A Rupee Goes a Long Way by Ruskin Bond
In A Rupee Goes a Long Way by Ruskin Bond we have the theme of hope, ingenuity, contentment and impatience. Taken from his Collected Short Stories collection the reader realises from the beginning of the story that Bond may be exploring the theme of impatience. Ranji is impatient about spending his rupee. He draws himself up a list of things that he would like to buy though he is also aware that his list is short due to the fact that he only has a rupee. The sweet seller is also an interesting character as he dashes any hopes that Ranji may have when it comes to buying a rupee’s worth of jalebis. However rather than lose complete hope Ranji manages to trade his one rupee coin for a fishing rod. This may be significant as it suggests that Ranji is using his ingenuity. He knows the coin is worth nothing but there are things he can do with the fishing rod. Simple things like catching fish to help feed his family or if she chooses he can also sell what he catches. For Ranji it is a win-win situation. However unfortunately for Ranji there is no water in the river for him to fish.
Though some might feel defeated by this. Ranji isn’t as when he is walking home he delights in seeing the mangoes in the tree. The misfortune of there being no water in the river is behind him. Another stroke of ingenuity is when Ranji swaps his fishing rod for the flute. Though both items might appear to be useless to some critics the point is that Ranji is not without. He started with a useless old rupee and now he has a flute. Though it might be worth noting that he cannot play it. This however doesn’t deter Ranji from profiting on the exchange of the flute with another boy in exchange for a brightly coloured necklace. The necklace itself may be important as it is the instrument in which Ranji manages to get a real rupee from Koki. Who can be forgiven for assuming that Ranji was going to give her the necklace for free. At no stage in the story does Ranji do or think anything should be free. He is about the importance of money and what one can get for money. If he were not a young boy who knows no better. Some critics might suggest that Ranji is acting selfishly when it comes to the necklace.
Throughout the story everybody who Ranji barters with appears to be content or happy with the transactions they have made. Each finds a use for what Ranji has given them. Though the same cannot be said for Ranji. He has no need for a necklace and if it were not for him bumping into Koki. He would not have gotten his one rupee coin. Which enables him to go back to the sweet shop and buy a bag of jalebis. It is also interesting that Ranji doesn’t charge Koki for the sweets he gives her. Rather he is happy to share with her now that his own goal of getting a bag of jalebis has been reached. This too could be significant as it suggests that Ranji though driven by his goal to get a rupee. Once he has it he no longer has the same drive. His task for the day is complete. Any selfish streak that Ranji might have had or was suspected to have has disappeared by the good natured act of sharing the bag of jalebis with Koki.
It is also possible that Ranji has learnt a lesson from his day’s activities. That being that one can never know what another person might be prepared to trade and should one trade profitably a successful day is to be had. Ranji started his day off with a worthless one rupee coin and by the end of the day he is sitting with Koki and sharing his Jalebis with her. The reader suspecting that Koki is no longer offended by the fact that she had to pay a rupee for the necklace. All in all Bond has written a story in whereby each and every character is satisfied by their dealings with Ranji. He may have been merciless when selling the necklace to Koki but she is sure to forgive him now that he is sharing his jalebis with her. Though Ranji might not know it he has learnt a valuable lesson in commerce. While at the same time enjoying Koki’s company. Something that some readers might consider to be an achievement for a day’s work by a young boy. If anything Ranji has done himself proud each step of the way. He had a goal that he wanted to reach. Wasn’t put off when told the rupee was worthless and eventually reached his goal.