Writings of Ruskin Bond, the writer of the hills, are filled with love for the hills. Rivers flowing through the Himalayan glaciers are both intriguing and intimidating. No wonder Bond is not only in love with the hills but even the rivers that play on its laps. A Song of Many Rivers, is a compilation of the Bond’s river stories.
The sheer range of stories in this collection makes it damn interesting. Some of them fall under the category of travelogues. In the opening story A Song of Many Rivers introduces us to the Himalayan rivers. We know only of Ganga and Yamuna, but the writer also introduces us to their little known tributaries like Suswa. Sacred Shrines Along the Way takes us on the tour of the famous panch badris and panch kedars.
Wilson Bridge resurfaces in this collection. This was a bridge built by one British man called Wilson. He had married a local, who later committed suicide by jumping into the river from the very same bridge which Wilson had constructed. The stories surrounding this bridge have all the quintessential elements of Bond’s writings - setting amidst the nature and colonial period, eccentric Sahibs and guileless locales, a tinge of poignancy and traces of supernatural elements. Every piece in this book will be cherished by a Bond fan. The jewel of the crown is of course The Angry River. I have read this novella in another collection of Bond. But still it continues to enchant me. Combining tragedy and fantasy, thrill and helplessness amidst calamity, this story exhibits what a creative genius Bond is.
This collection is to be treasured by fans of Bond. I wish the typographical errors were avoided. Thought despite these errors Bond doesn’t disappoint.