The Night Train at Deoli by Ruskin Bond
In The Night Train at Deoli by Ruskin Bond we have the theme of innocence, memories, connection, love, letting go, desire, acceptance and fear. Taken from his Collected Short Stories collection the story is narrated in the first person by an unnamed man and after reading the story the reader realises that Bond may be exploring the theme of letting go. The narrator is unable to let go of the girl at Deoli despite the passing of time. It is as though he has reserved a place for the girl in his heart. Though some critics might suggest that the narrator has become infatuated with the girl it is more likely that she is his first love and it is for this reason that he has never let go of the girl or forgotten her. It is also somewhat ironic that the narrator tells the reader that nothing happens at Deoli. Yet Deoli is the place where the narrator has fallen in love for the first time. It might also be important that the narrator no longer gets off the train at Deoli as this could suggest that the narrator rather than having to face reality and discover what happened the girl. Prefers instead to hold onto his memories.
It is easier for the narrator to live his life with the unbroken heart of a young man than to have to discover that the girl may have simply moved on with her life and got married. This type of reality would be crushing to the narrator and as such he holds onto his memories. If anything it may be easier for the narrator to remember happy times that can last forever in memories than to become aware of the truth. Which may leave some readers suspecting that the narrator is simply deceiving himself. That he is unable to accept that the girl may have moved on with her life. It is also interesting that the girl had little or no impact on any of the other characters in the story. It is only the narrator who feels as though the girl was special. There is also a sense that the narrator and the girl have made a connection with one another. At least that is how the narrator feels. So strong are the feelings that the narrator has for the girl that he cuts short his visit to his grandmothers. It is as though the narrator is driven by desire.
It might also be important that the narrator only had brief moments of engagement with the girl as Bond could be suggesting that a brief moment is all it takes for an individual to fall in love. Even if during those brief moments the narrator learned nothing about the girl he has fallen in love with. The fact that the narrator never sees the girl again could also suggest that there is an element of loss in the story. However the narrator buts any sense of loss to the back of his mind preferring instead to think that someday he will see the girl again. Which would play on the theme of acceptance and letting go. At no stage in the story does the narrator accept that he will never see the girl again. Something that is clearer to the reader by the fact that the narrator journeys through Deoli more frequently as he has grown older. Still hoping to see the girl.
If anything the narrator is holding onto a memory and nothing more. Despite the years passing he has never seen the girl again nor is he likely too. For the narrator has never taken the steps to try and find the girl. Which may suggest that the narrator is afraid to find out the truth. The narrator’s heart is not broken rather it is optimistic. However should the narrator find out the truth about the girl and the truth is unpleasant to the narrator. Then his heart will be broken. It is for this reason that the narrator dreams about what could be. Maintaining the innocence he had when he was afraid to touch the girl’s fingers. If anything the narrator has put the girl on a pedestal which she may not justify. In his mind the narrator has created an image of the girl that may not be real. However it is real to the narrator. Just as everyone’s first love is real. At the end of the story the narrator has no regrets because he is working off his memory. Time changes people but the narrator doesn’t allow for this. To him the girl has remained the same. She will always be the same for the narrator because the narrator cannot let her go. If anything the narrator lives in hope that he may one day see the girl in Deoli again. However the reality is most likely very different.