In the cultural hub of 1880s’ Lahore Kay Robinson has taken over as editor of the Civil and Military Gazette. Assisting him is the young and impressionable Rudyard Kipling, a lonely, impulsive man who dreams of becoming a writer. Kipling’s literary pursuits have been dismissed as fanciful and foolish by his previous boss.
But Robinson is different. He encourages the young ‘Ruddy’, allowing him greater creative freedom at the Gazette. As he becomes Ruddy’s friend and confidant, Robinson gains access to intimate glimpses of the Kipling family, where he is smitten by Ruddy’s sister Trix.
Here are some quotes where Robinson encourages and recognizes Ruddy’s talent in Lahore, taken from Sudhir Kakar’s fictional biography, titled The Kipling File.
Early showcase of Ruddy’s talent:
“And yes, we did make Civil and Military Gazette sparkle, chiefly by writing the greater part of the paper ourselves. Given my admiration for his talent, I gave Ruddy more space in the paper, a decision I never regretted for a minute… Where Ruddy really flowered, and made the paper hum, was in the weekly feature of a 2500-word column… I remain proud that this CMG column was the very first publication to showcase Ruddy as a writer of short stories.”
During the course of the following year, I came to admire Ruddy’s enormous gift as a reporter… this impression was reinforced by the stories about India and the Anglo-Indians that he began to churn out with regularity for the CMG —sotries in which his protagonists’ encounter with the country was not one of unreflective dismissal or instinctive recoil but of more nuanced rejection.”
Writing as a healing process
Ruddy: “It was the last week in July when Wheeler sent me here to report on the collapse of the roof… Three boys had been killed. Seeing their mangled limbs and crushed faces made me violently sick… There was a darkness into which my soul descended—a horror of desolation, abandonment.”
Kay: “Write about it, Ruddy; it will help.”