‘Time Stops at Shamli’ is one of Ruskin Bond’s many innovative creation. The book comprises several stories which are worth reading. The author shows his versatility in different domains of genre which varies from lamentation to wittiness, stoic to suspense, vengeance to philanthropy with a note of specific human emotion making its ubiquity in each of his stories.
Time Stops at Shamli: If you are a traveller by heart. Cherish to travel through the ‘ethos and pathos’ of life, then this story by Ruskin Bond might recreate a sense of stoicism in your heart. Story’s climax, character imagination and linguistic description are really fantabulous. It begins with a tiresome railway passenger and his sudden desire of exploring an unknown town called Shamli at the Siwaliks. There lies a cunning Tongawala, a dilapidated lodge-owner Mr Satish Dayal, a frustrated yet loyal housekeeper Daya Ram, a pensive and lamenting Mr Lin, an adroit and pompous Miss Deeds, dreamy and docile Kiran and last but not the least, ever charming, charishmatic and capricious Sushila. Read the story to taste the tune of melancholy, joy, grim, lust and serendipity.
A room of many colours: Master Bond, stays with his father, an Ex-Defense personnel from England in an erstwhile pre-independent Indian palace. The story speaks of young Ruskin Bond’s memoirs of certain characters like Aya- a magnanimous and enthusiastic lady, Dukhi – a docile gardener, Rani – a young princess suffering from trepidation and travesty of unknown past. Her only solace seems to be a room of many colors in her palace, where she finds momentary ecstasy in the fallacy of various colours. In a broader perspective you will find here characters of different colors, all intertwined to unveil certain uncertain dream and destiny of life. You will find here instances of happiness, afterlife, hope, despair and cognizance of mankind.
Most Beautiful: Life is a complex paradox. Sometimes a change in perception and thought can upgrade our view and vision towards others. The story speaks of Suresh, leading a poignant life due to social paranoia. He is suffocated by a perilous and inhuman atmosphere as an effect of subtle mental retardation of him since birth. Young Bond sees him as an endangered species, scolded and humiliated by family and friends. Due to physical and mental lassitude, his body language and behavior towards outside world happens to be in obnoxious state, which the author empathizes and thereby makes an arduous attempt to change his lifestyle and viewpoint towards life. Will he be succeeded in his solo objective? What will be Suresh’s reaction towards the sudden kindness and magnanimity? Why Suresh has been anointed as ‘most beautiful’ by the pacific author?
The Tunnel: There is always an other side of everything we endeavor in our day to day life. The story speaks of Ranji, a young, adventurous boy and his bohemia lifestyle. Kishan Singh, the railway watchman who leads a solitary yet peaceful life nearby a tunnel in the forest, far away from any human perturbation. Despite being a railway employee, the watchman bears certain responsibilities towards the forest life. Ranji observes how the watchman tries his utmost to save the life of a leopard from a running train? How a person can lead an ascetic life overcoming all the imbibing emotions of love, entertainment, amusement and security of urbanity?
Whispering in the dark: A lost expeditor takes shelter in a dilapidated house. Stormy night and heavy drizzle outside, he tries to find the ultimate solace in a vacant bed. To his utter dismay, he encounters certain haunted instances which can only be felt but cannot be described. He tries his level best to stay calm and composed but cannot get accustomed to the demand of situation. A paranormal ambience prevails in the house which tries to grab the author with all its might. A somehow escape from the grotesque situation creates a lifelong insidious effect on the mind of the author which he always regrets to recall.
Eyes of the Cat: This story speaks of vengeance, vindication, revenge and acrimony. Binya, a poor girl by economy and poorer girl by academic standards eats a humble pie when her tutor threatens her of termination from school. An uncanny atmosphere engulfs the entire situation when her tutor is found dead at the hand of a leopard? Is it a planned or unplanned murder? Is it a matter of Binya’s begrudge? Read the story to find the answer.
A crow for all seasons: Crow seems to be the cunning creature and this story deciphers crow’s perception about human and humanity. A life of a crow might seems very dull, ugly, full of vulnerability but it might not be true the other way round. Here a crow reciprocates as a proof of change in human nature from persecutor to protector. How does a trivial nitty-gritty creates a tantamount effect to normal human lives, the story speaks of. One must read the story to feel the real essence of life and its chutzpah amidst utter uncanniness.
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