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Book Review: Gone Fishing by Ruskin Bond

Gone Fishing by Ruskin Bond is a short story based on the trust between a faithful servant and a house owner. The name of the house was ‘Undercliff’ because it stood under a cliff and it was owned by Robert Astley. Robert was a bachelor in his thirties; instead of getting married he chose to be a nomad and traveller, free from worldly responsibilities.

Leaving the house under the care of Prem Bahadur, who had been serving the family for well over thirty years, he went away. Before going he instructed Prem Bahadur to keep the house maintained, and for that every month Prem Bahadur would collect money from his lawyer Mr. Kapoor. Initially, he used to return home like in a year or so. But since a long time he had not come. He was seen in Sri Lanka, then in Burma, and then in Java and after that there came no news of him. Well, Prem Bahadur’s dedication didn’t wince even by an inch. He continued to keep his dressing gown and slippers ready. He always waited for him optimistically. He would come any time – Prem always thought.

Much time passed: in fact many years passed by. He didn’t come. Prem Bahadur had grown an old man of sixty and sick – he continuously suffered from chest pain. When Robert was home, they would go out for fishing and hunting and spend many days together under the sky and eat from the same pot. Once they both got washed away by a flood wave. They had been swept downstream. Robert saved him.

In the verandah on a cot lay Prem Bahadur, the grass in the garden had grown beyond its reach. It needed pruning. He saw Robert coming to him. Prem got up and took him around the house. Robert was happy and said that he had come back to take him along for fishing. As they came out, Prem Bahadur found an old man lying on the cot – he was dead. It’s me – he exclaimed! Robert nodded in agreement and then said that I had left my body years ago, it was just that I was waiting for you. Both men’s soul then went away for old-day adventures, fishing, and hunting.


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