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Book Review: Animals on the Track by Ruskin Bond

‘Animals on the Track’ is a short story by Ruskin Bond. Ruskin and his grandparents are moving to a new home in Lucknow. With them are some animals, grandfather books tickets in the first class compartment so that animals can also be transported without causing disturbance to other passengers, as in the first class crowd is comparatively less. With them they take a teenage tiger called Timothy, a parrot who speaks a lot, and Ruskin picks up a squirrel in his pocket.



They are going to Lucknow on a train. Animals are quite and behaving well except the squirrel that is running pell-mell to get roasted ground nuts from passengers. The squirrel often comes to Ruskin and hands him some roasted nuts. Soon, when the grandmother retires on the upper berth, Ruskin opens the bag placed under the berth for food. Upon opening it, he finds that a curled up python is resting inside it. The snake has eaten up all the sandwiches and other food items except the apples. Python was not included into their journey plan; well it somehow got snuggled in the bag. Grandpa and Ruskin quietly close the lid of the bag in order to keep it away from grandmother who literally loathes the reptiles.

They all go for sleeping. After some time, there arises commotion in the compartment…people have been shouting saap…saap. Grandfather realizes the situation and then soon gets up to tell people that he understands the behavior of animals. He calmly catches the snake from the wash basin, puts it again in the bag, and this time he closes the lid very tightly. On the other hand, grandmother gets up angrily and puts the blame of bringing the snake into the train on grandpa.

In the morning when they reach the new home, Aunt Mabel faints down as soon as she opens the bag. Grandfather releases the python in the garden. Upon her recovering, grandfather says her that was something like illusion due to heat in her mind. After that everyone begins laughing aloud. Carrying animals while journeying is a tough proposition, only experts can do this work without getting disturbed.

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