BOOK REVIEW: RUSKIN BOND: Captain Young’s Ghost–Ghostly Tales from the Indian Hills

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Khidki (Window)

–Read India Initiative—

This is only an attempt to create interest in reading. We may not get the time to read all the books in our lifetime. But such reviews, talk and synopsis will at least convey what the book is all about.

    Neither can book lovers, step out of their homes, nor can they, order books online, due to the lockdown. So in this period of utter dilemma let me take you through an interesting book titled ‘Captain Young’s Ghost’ –Ghostly Tales from the Indian Hills by none other than Ruskin Bond. Friends, he is one author who has a universal appeal. He is read both by children and adults. Surely … there’s something about him.

    Ruskin Bond has created many unforgettable characters in his novels among them are ghosts and spirits that haunt the hills and foothills of the Himalayas. These ghosts are not always horrific. They are mysterious and often benevolent, or lonely creatures looking for company among humans. The collection in this book are new stories. The publisher is Speaking Tiger. Year of publication is 1918. It is available in all online stores.

    The book in all has, over twenty stories. Superb for light reading and also as bedtime stories. It’ll not be possible for me to relate to, all the stories in this short clip. But yes let me give you a glimmer of the title story that is, Captain Young’s Ghost.

    ‘Captain Young’s Ghost,’ is a story, set up, in the hills of Mussoorie, Barlowganj and Landour. It’s written in first person. Where, the narrator is sitting in a bar enjoying his Martini. It’s a cold day in February, and it’s been raining all along, when a person a visitor who looks familiar to the narrator walks up to him and requests if he can join him as the bar-cum-restaurant is practically empty. The narrator doesn’t say no.

    Thereafter, the visitor orders whiskey. The barman gives him a choice ‘Indian or Scotch.’ But the man orders Irish whiskey. The barman declines. He says, ‘No Irish, sir. Only Scotch is available.’ Finally with a certain amount of distaste the person settles for a Scotch.

    Thereafter the person settles in his chair, scans across the room, which is largely empty except for a pianist in the far corner, tinkling away to glory. He asks, ‘Why do they call it, Captain Young’s Bar? That’s an Irish name. Does he own this place?’ The narrator says no.

    Thereafter, the visitor, and the narrator, get into an interesting conversation. They discuss Captain Young at length. The narrator describes the military lives of one General Gillespie and Captain Young both in British Army, when there is a sudden commotion outside.

    It so happens that there is one Mr Foster whom the hotel has hired for a unique rendition. He often comes on a horse dressed as Captain Young’s Ghost, to entertain guests since it is perceived that Captain Young’s ghost is harmless. But since Mr Foster on that very day stumbles off his horse which is actually a pony the secret is unintentionally let out that Foster indeed is the protagonist dressed as Captain Young’s Ghost.

    In the meanwhile the Assistant Manager of the hotel asks the narrator if liked Mr Foster’s show. Narrator says he didn’t. But by the time he returns to his table in the bar he finds to his surprise that the person or the visitor who had joined him for a drink has vanished and he was heard saying, ‘he had  seen enough nonsense for one evening.’

    Finally, the narrator too, leaves the bar and while walking up the hill he comes across an old acquaintance Bahadur the chowkidar who recognises him as Captain Young’s Ghost and knows that he is harmless. But he comments, ‘sir how come you are not in uniform today and without your horse.’

    The story closes with the narrator walking up the steep hill. The mist gradually lifts and the moon comes out where he finds his white horse waiting for him as a homeless ghost, just like his master. He realises he shouldn’t have gone away to England, for this was the town he had created, and he should have breathed his last years here. Unfortunately that did not happen, so he keeps returning to his beloved town.

    The book overall is extremely interesting especially if you like short stories. I like them hell of a lot. I would give the book seven out of ten.

By Kamlesh Tripathi

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https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

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Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Our posts are meant for our readers that includes both children and adults and it has a huge variety in terms of content. We also accept donations for our mission. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

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Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

RHYTHM … in poems

(Published in January 2019. The book contains 50 poems. The poems describe our day to day life. The book is available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

MIRAGE

(Published in February 2020. The book is a collection of eight short stories. It is available in Amazon, Flipkart and Notion Press)

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

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