Our Trees Still Grow In Dehra comprises 16 engaging semi-autobiographical stories tracing the exciting journey from the master storyteller’s childhood to the present. Ruskin Bond was awarded the most prestigious Sahitya Academy Award for this book in 1992.
Most of the stories are from Ruskin Bond’s growing up years. The journey begins from Java and reaches India while giving the readers a tour of Bond’s beloved towns and villages located in the Himalayan foothills. In its introductory story, Maplewood, Bond took us to Maplewood Cottage in Mussoorie, where he wrote many of his stories. He expresses his pain at seeing the place lose its natural beauty owing to modernization. He pines for Maplewood and its sweet people and cherishes the memories associated with that place.
In the first story, Escape from Java, Bond narrates the tale of his escape from an island that was under the potential threat of being acquired by the Japanese during World War II. He narrated the struggles he faced along with his father while escaping from that dangerous island. He also talks about the changed outlook of the native people due to the ongoing war. The ordeal ended with reaching Dehradun safely.
There are some stories that are about the people he encountered in his day-to-day life, like the second story of the book, Bent Double Beggar, which was about a man named Ganpat who has words of profound wisdom to share. ‘The Last Tonga Ride’ tells the story of the tonga man and author’s dost Bansi. Calypso Christmas narrates Bond’s Christmas celebrations in his lodgings with his friend George from Trinidad. The story titled From Small Beginnings shares the struggles of an innocent young man Prem, from the nearby hills, and The Good Old Days is a tale of poignant memories.
Then there are stories that narrate Bond’s loneliness after his father’s demise and how he found solace in nature and the life of the hills. They record his emotional bond with the trees and the hills and his concerns also about the ill effects of modernization on the beautiful Himalayan hills and towns. Ruskin Bond believes that the hills have always been kind to a struggling writer like him, and this expression of gratitude by this great writer is prominently visible throughout his stories in this book.
Our Trees Still Grow In Dehra is about the reminiscences of Ruskin Bond’s childhood and the struggling years, the people and places where his life and writing flourished. The book’s tone is mixed; melancholic in some places and uplifting in others. Language is very casual but heart-touching. This book will stay with the reader for a long period of time. Of all his books, this can be called the one with the maximum amount of autobiographical influence. The vivid descriptions and the magic of his storytelling make you feel like you are living the pain, longingness, and the love that he was going through while writing the stories. Overall, a brilliant read and a must-have book for your precious collection.
I hope you enjoyed reading this review! Don’t miss your chance to explore the 63 most extraordinary narratives by Ruskin Bond.