Give an account of Mr. Oliver’s encounter with the boy and his reaction in the story “A Face in the Dark” by Ruskin Bond.
In Ruskin Bond’s short story “A Face in the Dark”, Mr. Oliver’s encounter with a boy and later on with the watchman both of whom had a ’round smooth head’ with no features at all constitutes the entire plot of the story. Like other days, Mr. Oliver, an Anglo-Indian teacher at a English public school at Simla was returning back to school from the Simla Bazaar one night. He was walking down the narrow path through a pine forest all alone while other people used to avoid this lonely path due to the eerie sounds made by the pine trees in strong wind. He was carrying a torch but the batteries were running down. Suddenly, the flickering light of his torch fell on the figure of a boy who was sitting on a rock all alone.
Mr. Oliver was seemingly angry at the boy as he was not supposed to be out after dark and it was against the rules of the school. So, Oliver threw a sharp question at him:
What are you doing out here, boy?
When Oliver came closer to the boy to recognize him, he sensed that something was wrong. The boy was apparently crying. He hung his head down and held his face in his hands. The boy was weeping, but strangely enough, silently when ‘his body shook convulsively’.
Mr. Oliver’s anger now turned into concern and he threw more questions at the boy:
Well, what’s the matter?
What are you crying for?
There was no answer from the boy, as he continued his ‘silent sobbing’. Now, Mr. Oliver asked him to look up and come with him as he should not be out there at that hour. But the moment the boy looked up to his teacher and removed his hands from his face, it was a complete horror for Mr. Oliver. He saw in the faint light of his torch that the boy had no eyes, ears, nose or mouth. It was just a round smooth head.
As for the reaction, Mr. Oliver got so terrified at the sight of this strange face, if it could be called a face at all, his torch fell from his trembling hand and he started running towards the school building calling for help, only to encounter another similar paranormal figure on his way.