A Flight of Pigeons

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A Flight of Pigeons
A Flight of Pigeons (Ruskin Bond novel - cover art).jpg
Author Ruskin Bond
Original title ahilan
Country India
Language English
Genre Novella
Published 2003
Media type Print
Pages 144 pp (hardcover)
ISBN 0-670-04927-1 (Penguin edition, hardcover)

A Flight of Pigeons is a novella by Indian author, Ruskin Bond. The story is set in 1857,[1] and is about Ruth Labadoor and her family (who are British) who take help of Hindus and Muslims to reach their relatives when the family's patriarch is killed in a church by the Indian rebels. The novella is a mix of fiction and non fiction and was adapted into a film in 1978 called Junoon[2] by Shyam Benegal, starring Shashi Kapoor, his wife Jennifer Kendal, and Nafisa Ali.[3][4]


The Novel starts with the death of the father of Ruth Labadoor in front of her eyes in a church. This murder is committed by the Indian rebels who are a part of the Indian Rebellion of 1857 and who have decided to kill all the Britishers of the small town of Shahjahanpur. It is then that Mariam Labadoor, who is the mother of the narrator, Ruth, comes into action. She takes their entire family of 6 to their trusted friend Lala Ramjimal who keeps them at his home and gives them security and shelter. The Pathan leader Javed Khan comes to know that there are a few foreigners living in Lala's home and he comes into his house unannounced and forcefully takes away Ruth and Mariam Labadoor to his home. The rest of the book talks of the various incidents experienced by the Labadoor family, who are very warmly welcomed by family members of Javed Khan. Javed Khan himself is a cunning man and he pleads to marry Ruth. Mariam opposes the proposition many times as she does not want Ruth to marry Javed Khan.[5] She keeps the condition that if the British are able to defeat the Indian rebels, then Javed Khan will not marry her daughter. But if they are defeated by the rebels, then she would give her daughter to him. The British are able to take the hold of the country and Javed Khan is killed in one of the fights with the Britishers. With lot of help and support, the Labadoor family finally reaches their relatives.

Main characters[edit]

Ruth Labadoor[edit]

She is the narrator of the novel and witnesses the killing of her father.[6] With the help of her mother, friends and others, she and her family finally make it to their relatives.

Lala Ramjimal[edit]

He is the most trusted friend of the Labadoor family and he gives them shelter when Mr. Labadoor is killed.

Javed Khan[edit]

He is a courageous Pathan. He loses focus on his commitment when he sees Ruth Labadoor and falls in love with her. Despite many attempts, he is not able to please Mariam Labadoor to let him marry her daughter.He died in a skirmish with the British


  1. ^ "A flight of pigeons: Ruskin Bond - The Statesman". The Statesman. 2016-09-14. Retrieved 2017-12-05. 
  2. ^ "Penguin Books India". Retrieved 12 December 2014. 
  3. ^ Sen, Raja (25 August 2005). "Revisiting 1857: Benegal's Junoon". Rediff.com. Retrieved 3 September 2017. 
  4. ^ Lokapally, Vijay (10 July 2014). "Blast from the Past: Junoon (1978)". The Hindu. Retrieved 3 September 2017. 
  5. ^ "Filmmaker Shyam Benegal brings to life Ruskin Bonds A Flight of Pigeons". Retrieved 2017-12-05. 
  6. ^ "MUST READ: Flight of Pigeons". hindustantimes.com/. 2006-05-27. Retrieved 2017-12-05.