“If you ever became a ghost, which place do you think you’d haunt?” Someone in the crowd asked.
“My favourite cafe or restaurant” Said Bond, “But then if I am a ghost, it wouldn’t matter if I am fed or not so I’d just wander about where there are trees and gardens and flowers.”
On 26th January, Ruskin Bond sat amidst the graves of Henry Louis Vivian Derozio, Lucia Palk, Walter Dickens and several other more historic people at the Park Street Cemetery, to talk about ghosts, spirits and the upcoming Zee5 show Parchhayee that is adapted from his Ghost Stories.
The entire experience was so eerie. If it weren’t for Ruskin Bond’s wit and humour, keeping it lit and lively, I probably wouldn’t have lasted there for more than 5 minutes. As several people from the audience asked questions about Bond’s belief in the afterlife, discussed his ghost stories and characters, I couldn’t help but wonder how many spirits might be surrounding us at that point and if they were being disturbed by all the people and the noise or were they just as excited and wide-eyed to see Ruskin Bond as the living crowd was. I am betting it was the latter because well who wouldn’t be mesmerized by this 84 year old writer that defies all limitations of age and continues to remain extremely witty not only on paper but in person as well.
Bond in a jestful manner talked about how one time he used a planchette to talk to the spirit of an old friend, and well the only thing he asked was how many affairs are left for him in this life and the answer was sadly, one. Bond has been waiting for that ever since.
Every year Kolkata Literary Meet hosts and invites several notable writers, but the only session I am always the most excited about is Ruskin Bond’s. He keeps it fun and friendly, making the audience giggle with every question he answers. But honestly, this year what made the experience memorable was the venue. Never been to a cemetery before, obviously never attended an event in a cemetery before and definitely never seen a bat fly so low that it hits a speeding car and dies. Yes, that happened. And we saw that as soon as we came out of the cemetery. Bats are not even that commonly seen in Kolkata and definitely not on a busy crowded street.
What made the whole scene even more horror worthy was that as soon as the bat died (with a sad crunch that we clearly heard), a giant murder of crows arrived and cawed away furiously.
*shudders and sleeps with the lights turned on*