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Book Review: The Room of Many Colors by Ruskin Bond

The Room of Many Colors by Ruskin Bond is a lengthy story, well stretching over thirty pages. This story has no fixed plot – it is rather divided into many subplots and thus handles various circumstances of human lives, like from a child’s pesky questions to a princess’s superstition for snakes to a gardener falling in love with a princess and the days of Second World War. The narrator is Ruskin Bond himself, aged seven. He lives in an old-getting palace with his father. His mother has left him but why – that’s unknown to him. However, he is happy with his father who answers all his clumsy questions.

In the palace, his father is tutor to some elite-class students, they come from royal families. Ruskin wanders here and there catching insects and roams in the palace garden and everywhere. Whenever there is a ceremony or an occasion or a birthday, the palace gardener will prepare beautiful nosegays for the occasion. His name is Dukhi (means sad). There is a Christian Ayah that takes care of Ruskin – she is like a mother to him.

One day the gardener prepares a beautiful nosegay. Though there was no one’s birthday or party in the palace. Ruskin takes that nosegay and walks up to the stairs. There a short-heighted but beautiful queen awaits him, she converses with him. The nosegay was for her from the gardener. The princess locks herself up in that upper room and does not visit anyone. She is a social recluse type of. There they talk and develop a sense of friendliness. Ruskin often visits her. Ruskin’s father says that the princess didn’t marry and preferred to remain aloof because in her youth she fell in love with a commoner i.e. one of the servants. Ruskin senses that her lover is Dukhi. He tries to confirm this with the Ayah but she refused to say anything lest rumours spread in the palace.

Also, the princess is obsessed about saving snakes around the palace as she says to everyone that her lover was a prince who died bachelor, hence he has become a snake in his current birth. He will return – she often affirms and thus prevents people killing any green snake. The bachelor princes take birth as green snakes.

The princess also has a room where there are many windowpanes and every windowpane is covered with a different colour. That is her room of many colours. She is crazy – believes Ruskin.

As the WW-II commences mainly between Germans and British, Ruskin’s father joins Royal Air Force (RAF). This is the time of separation: he goes to his grandmother’s house in Dehradun. One interesting aspect in this story is that in British schools Germans were depicted as stupid guys doing immoral things, such was the animosity between both the countries during the Second World War. The story is nice and easy to read and grasp because of its multi-dimensional views.


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