The other day as I returned home after an evening in the park, I saw a little boy with his mother. He was crying, upset that she was not heeding to a request of his. His friends, three little girls were consoling him but to no avail. Finally feeling unheard and unloved he declared amid tears streaming down his red cheeks, “ I will leave you and go far away”. His mother stopped texting and exchanged a knowing smile with me. She then spoke softly to him, cajoling and uttering sweet nothings to assuage him. The scene brought to mind Margret Wise Brown’s ‘The Runaway Bunny’, that documents the story of a mother’s love that follows her little bunny like a shadow, never leaving.Little bunny has a mother who loves him to the end of time. No matter how much he tries to struggle and get away from her, she holds him closer in an embrace of love. The message that shines through is that the mother is with her little bunny no matter what he does, or where he goes. What a beautiful message to ingrain in a child.
Mother and Little Bunny in their Burrow. An illustration by Clement Hurd from The Runaway Bunny. Image credits : children book almanac
Almost all children sometime or the other seek to put distance between their mother and them, frustrated at their overbearing, all-encompassing love and care. The mother bunny is never once upset and repeats she will be with her little bunny through all the forms that he might take. Finally, the little bunny resigns to the fact that there is nowhere to run from his mother’s love. The book will remind you of the times we have tried to be away from our mothers with little success. Who else is there to love you even as you sit tired and spent, never expecting anything in return?My partner in crime since I was six and a deep lover of the arts, Amrita , read The Runaway Bunny. She chanced upon the book when she was studying in America far from her mother in India and she was touched deeply by it.“On a personal level it sort of describes the relation I have with my mother”, she says. “I ‘m always trying to run away from her smothering love but at the same time, I don’t want to. The Runaway Bunny brought home the point that no matter how many times I fell I had a place to come to recover.”The Runaway Bunny is the kind of book that lays down profound love so simply and elegantly. Clement Hurd’s illustration will stay forever etched in the mind like Margret Wise Brown’s words.Written in 1945, this book has the distinction of never having got out of print.A child reading the book will enjoy the different forms the little bunny takes to get away from his mother. The back and forth between child and mother is a page turner. What we wonder is the little bunny going to be next and what is mother bunny’s reply going to be?
“If you run away “, said his mother “I will run after you. “For you are my little bunny”“If you run after me”, said the little bunny, “I will become a fish in a trout stream and I will swim away from you.”“If you become a fish in a trout stream”, said his mother “I will become a fisherman and I will fish for you.”“If you become a fisherman”, said the little bunny, “I will become a rock on the mountain high above you.”“If you become a rock on the mountain high above me”, said his mother “I will be a mountain climber, and climb to where you are”.
To be loved like the little bunny or to love like mother bunny, one must be blessed.