Book Review: A Handful of Nuts by Ruskin Bond

A Handful of Nuts means a few friends who roam around the small town and make each other’s lives tough, if not hell. It is a story of Ruskin Bond by Ruskin Bond – especially when he newly entered into the vertices of adolescent. The story is set in Dehradun – of 1950s – where the narrator lives alone and to accompany him are a few friends who like him are ambitious but empty on pockets. Thus, he being a struggling writer often gives them his money, which he not so frequently receives from newspapers or magazines that publish his work. The only worry of his life is that the pay cheques don’t come regularly. Despite having less money, his life is at large good and going.

Initially hesitant, but soon he develops friendship with a funny Sitaram, son of a washerman. Sitaram is tired of his quarrelsome parents, thus he begins living with him and he proves to be a good and valuable company to the narrator. Sitaram brings pot plants and a pair of trousers and bed sheets for him not with money but by lifting.

Friends like William Matheson, Jai Shankar, and Suresh Mathur are his age but they all have one or more pesky habit which pushes the narrator’s life on a backseat whenever he stumbles upon them, or they meet with him. Vagrancy and infatuation are two inseparable aspects of being young – early 20s. The narrator thinks that in early 20s one needs to have girlfriends and money, otherwise the punch of good life remains missing. And sadly, he has neither of them.

To try his luck, he thinks of Indu – the daughter of the Maharani of Magador. He chases her and also invites her to his birthday party but notices that her mother is interested in rich guys for her daughter. He always dreams about her – fantasizes her in his dreams. But one day he is taken up by her mother – the seductive mother – and he lands up in the bed with her. With this event, all his hopes of marrying Indu vanish away, and he hopes that Indu does not turn out to be like her mother when she grows into womanhood.
On the other hand, the funny Sitaram falls in love with a south Indian girl who works in a circus. Gradually, Sitaram enters into the lives of circus people and helps them with their petty needs, and also manages to win the heart of that girl and joins the circus. When the circus moves to Ambala, Sitaram flees with them in such a hurry that he forgets to bid farewell to his friend, the narrator. This hurts the narrator and he is back to the terms of solitude, and continues his life with writing. But soon Sitaram makes a return complaining that Ambala is too hot to live. But in real, he missed both – the narrator and the sublime weather of Dehradun.

The book is a treat to read. The readers can feel how amazing it is to lead a life in a small town, where the weather never turns off. It is a great bet on humour; vividly brings the reminiscences of simple and engrossing life events of early adulthood from a carefree writer’s life.