I grew up on Enid Blyton and Ruskin Bond’s books. These are the earliest books I remember loving, once I started reading independently as a child. Imagine my joy then, when Penguin India sent me Bond’s latest book to review!
The story itself is an autobiographical memoir of Bond’s life at school through the year 1947. He loves reading, playing football or hockey, eating jalebis, sneaking out of school and having fun with his gang of friends. The Fearsome Four belong to different religions and have distinct personalities. But as Bond puts it, “Adults seem to think it important, but at thirteen, friendship and loyalty seemed to matter more.”
The boys have the usual school challenges- studies, sports, food, new girl in an all boy’s school, sneaking out and getting caught, bonding over spankings, etc. But the boys also encounter partition, choices. separation, death and hope.
Written in Bond’s simple style, the book makes one think fondly of their school days. It made me reminiscent about mine atleast. It also raises important questions on the political history and future of the country. For the first time in my life, I found myself wonder about the little specifics of our country’s independence itself. For example, so many tiny inconveniences like schools closing, people migrating and the time required to stabilise the different systems. That is why I say that anything he writes, is a modern classic. I hope he writes a story on the Fearsome Four real soon.
There are beautiful illustrations to supplement the lingering text that describes both the place and the time setting so well. The title is derived from the song the boys used to sing at school and seems apt once you finish the book. I would recommend this book for children above 7 years. You can buy the book here.