A brand new poem by Ruskin Bond on the boss lady of his home

The beloved writer shares his scribbles exclusively with My Kolkata and chats about books, ghosts and more

Samhita Chakraborty Published 29.12.21, 04:33 PM

TT archives

Wrapped in woollens and sitting cosily by a heater in his home in the hills, the grand old writer Ruskin Bond had a warm chat with My Kolkata on a cold Wednesday morning. Excerpts…

My Kolkata: A Merry Christmas to you Mr. Bond. How have you been?


Ruskin Bond: A Merry Christmas to you and your readers too. I have been well. I’m working well, writing well, reading more than ever and well-spoiled by my family, there are six people fussing over me. And then there’s Mimi the cat. My goodness, she’s the boss here! She’s a Persian cat, she lost one leg and had to have an operation but she gets around beautifully. She sleeps by day and hunts by night. She terrifies all the mice in the house. In fact, I’ve written a poem about her.

Ruskin Bond's Persian cat, Mimi

Ruskin Bond's Persian cat, Mimi

How lovely! Will you share the poem with the readers of My Kolkata as a Christmas present…

Here you go…


Mimi is our cat,

She sleeps all day

But at night she’s a hunter

She’s up and away

Into cupboards and corners

All over the house

She’s out to confront

A terrified mouse!

Mimi’s no kitten,

She’s seven this year,

But when she’s out hunting

Those mice disappear.

— RB

Bond's ode to Mimi

Bond's ode to Mimi

What else have you been doing? Tell us a bit about your books that came out in 2021…

This year I’ve had a couple of anthologies. One from Penguin called Writing for my Life, which was another sort of ‘best of Ruskin Bond’. Because the last ‘best of RB’ they did was about 15 years ago, so they thought it was time to do another one. It’s a selection of the better things I have done in the last 10 or 15 years. Then Puffin, which is the children’s imprint of Penguin, they also did an anthology called All-Time Favourites for Children. To both these anthologies, I added a few new things too. Right at the beginning of 2021, I did something called How to be a Writer for HarperCollins. That’s doing quite well, it’s amazing how many would-be writers there are! Then there have been some ghost stories, published by Aleph, there are three or four new stories and some old favourites. It's called The Shadow on the Wall.

Two works by Bond that came out in 2021

Two works by Bond that came out in 2021

What’s the nicest thing someone said about your writing in 2021?

Well, two of my stories were selected by an international programme which was putting stories on the air late at night to help people fall asleep. I think it was a double-edged compliment, because I never really wrote those stories with the intention of putting people to sleep (laughs)! I’ve to try and take it in the right spirit.

You said you’ve been reading a lot. Which was your standout read of 2021?

You know, in the last month or two, I’ve been reading a book a day. A lot of it is light reading, crime fiction… but I like biographies too. I read a very interesting biography of Charles Dickens, which throws new light on his personal life, The Mystery of Charles Dickens by A.N. Wilson. Then I just finished A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins, the writer who wrote The Girl on the Train. The new one is a good thriller too.

What about a book you didn’t finish even in 2021…

Sometimes there are books we feel we ought to read, but we struggle with them. I tried reading James Joyce’s Ulysses again. I managed two or three chapters, then gave up (laughs). And then Laurence Strene wrote a novel called The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, which is brilliant in parts but I can never read it from beginning to end. I can only dip into it.

What did Santa Claus bring you in 2021?

About a dozen Christmas cakes and nice warm woollen socks.

If 2021 was a book, it’d be called?

Reaching for the Stars, because so many people are now trying to escape from planet Earth, going off to space!

What book did you work on in 2021?

Right at the moment I am writing a few ghost… not stories, but poems. Poems with a supernatural or spooky feel about them. During this cold winter, the best way to write is to sit here in front of the stove and write nonsense verse.

Do you think ghosts will appreciate your poems?

(Laughs) Well, some of them will be funny ghosts, some of them will be scary ones too. Hopefully it’s going to be some good verse, along with some bad verse. I am enjoying it myself, so maybe a few readers will enjoy them too.

What books do you have lined up for publication in 2022?

In January, I have A Little Book of India coming out. It is basically celebrating 75 years of Independence, and going back to my memories of the country from 1947, when I was a schoolboy, up to the present. It’s like a little memoir, a personal one, about how the country has changed and the major events over the years and a personal look at India. Then in February, there’s a children’s storybook, a novella called The Enchanted Cottage, by HarperCollins. It’s beautifully illustrated, it looks great. Then Puffin will bring out the fifth in my series of boyhood memoirs. This one takes me to England and my two years in London, how I wrote my first book and how I came back to India. Well, that’s the first three or four months of 2022, after that I don’t know.

Bond has three books scheduled to come out in the first few months of 2022

Bond has three books scheduled to come out in the first few months of 2022 HarperCollins

Seems like you’ll have a book a month!

Well, If I read a book a day I ought to be able to write a book a month (laughs)!

Have you made a New Year’s resolution?

Gosh, I forgot! But there’s still time, isn’t there? I’ll think of something today.

But how long will it last, do you think?

They don’t last very long, do they (chuckles)? But I’ll try to pick one that I can try and stick to. Like reading more books (laughs) or writing nonsense verse.

Follow us on: