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Book Review: The Tunnel by Ruskin Bond

The Tunnel is a short story written by Ruskin Bond covered in the novella ‘The Road to the Bazaar’. Tranquility in nature and duty are two major themes nicely conveyed in this story. Suraj wants to see the train passing through the tunnel, hence he comes to a small village from Dehradun on a bicycle and from there he walks up to a hill mound. He stands at the exit of the tunnel and when the train enters and passes through and fades away in the distance, he feels the true peace of the jungle. When the train passes through the jungle, the trees tremble in the steam it throws out, the railway tracks lay shivering for some time.

He walks through the tunnel. At the entry is a hut in which lives Sunder Singh, the tunnel watchman, his duty is to check the tunnel before a train passes through it. He does it twice a day, one for the day train and next for the night train that crosses the tunnel at nine. Sunder tells that jungles are peaceful and safer than cities. He was almost run over by a motor when he went to the city last time. Suraj sees that there are no people and houses around his hut. Suraj asks him didn’t he feel afraid of darkness and wild animals. The watchman tells him that there lives a leopard around the hut who likes to pray on goats and dogs, but not on humans. They both see each other quite often.

Next evening Suraj comes to be with the watchman. Just before the night train, they both hear the sound made by the leopard. They have to run the leopard away to save its life. Both go inside with a lantern and an axe just in case it makes mind to attack them. When they shout inside the tunnel, there voice echoes in the tunnel as of hundreds of humans are there. As a result, the leopard flees away.

A week later when Suraj is traveling to Delhi with his father on the night train, he tries to make out the old man and his lantern and his hut, and soon he sees the lantern hanging outside the hut which means he has done his duty of checking the tunnel and retired for the night. Suraj feels gratitude for the watchman who strictly follows his duty for the sake of others and trains in which thousands of passengers exist.

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