end.
So what is so amazing about this book? As the title of the book suggests, the story is about a blue umbrella. The story of this book revolves around this object and the entire book hinges on it. The author has woven a symbolic tale of greed and covetousness around this simple object. Binya, a small village girl, trades her fortunate pendant for a blue umbrella she sees with some picnickers who happen to visit her village. This is a village where everyone knows everyone else. This blue umbrella starts to get attention of all the villagers as they had not seen such a beautiful umbrella ever before. As a result, Binya and her umbrella becomes the topic of discussion for entire village and make Binya the envy of everyone in her village. Now, everyone in the village wants to own that umbrella, especially Ram Bharosa (a shopkeeper in the village). He even offers money to Binya in exchange of this umbrella but Binya turns down the offer. Binya does not want to part away with her prized possession. What follows is a splendid portrayal of Binya and her enterprises with the umbrella, and Ram Bhaorsa’s plans to steal the umbrella. Most importantly, the reader gradually discovers the deeper meaning of this tale as the story progresses further. This story does not shake you but gently touches your heart.
The characters of this book have been fleshed out really well. When you read about Binya and her battles with her umbrella, your heart will go out for her. When you read about Ram Bharosa and his tactics to pinch the umbrella, your heart will burn with anger. However, your same heart will cry for Ram Bharosa in the end of the story. And, this is what makes this book a beautiful narrative. This skillfully written tale covers so many dimensions of human feelings that you cannot stop yourself from praising the author. At a general level, this is a simple story of village people. But, at a deeper level, this book makes us stop in our tracks and helps us to become a better person.
Set in the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand, the book is a beautiful piece of writing. The author has not only told an entertaining tale, but also probed into human psychology. While it is a small story, the story exhibits an astonishing range of moods, tones, characters and personalities. Ruskin Bond knows the Indian villages well as can be seen in this book.
Go and read this book if you haven’t read it so far.