Book Review: The Eyes of the Eagle by Ruskin Bond

Jai comes to his grandparents’ home up in the valley to while away the October holiday. He loves reading books as well as roaming across the jungles in the hills.

At his grandparents’ home, his main task is to take the cattle out for grazing. And to accompany him, is a shaggy, bear-like dog, because of his size Jai and others call him Motu.

The valley in which they take their cattle for grazing is recently terrorized by two big golden eagles. The eagles keep watch on their prey and when things are set they attack silently. Their preparation seldom leaves a way for any error. Pheasants, foxes, snow-cocks, pine martens, and lambs so far have been their victims. The eagles rule the sky – they are bold and equally fearless. And only a skilled hunter can reduce them to ashes. So one day when he was not so careful, busy gathering strawberries, the eagle taking the advantage of the situation attacks a tiny lamb and flies away it. Jai and Motu realizing the horror and loss run after the eagle but to no avail.

Next time when the eagle tries to pick the lamb up, Motu comes to the rescue instantly. The collision between the dog and the eagle was terrific – both receive grave wounds. The lamb has been saved but Motu receives a serious wound in his leg. Jai calls for help – his grandfather and other shepherds come and take away the injured Motu while Jai herds the cattle home.

Without Motu, Jai finds it tough to keep the cattle safe from the eagles. So, his grandfather gifts him a robust stick made of cherry wood. Next time the second eagle comes to pick up a lamb – it is as tall as Jai and its spread wings stretch up to eight feet wide. Jai faces it face to face, its strong talon ripped through the jacket. Jai sweeps the cherry wood stick; it strikes the eagle as an upshot it shrieks out a shrill cry. However, Jai loses the stick from his hand and takes the shelter beneath a thorny bush with the lamb in his hands. He again shouts for the help and this time once again many people, including his grandmother and the injured Motu, reach in time to cover him.

The insights of the hill people and the little troubles that fill them are wonderfully covered in this short story. Ruskin Bond is a master writer when it comes to portraying the Himalayan people and their cultures in which they remain engrossed and intact. The Eyes of the Eagle is superbly written – fantastically high on adventure.