Indian author Ruskin Bond turned 87 a couple of weeks back. For the ‘other Bond’, the licence to love doesn’t come with an expiry date: in an exclusive interview to Khaleej Times, from his home in Landour (near Mussoorie), he speaks about how he’s been dreaming of having “wonderful affairs” as he slept fitfully (he’s been sleeping more than usual) over the quiet statis of Covid protocol, hardly ever stepping out of the house.
Always known to be a great romantic, it’s a bit of a mystery why he never got hitched. Bond tells us why. It seems like he had a penchant for Bollywood-style romantic dramas and high-octane desi values — and he concedes he wasn’t ever “practical”. He wanted to “marry someone [in circumstances] where there would have been too many obstacles in the way. Family obstacles on the girl’s side, you know”. He would have braved his way through and emerged triumphant, paving the way for a ‘happily ever after’. However, he is quick to point out that “obstacles” would have never cropped up from his side, “there was no one to stop me”.
Also, in India, he adds, “It’s usually the family that arranges a marriage, there was no one to speak up for me.”
Having said that, Bond says he came close to getting married twice — but both times, they fell apart.
Maybe, just maybe, he wasn’t much of a catch, he admits. “I never made much money till I was well into my 60s.” Looking back, he points out that since he grew up as a small boy in a broken home — his parents separated when he was all of eight — that could have contributed to him holding back when he could have been more daring and gone ahead with marriage.
But all’s well that ends well. Bond went on to adopt a family, one that looks after him “beautifully”, and he’s been with them for years now. “I ended up with a large family without getting married, as simple as that.”
For India’s most-loved author, love is for the asking.