Book Review: The Blue Umbrella by Ruskin Bond

“The umbrella was like a flower, a great blue flower that had sprung up on the dry brown hillside”.

Ruskin Bond has been awarded many accolades (including Padmi Shri and Padma Bhushan awards) for his published works in English literature. One of his notable and outstanding work is “The Blue Umbrella” written in 1980. This short story has been adapted and recreated in several forms – a hindi movie by the same name, a children comic by Amar Chitra Katha publications, and a children’s Hindi-English play, Binya ki Chatri.

The Plot

Any one will easily fall in love with the simplicity of the protagonist, Binya from the first page itself. Binya belongs to a village in the Himalayas known as Garhwal.  The beauty of this place and the village life leaves the readers awestruck.  The chirpy little sturdy girl has fair skin, pink cheeks, dark eyes, and a pigtail hair, with glass bangles on wrists and a necklace with a leopard’s claw, which was her lucky charm. One day, her attention was caught by some picnickers. One of the lady was carrying a beautiful blue umbrella. “The umbrella was like a flower, a great blue flower that had sprung up on the dry brown hillside”.  Binya was mesmerised and she exchanged her lucky charm leopard’s claw necklace for the umbrella. Soon, she begun to flaunt her priced possession. Binya would not even close the umbrella. It became an envy for everyone especially the shopkeeper, Ram Bharose. Although the umbrella was not of much use to the shopkeeper but the urge to get it was making him restless, to the extent that he sold his integrities and his soul for it. Ram Bharose tried to have the umbrella stolen. Soon everyone loathed him and no one visited his store. The novel takes a beautiful twist when this sweet little innocent girl realises that it was best to part with HER MOST PRICED POSSESSION. And she did! She gifted it to Ram Bharose who was sceptical at first, but later was extremely happy. At this juncture, the story is a beautiful blend of so many emotions –

  • The girl’s realisation that the umbrella pretty much was the cause of Ram Bharose’s devastation and that he needed it more;
  • Ram Bharose’s guilt that his desire had overcome his moral values;
  • The glee of receiving the umbrella as a gift and not by theft experienced by Ram Bharose;
  • The insight by Binya that after all, the umbrella is not everything!

The story ends on a happy note when Ram Bharose after some days, gifts Binya a necklace with a bear’s claw.

A delightful, relatable and an enchanting tale of kindness that keeps the readers hooked onto each and every word.

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