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Book Review: Visitors from the Forest by Ruskin Bond

‘Visitors from Forest’ by Ruskin Bond is a short story about insects and birds that take place shelter during rain in the narrator’s house. When mist veils the mountains and rain sweeps the mountains, animals and birds run pell-mell for shelter. Insects, rodents, and birds find refuge from rain easily as compared to big or wild animals. The narrator of this story is a lonely writer who resides in a small cottage in a forest.

As the rain commences a bamboo beetle, one night, falls into the water jug. The narrator being a kind-hearted person takes it out. Well, after some time, it circles the above the dining table and then again falls into the water jug. He takes it out again. Third time before it lands into the water jug, the narrator covers it. Finding it closed the beetle lands in a basket full of dahlias. There it finds solace and warmth.

Many a time, a thrush sits on the window sill, but it maintains a distance from the writer. She frighteningly sings a song and whenever the writer stands up, the bird flies away. When rain stops it glides away and while enjoying her freedom it bursts into full-throated song.

A squirrel is also a guest at his home. Incessant rain waterlogs the trunk of the oak tree and the dwelling hole of that squirrel. It runs freely at his home and often finds tidbits of food at his dining table.

One day the writer finds an emerald-green mantis stuck on one of his hardcover books – probably eating bugs that destroy the book. He places the mantis in the garden, next to another mantis. Instead of getting friendly, the mantis hurries off.

At one instance, the writer comes across a weird bat. Generally, bats fly high, but this one skims between the legs of chairs and tables. Upon finding its history from one of the nature’s book, the narrator comes to know that this type of bat is rare and under extinction. In 1884, this bat was discovered by Captain Hutton around Jharipani. And he is not so far away from Jharipani, only three kilometers from his home. He is happy that this about-to-extinct bat survives in his cottage. For a writer living alone in the forest, the presence of a strange bat is after all a good company.

Clearly, the theme of the story is nature and it shows how a peaceful man can be friends with birds and weird insects that come seeking shelter in the times of rain.

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