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New York City United States of America
Jun 25, 2010 01:59 PM 94957 Views



In my childhood, there used to be a Peepal tree near my place; very old even older than my father. In a way, it was our tree; we used to play under it. Its trunk was so wide and big with number of cracks and cavities, that it was perfect for Hide and Seek. It was easy to ascend and we used to spend quite a lot of time hanging and dangling on its branches and last but not the least it used to provide perfect sleep in summer times when there used to be no electricity in town.

Then, came a day, when sky was total black with clouds all around - with no sign of moon and stars – and there were lightening and thundering. Wind was blowing like never before. All through the night we heard strange sounds of wind and rain, we were so frightened in our bed – me and my brother – clinging to our quilts, that we hardly had any sleep that night. Next day, when rain was over we ran excitedly towards the tree - for our daily visit - only to find a group of men surrounding the dead body of our friend, and some of them had already begun cutting its branches and trunk wood. Big Peepal trees still remind me of that tree, but it’s this book “Angry River” that reminded me of that night, that unpleasant night.

ABOUT THE STORY :In the middle of a big a river, a small island existed, and there lived Sita with her Grandparents. Their only possessions were 3 goats, some hens, a small vegetable patch – which provided with food enough to carry on, and there was their only tree, a Peepal tree.

When bad time comes it knocks on all doors. During the month of Monsoon, on one of very cloudy day, grandmother gets very ill and grandfather has to take her to the Hospital. Sita is left alone in the house - a mud hut in the centre of the island supported by a big rock as one of the wall – and has to take care of the belongings. But soon after the departure of Grandparents river gets angry and swirls around the island with huge volume of water arriving from the mountains; slowly and slowly the island begins to drown itself in the river water and Sita has to climb the Peepal. But Peepal, who had stood tall during the 50 years of its life, groaned and shook in the strong wind and heavy rain and lefts its place on the island and joins the river carrying Sita with her.

How Sita survives the anger of rain and river, does anyone comes to help and save her? Will she ever meet her family again forms rest of the story.

ABOUT THE CONTENTS :Story is interesting, but I only wished Ruskin Bond had covered it in more details. Book is so small that it seems like a review itself. Ruskin has beautifully covered the nature related facets of the story; the river, the island, and the wrath that Monsoon brings with it. We all know how hazardous and prevailing Rivers can become in the monsoon times and people living nearby have to pay the price for it. Though Ruskin has covered this aspect a bit, but it would have been great if more coverage has been given.

Sita’s being the central character has been covered in details. A small girl of age around 10-12 years shows great courage, strength and smartness in times of need and misfortune. After reading Ruskin for so long now it seems to me that he has the affinity to form the protagonists out of small girls with strong characters.

Sita has great love and friendship with Mumta – a small Doll made up of rag cloths by her grandmother - and shares all her feeling with her. The moment when she comes to know that she has forgotten her in the Hut and finds her floating in the water and moving away with the current of water is somewhat emotional but could have been covered with more sentiments.

The comfort that she gets from the company of a Crow, with nest on Peepal tree carrying her eggs; shows how in the time adversities even a single ray hope can be satisfying. We may differ in our feelings towards solitude when times are good, but in adversities the panic that loneliness brings is unimaginable.

A beautiful relationship between Sita and Krishna, her savior, is another loving aspect of this small book. Ruskin has an excellent ability of making his characters meet in strange and bizarre situations and then forming a wonderful relationship among them.

ABOUT THE BOOK: It’s a very small book – tiny can be perfect word – with only 87 pages of which around 20 pages have illustrations by Trevor Stubley (quite descriptive but quality of sketches is not so good) and on top of that the font size is so big that if you transform it into a normal book it will not form more than 30 to 40 pages. It’s primarily written for children so the words are quite simple and writing is so smooth and easy that one can finish it an hour or two at one stretch itself.

FINAL TAKE : I loved reading this book for its simplicity, Ruskin’s writing and its subject concerning nature. There is nothing that I didn’t like, but I wished it has been covered in a bit more details and characters were given more time and space to develop. But for children – ones who don’t care for details and love reading the story – it can form a good read with its simple but haunting tale.


Take Care and Keep Writing and Smiling

Vikky Gural


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