Situated on the outskirts of the valley, Rusty’s house is
surrounded by trees of different kinds—limes, mangoes,
oranges, guava, eucalyptus, jacaranda and the Persian Lilac. His
grandfather, a lean active man of about 60 and a retired officer
from the Indian Forest Service, has a variety of pets, including
a monkey, a tortoise, a python and a Great Indian Hornbill.
His father works
in a rubber firm in Burma and his mother no longer lives with
them. The household consists of women—his grandmother and the
visiting aunts who are not very appreciative of his grandfather’s
All this forms the
small world of Rusty who spends most of his time with the pets
and his grandfather. Though not the adventurous type, strangest
of things keep happening around him, which keeps the reader
glued to the book till end.
representative story of all, and arguably the best, is
"Monkey Trouble." Tutu, the female monkey, enters a
jewellery shop where Aunt Ruby and her fiancé, Rocky, go to buy
a ring. Following the example of others, Tutu tries on a
necklace. No sooner does the shopkeeper realise than it makes
her way into the crowded street, followed by Rusty, Rocky and
the angry shopkeeper. Others, who have no idea of what it is all
about, too, join the chase. Finally, Tutu, tired as it was,
flings the necklace into the canal, much to the relief of the
jeweller who ultimately retrieves it.
The monkey trouble
ends on a happy note. Aunt Ruby gets married and is all set for
her honeymoon, of course without the troublesome Tutu. But there
is more for Rusty who leaves for Java to visit his father.
Back in Dehra,
there is Uncle Ken, granny’s nephew, who cannot stay on a job
for more than two months. Ultimately he decides to stay with
Aunt Emily in Lucknow where he impersonates, Bruce Hallam, a
famous cricketer, for a free lunch at a match. After hitting a
boundary, he goes back to the pavilion with a satisfaction of
having a sumptuous meal and adding another four runs to the
cricketer’s grand total. Bravo! Uncle Ken. Be it the free
tonga rides with Bansi Lal, the mysterious ghost in the garden,
or his friendship with an unfortunate princes in an isolated
tower, Rusty’s life is full of activity.
are destined to change. Rusty’s father dies of malarial
fevers. His mother, who never cared for him, suddenly appears
and takes him away to her house. His world is shrunk to a single
room, a four-walled structure of cement and bricks.
After about a few
months of restlessness, Rusty goes back to his granny’s house.
Half-heartedly, they sell their house (his grandfather had
passed away by then) and leave for England. However, by a
strange turn in circumstances, Rusty comes back to Dehra after
his grandmother’s death.
Rusty’s world is
full of enchantment, we are lucky to experience it, though in
small doses. Written in a lively style, these stories show Bond’s
love for nature and his capacity to derive pleasure from all
that is around him. Even the tiniest of creatures insects—do
not escape his eye. The book is a reminder to a world which has
all but forgotten what nature has in store for it.