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Book Review: Ghost Trouble by Ruskin Bond

Ghost Trouble by Ruskin Bond is a humorous tale of a Pret (typical Indian ghost) who has strong penchant for making people’s lives difficult. The narrator is a small boy who lives with his grandparents. In the compound, beside a road, is a peepal tree on which resides the Pret. He is living there happy. The Pret often disturbs the Tonga riders, passers-by, and throw stones or fruit seeds at the bicyclists to misbalance them. They all look up at the tree to find only a small boy hidden in the branches; they often threaten him with terrible consequences. However, the boy knows that the prankster is none other than the Pret, as he is invisible to human beings so he is always at advantage.

In most of his stories and novels, Ruskin Bond subtly appeals for preserving nature and often cites the consequences when the trees in the city or nearby jungle areas are being cut down for commercialization and personal motifs. On trees like peepal not only birds dwell but sprits too. Clearly in this story when the peepal tree has been cut down to widen the road, the Pret is rendered homeless and forcibly takes shelter in the house of that small boy.

The boy has strong sixth sense so he can feel the presence of the Pret around him; but the Pret is a harmless spirit; hence he enjoys when others get troubled by the ghost. In the house, the Pret doesn’t retreat from making mischiefs, like hiding grandmother’s spectacles, forcing the caged parrot to screech unnecessary, and when guests like Uncle Benji and Aunt Ruby arrives the Pret doesn’t hesitate to make their lives wretched to an extent that they leave well before their schedule, feeling the house haunted.

Ironically, the Pret has developed a good bonding with the boy, thus he remains least troubled and drives fun seeing others worried for no substantial reason. The family calls a sage, sadhu, to throw him out but when the sage is being cascaded with dry petals he runs for his life. They all repent the cutting down of that peepal tree by PWD but when they try to shift to another home, on way the Pret makes voices and leads the grandfather to break the compound wall of one of their neighbors. Realizing the Pret’s willingness to stay with the family, grandfather decides to go back home to continue living with the spirit.

Mostly with ghosts, people hear terrible and bone-chilling stories but Ruskin Bond has simply personified the spirit to narrate a beautiful story which is well liked by children and adults alike. Simple yet engaging narration keeps the story charming.


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