Written by Bond as a 17 year old, the story is a semi-autobiographical work.It is a tale about an Anglo-Indian orphan boy named Rusty. He lives with his guardian Mr.Harrison (a Missionary) and his wife in Dehradun.
Mr. Harrison wants him to be groomed withEnglish values and to avoid contact with Indian influences.However, Rusty is frustrated by his guardian’s stern restrictions and suffocating environment.A day to walk freeOne rainy day, Rusty meets a boy called Somi. He offers Rusty a ride on his bicycle. Rustyroams the bazaar with his new friend and joins in with other friends of Somi. Enjoying the newfound freedom Rusty finds solace in companionship and camaraderie.
He feels unbridled joy ashe finally has some space away from constant surveillance under his pesky guardian.The moment of actionSoon the story moves to the occasion of Holi. Ranbir, a new Indian friend, coaxes Rusty intoplaying with colors. Rusty enjoys the colors with his friends and in the process messes up hisclothes. After a whole day of frolics he returns to his house. At first, Mr. Harrison does notrecognize him.
As soon as he realizes that it was Rusty, Mr. Harrison starts beating himmercilessly.Rusty, unable to control his aggression, fights him back. Already on an edge due to pastatrocities, he retaliates this time.
When the missionary's wife approaches he makes an escapethrough the window.An encounter with harsh realityHomeless, he spends the night outside as his friends had gone to their houses. He learns thetough reality of the world and the lonely vigil for an orphan.In the morning, Somi collects brings him to his house.
Rusty is determined not to return to hiscruel guardian’s house even though he is staring at bleak prospects.Somi helps Rusty to get a teaching job. He becomes an English tutor to Kishen Kapoor, a youngPunjabi boy. Mr. and Mrs. Kapoor are generous people and offer a room on the roof to stay.Unscripted RomanceMr. Kapoor is an alcoholic and almost 20 years older than his wife, Meena.
Rusty is sooninfatuated by Meena’s beauty. To his surprise, Meena also reciprocated the admiration as hefeels unloved by her husband. They even share a kiss while out for a picnic in a jungle.
But it was not to be. One day, Mr. and Mrs.
Kapoor leave for Delhi. After a few days Rusty getsthe tragic news of Meena’s death in a car accident.Kishen is devastated and Rusty feels orphaned again in his young life.Accepting grief and moving onKishen’s aunty who lives in Hardwar comes to take him away leaving Rusty all alone.
After fewdays of wallowing and self-pity, Rusty makes a decision to go to England. He knows that he willneed to visit the British consulate in Delhi for the arrangements of his travel.He stops at Hardwar on his way to Delhi to say his goodbyes to Kishen. He learns that Mr.
Kapoor has already remarried. Kishen, unable to deal with his mother’s death, has taken to a lifeof crime and become a thief. He is a wanted felon.Rusty meets Kishen and has a heart-to-heart with him.
He advises him to quit thieving as he stillfeels responsible for Kishen. After all, he knows what it feels to be sad, alone and confused. Hehas had his fair share of tragedy and loss.Key Thoughts:The story exposes the pangs of loneliness that is a tough reality for an orphaned child.The deteriorating condition of an orphan provides a grim reminder to the readers of the plight ofthose that are forgotten by society.Furthermore, the theme of youthful rebellion depicted in the story highlights the dangers ofunchecked teenage rebellion.
It can lead to disillusionment and even to the dark corners of crimeand misery.