This poem evokes the melancholy of past life. If you read Ruskin Bond’s books, you will get introduced to his territory that worked as a backdrop for his work. This poem throws reminiscent of Ruskin’s young life when he came to Mussoorie or in the hills of Himalayas as a child. In this poem, he has mentioned about the places like Rajpur and Jharipani – these small villages are situated around Mussoorie. As a nature lover Ruskin often goes for walking to the hills, along the streams and rivers. Well, a lot of time has changed since his youth days – he has grown old and probably cannot walk to the same hills the way once he used to do.
But still, through this poem it is expressed that despite all odds he has managed to reach up the hill. From the point, he sees the river flowing down to the plains, his old memories lay flat down in the ravine and in this beautiful moment he feels as all his teenage friends are there with him. It is a beautiful poem about the time of youth – the vagrancy and inquisitiveness of youth is evident like crystal clear waters of mountain streams. It is sad to observe that old age debilities the aspirations that we see as a young person and longs continue them all life. Well, life has to move on…
Remember the old road,
The steep stony path
That took us up from Rajpur,
Toiling and sweating
And grumbling at the climb,
But enjoying it all the same.
At first the hills were hot and bare,
But then there were trees near Jharipani
And we stopped at the Halfway House
And swallowed lungfuls of diamond-cut air.
Then onwards, upwards, to the town,
Our appetites to repair!
Well, no one uses that old road any more.
Walking is out of fashion now.
And if you have a car to take you
Swiftly up the motor-road
Why bother to toil up a disused path?
You’d have to be an old romantic like me
To want to take that route again.
But I did it last year,
Pausing and plodding and gasping for air
Both road and I being a little worse for wear!
But I made it to the top and stopped to rest
And looked down to the valley and the silver stream
Winding its way towards the plains.
And the land stretched out before me, and the years fell away,
And I was a boy again,
And the friends of my youth were there beside me,
And nothing had changed.
By Ruskin Bond