Book Review: The Blue Umbrella by Ruskin Bond
About the Author:
Ruskin Bond’s first novel, The Room On The Roof, written when he was seventeen, won the John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial Prize in 1957. Since then he has written several novellas (including Vagrants in the Valley, A Fight of Pigeons and Delhi is Not Far), essays, poems and children’s books. He has also written over 500 short stories and articles that have appeared in a number of magazines and anthologies. He received the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1993 for Our Trees Still Grows in Dehra, a collection of short stories, and the Padma Shri in 1999.
In exchange for her lucky leopard’s claw pendant, Binya acquires a beautiful blue umbrella that makes her the envy of everyone in the village, especially Ram Bharosa, the shopkeeper. It is the prettiest umbrella in the whole village and she carries it everywhere she goes.
The Blue Umbrella is a short and humorous novella set in the hills of Garhwal. Written in simple yet witty language, it captures life in a village- where ordinary characters become heroic, and others find opportunities to redeem themselves.
A story of a girl, residing in a village, named Binya, who falls in love with a beautiful blue coloured umbrella after she finds it with the picnickers while searching for her two cows in the glade of the forest. She exchanges her leopard’s claw pendant with the umbrella.
The umbrella is the prettiest umbrella in the village and everyone is envious about it. Binya takes it everywhere- when she goes to the market, when she takes the cows to the forest for grazing, everywhere!
One day she stops by a tea shop at the market. The umbrella is with her. The shopkeeper, Ram Bharosa’s eyes catch a glimpse of the umbrella. He grows affection for it. He offers Binya chocolate in exchange of the umbrella, cunningly. However, Binya refuses to give the umbrella in lieu of anything.
Ram Bharosa yearns for the umbrella. He heirs a boy at his shop, who incidentally gets to know about his desire. The boy makes a deal with Ram Bharosa- if he gets the umbrella to him then he’ll have to give him three rupees. Ram Bharosa agrees; he also mentions if he fails he loses his job.
The boy starts following Binya. One day he finds him in the forest where she’s searching porcupine quills. She keeps the umbrella on the ground and proceeds forward to find the quills. The boy takes the advantage of the moment and steals it. Binya watches him stealing. She runs after him. Her brother, Bijju, sees her chasing the boy and asks what has happened. Binya describes briefly everything. Bijju starts chasing the boy. He catches the boy, fights and asks who has asked him to do this. The boy inculpates Ram Bharosa.
Soon this news spreads in the village. People start boycotting his shop. Ram Bharosa self-realises what a big mistake he has made.
Binya finds Ram Bharosa in misery. She accuses herself of his condition. To compensate this she gives the umbrella to him and buys chocolate from his shop. In return, he gives her a pendant of bear’s claw.
Undoubtedly, Ruskin Sir (I like to call him Ruskin Sir, my way of showing respect to my favourite writer!) is one of the greatest writers on this planet. In fact, one of the finest writers! I didn’t take more than an hour to complete it. Since it’s a children’s story, the language is easy to comprehend and contented. Happiness, humor and cunningness, everything has been concocted to form this heart-lifting story. One should read at least once!