Vagrants in the Valley – Ruskin Bond

Vagrants in the Valley - A book review


The Room on the Roof sees Rusty the main character (the almost seventeen boy) breaking familial bonds and social chains to propel himself into the hustling bustling colorful world of India. Rusty leaves behind the entrapping dark world build around him by his guardian and jumps into the livelier world of northern India which is as spirited and pleasant when it is awake as it is dark, alienating and unpleasant when it sleeps. Rusty is fatefully yet willfully thrown out of his own European home and also flung around in the world which he has been dreaming of escaping into for long.


Being an adolescent he was as any other with barely any certainties of his own future and identity. So he continues the search for his identity in this part as the newly found freedom turns into a sort of isolation that he soon wishes to escape into a world away from the world he was, all this while, longing to explore and be a part of. This is where Rusty had once again like before had become an “unwilling slave to reality”.


Previously when he had left the world behind him, he was greeted with a warm and welcoming reality, but that too had betrayed him and now again he was a slave to what was left of that reality. So he decides to move away from it. But as he keeps walking forward, it is comradeship that brings him back, back to where the bitter turned sweet turned sour memories lay nested in the hills, back to Dehra.

This book takes Rusty back, again to a new world in Dehra as his search continues while he meets new people, revisits his past, finds out more about his real parents, and continues to wander looking for answers, and after gathering most of them, in the end, he takes a decision, again to become a part of a new reality or rather realities.

Ahead of them lay forest and silence-and what was left of time…


Through these two interconnected pieces of literature, what the author most clearly and gracefully paints is the trajectory of life through a progressing timeline in which the protagonist moves through different stages during his most influential period of life (adolescence), while coming across new people, allowing time to build important and impacting relationships, while jovially and spiritedly opening up to them whose transitory growth would soon be stunted rather abruptly or prolonged if only for a short extended duration.

You are old enough to look after me…Let us be burdens on each other. I am lonely, sometimes. I know you have friends, but they cannot care for you if you are sick or in trouble. You have no parents. I have no children. It is as simple as that.

The story and its well driven narrative highlights the willingness of youth and its optimism that paves the way for unreserved and unrestrained emotions and feelings that those short and few shared moments with others will give root to and further the youthful courage that boldly lets them flourish while being mutually willing to carry the weight that the fated departure would soon bring whenever it was destined to.

You do not realize… I have got used to you, that is all.

Once absorbed into the world created by the author, what you feel for the most is the short-lived nature of the relationships, the interactions, the exchanges that etch across the heart in one moment and the next moment they begin to fade away as each person moves their own way holding in their hearts the bitter truth that they will probably never cross paths again.

You must have some companion, someone to talk to and quarrel with, if you are not to be lonely…

It conveys a sense of progress or growth on an individual as well as an interpersonal level, wherein each new experience and the people it brings closer to you are soon going to be memories as you are only there for those few moments to live and continue moving further on your path thus turning those temporal relationships into memories that will only leave you with a longing.

The End…

But as destiny may have it, you must move on, in order to live and feel that something which you are trying to reach out to, tangible or intangible, whichever will quench your hunger for knowing yourself or knowing the world around or just escaping the world that was once a part of you but did not accept you as a part or rather that world itself was torn into parts with nothing left behind to gather and rebuild.


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Vagrants in the Valley Book Cover Vagrants in the Valley
Ruskin Bond

Vagrants in the Valley is the sequel to one of Ruskin Bond's earliest and best works that drives the story of the teenage boy Rusty forward. It continues from where The Room on the Roof ends with Rusty having reunited with his old and beloved friend. Both of them continue their journey as they explore and search for a place to call home. They travel back and forth to old and new places, exploring different realities each time, as they are ultimately gripped by the unchangeable reality of growing up and shackled by the bounds that such a reality sets, as it cages the human spirit.
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