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Heaven on Earth

Jan 03, 2008 08:28 PM 139054 views



*Author : Ruskin Bond

Pages 81 in large typeface, with several pages devoted to illustrations.

Price Rs.60/- Rupa Publications.

The Blue Umbrellais the story of Biniya, a girl who lives in a tiny Garhwal hamlet.  An Indian tourist, newly married, takes fancy to her bead necklace with a leopard amulet and exchanges it with her blue umbrella that Biniya takes fancy to.  Biniya's umbrella becomes the focal point of her life, and a common envy of the sequestered little village. Ram Bharosa the shopkeeper is particularly enamored of the umbrella.  His apprentice offers to steal it for him.

Ruskin Bond's stories deal with mundane happenings in small towns that take on a curious charm when described in his graceful prose.  Usually his books do not shake heaven and earth.  Likewise, the events of this books are not of garangutan proportions either.  And that is the whole point of it.  We are made to pause in our tracks and take time off our reckless lifestyle to think about an alternate world, a place that is so slow paced that you can feel the seasons go by.

This story is almost biblical.  A perfect Eden where all people co-exist in peace.  The blue umbrella is the temptation, the apple, that all covet.  The serpent, the apprentice who goads Ram Bharosa to commit the sin of stealing. Ram Bharosa falls and loses the love and respect of his fellow being, he is banished from his Eden. Only the forgiveness and generosity of Biniya redeems him and brings him back to his glorious Eden. The story reminds you that heaven and hell are right here, on earth, and of our own creating.

I am quoting a couple of lines from the last parts of the book, when Biniya takes pity on the isolated old man and decideds to break the ban imposed on him and give him the umbrella. Ram Bharosa runs after her and tries to return the umbrella to her.

"But it's such a pretty umbrella!" protested Ram Bharosa. "Its the best umbrella in the village."

"I know, " said Biniya. "But an umbrella isn't everything."

And she left the old man holding the umbrella, and went tripping down the road, and there was nothing between her and the bright blue sky.

I know it is hard to understand a quote fully out of context, but it seems to me that at this point Biniya is one with God, when she gives away the umbrella.  The virtue of giving and sharing undoes a lot of negetivity.

Before you start getting angry with me for giving away the climax, there is more in the book.  The last chapter emphasises the give and take which enhances friendship and makes us the social animals that we are.


The basic idea remains the same, though the movie was more embellished than the book. It took a longer route to the finish line than the book did. It added a couple of episodes which were very gainful for the movie. Also the sequence of occurance is different in the movie. In a story, you can afford to be more descriptive and less dramatic, the movie needed the drama to keep the interest of the viewers alive. The movie had the advantage of the breathtaking visuals and the acting of Pankaj Kapur. The novel has the advantage of the pen of Ruskin Bond, which is unparalleled.

They can be viewed or read independent of each other and have their own charm.  I would say the book and the movie are at par with each other.

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