The Room on the Roof

"The light spring rain rode on the wind, into the trees, down the road; it brought an exhilarating freshness to the air, a smell of earth, a scent of flowers; it brought a smile to the eyes of the boy on the road."

These are unabashed fanboy worship five stars. The book is a simple young adult story about a seventeen year old boy discovering adulthood. I cant explain why I loved it so much the way you cant just explain why one loves good music*. As a child one book The Ruskin Bond Children's Omni
"The light spring rain rode on the wind, into the trees, down the road; it brought an exhilarating freshness to the air, a smell of earth, a scent of flowers; it brought a smile to the eyes of the boy on the road."

These are unabashed fanboy worship five stars. The book is a simple young adult story about a seventeen year old boy discovering adulthood. I cant explain why I loved it so much the way you cant just explain why one loves good music*. As a child one book The Ruskin Bond Children's Omnibus by Ruskin Bond made a great impact on me. It shook me away from boredom and made me feel the sunlight filtering through the neem trees and the sting of dust on a broken village road. And for twenty years I kept myself away from the writing of this author, perhaps because I was afraid of the way it would get me vulnerable and weak.But I knew reading Ruskin Bond was going to feel like coming home. In my brain I am going to make room of my own and build poetic adventures of the elements of nature.
"The litchi trees were covered with their pink skinned fruit, and the mangoes were almost ripe. The mango is a passionate fruit, its inner gold sensuous to the lips and tongue. The grass had not yet made up its mind to remain yellow or to turn green and would probably keep its dirty colour until the monsoon rains arrived.
Meena met Rusty under the banana trees."
Written and published in 1957 (YA genre probably wasnt flourishing in the popular form like we know it now) at the age of 19, it reads so much like contemporary YA fiction, except its much more poetic.
"They laughed: but there was no great joy in their laughter, they laughed for the sake of friendship.
"Best favourite friend." said Somi throwing a handful of mud in Rusty's face."
That stuff friendship and humanity like a gust of a warm ether strikes my breath as I read this. Those are the poetic non-words between the

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sentences that all friends feel.Growing up, seeing life in a light of one's own eyes, here goes hand in hand with the rhythms of nature. This book will show teenagers how to find a way to see life, battle its injustices and feel nature in its sensuous and mysterious play.Questions pored over by teenagers/ young adults seem far more important than the ones by adults. Because words here seem to provide the stuff of life, Little Things, as one other author would have said...

"The evening was full of sounds. Rusty noticed the sounds because he was happy and a happy person notices things."
I feel as we grow old, inadvertently gaps in our humanity widen. The words of beautiful and wise books provide fodder for the gaps in our humanity. Perhaps infinitesimally we get to be whole again. Wisdom from nature, in this book seems to seep in gently. And the boy grapples with identity and purpose, me and Others. An Anglo Indian orphan steps across the line, into the bazaar, the small town and the forests of India. How many young adult books are also significant, so glaringly in the post-colonial, context? At the margin of the bazaar - worlds are colliding - Rusty is in the no- man's land - an orphan who looks British but is one with the soil of the place.The patriarchy, parents, culture, nation, powers that be, dictate our margins. They teach us, educate us to define our lives. Alas, to define, is to limit.

Rusty's eyes open to the things allowed and disallowed, the circumstances as they stand, the lines drawn, the indifference and injustices. He can see the world of colors and paradoxes and he crosses the line to know for himself how effortless it was. To know that effort was to know how powers that be terrorize you with their rules, and spankings and intimidations.


"Inside of me" he said , "I'm all lonely."
He is Jane Eyre, alone, bruised and battered in the rain, helpless and directionless. He is Oliver Twist, a symbol of larger than life pure innocence in a violent and indifferent world.A silent brilliant red streak in a dirty green pond. Sometimes he is like Wordsworth seeking refuge in the womb of nature..."like a man/Flying from something that he dreads".

Perhaps coming of age is seeing the true nature of our freedom. Without belongings, money, loved ones, home..... stripped away (quite simply stripping away to see ourselves for what we are, we have to strip away, let go all that is NOT US)Rusty's spiritual poetic growth has now begun.

* good music - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bsdYn... Driving in the rain by Mychael Danna, Girl Interrupted OST

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Category: Review

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