Discuss the theme of supernatural and paranormal as presented in the story?
Ruskin Bond graphically uses his language and imagination to transport us to the hills and watching the sun setting beautifully and the dark night enveloping the forest with the wind howling in the trees to create an eerie and strange atmosphere. The imagery abounds in super naturalism and paranormal scenes. The image of a lonely boy in the night in a dark forest amidst the howling wind and rustling leaves, sitting on a rock ‘racked by silent weeping’ not only evokes a feeling of strangeness, of impending horror but also of sympathy for a weeping child. Thus a mastery of language helps him to achieve this effect. Ruskin Bond stories are not horror they are like haunting experiences. The experience is not dangerous, life threatening or altering -it is just different. It is honest and believable.
The story a Face in the Dark exhibits Bond’s interest in the supernatural. It deals with the paranormal depicting the story of a school teacher who while returning from the Simla Bazaar takes a shortcut through the forest and encounters a faceless weeping boy. The boy has no nose, ears or eyes. Mr Oliver runs in fear but to his horror meets the watchman who is also without a face.
Ruskin Bond employs words and phrases like ‘sad,’ ‘eerie sounds,’ ‘racked with silent sobbing,’ ‘shook convulsively’ to create an atmosphere replete with supernatural and fearful connotations. He opens the story with a everyday, normal occurrence and then gradually builds an atmosphere of strangeness and supernatural events through the use of appropriate imagery and language. The very title suggests that something is not right, its suggestive of eeriness. The use of the word dark connotes the paranormal, the supernatural, the weird.
One is transported into the world of paranormal activities without realising but the story is in no way macabre. Bond builds the atmosphere from the ordinary to the surreal. He opens with the description of the ordinary school teacher’s routine, then introduces the eerie atmosphere of the dark forest with the howling wind, then a surprise element of sympathy and anger at the boy out after dark leading to the horror of the faceless entity, a surreal and weird encounter. The narrator writes, ‘He carried a torch -on the night I write of, its pale gleam, the batteries were running down – moved fitfully over the narrow forest path. When its flickering light fell on the figure of a boy, who was sitting alone on a rock, Mr. Oliver stopped. Boys were not supposed to be out of school after 7 p.m. and it was now well past nine.’ This detail about the torch suggests that something is not right and makes us wait expectantly for the unusual. And such an effect speaks of the superior writing and storytelling skills of Ruskin Bond.
“Raise the possibility of another layer of life outside our material selves – something of the soul-force, the aura of a person that lingers on after the body is no more.” And so lingers on long after it has been read.