I am forced to share this section from Khushwant Singh’s last book Khushwantnama, on how to live and happy and long life. Although Khushwant says that a long life is more a work of genes, sill a happy life can be managed. And normally a happy man/woman lives longer. Hence all this hullaballoo! Enjoy the post!
“The Patiala Peg of Publishing is No More” ~ Shobhaa De
That might be so, but his writing are here to stay! This is perhaps the only book (as of now) containing one of the best and choicest of obits on Khushwant Singh. Khushwant Singh: The Legend Lives On has been edited by his son Rahul Singh. I so badly wanted to read it in one go, but the vagaries of time prevented that. So it was two or three obits, in between tea, telephone calls, lunch breaks, wife’s lectures, kids remonstrations, the boss’s calling and what not. But what a treat it was reading this book. The WOW factor is a straight 10/10.
After having read so many books authored by Khushwant Singh, I badly wanted to read some book written on him, but none was to be found. I guess they were all waiting for him to die. It makes more sense to write about the dead, instead of a living person. So this unplanned visit to the Frere Hall had me scouring for something interesting. Lo and Behold, I found this book, “A Man Called Khushwant Singh”, edited by Rohini Singh, sitting in at the bottom of a huge heap of books as if placed in forced state of “solitary confinement.” One look at it was enough, telling me this was a keeper. The shopkeeper wanted 250 rupees for it, I protested, a little haggling followed, finally he won, saying, “original hai”. Meaning, its not a fake. By the way, I don’t like fake copies of books that they make here, its unethical, the paper they use sucks big time and I find the books repulsive, very that is.
The Good, The Bad and the Ridiculous by Khushwant Singh is an anthology of profiles of men and women, some famous others notorious, which the old man has had the honor of meeting or knowing in his lifetime. It contains over 30 profiles of politicians, Ex- Presidents, Prime Ministers, poets, Generals, social workers, dacoits, Viceroys and men like LK Advani and Jarnail Singh Bhinadranwale. In this book Khsuhwant has profiled, Mahatma Gandhi, Quaid e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Manzur Qadir, Pholan Devi, Tikka Khan, Ziaur Rehman, Sanjay Gandhi, Indra Gandhi, Louis Mountbatten, Mother Teresa, Jawaharlal Nehru, Faiz Ahmad Faiz and George Fernandes to name a few.
Khushwant Singh’s novel “Train to Pakistan” is the reason he shot to fame. It was written in 1956. Since I had not read this book so I wanted to order one. I normally buy books from Liberty Books, mostly online. It gives me the convenience of ordering books from my home, over the Internet. The book are delivered to my home I make the payment on delivery. So I logged on and searched their website to find the new version of “Train to Pakistan” with pics depicting the partition. The pictures are real and have been snapped by a US photo journalist Margaret Bourke-White who at that time happened to be on an assignment, for Life magazine in this region. The editors have very nicely synchronized the photos with text describing the various scenes. The photos lend a very realistic look to the story and some of them are as really touching, although some of the images may seem disturbing since they show dead people and animals some in advanced stage of decay.
So your wish for a peaceful departure was granted, you finally met Bade Mian the way you wanted. I am gussa at you for no reason, and I hope the Bandobast at your cremation is really good and one befitting a man of your stature. Just two days back I blogged about you, I never knew your time was up. But then I guess Kawal must be waiting for you. For you made her wait an awful long time to complete your mission, twelve years to be exact. I hope you had your single malt last night and a good dinner too. When the solicitor texted me today with this sad news, the natural reaction was that of disbelief. Just two words, “Khushwant Singh” were enough, Google filled me in of your sad departure.
I was introduced to Khaushwant Singh by my dear friend Hamid Gondal whom I lovingly call as “the Solicitor”, and for this I am deeply indebted to him. Since that one book (Truth, love and a little malice) I have bought and read about ten of his books, with Delhi topping the list. Khushwantnama is Khushwant Singh’s latest and last book. The maestro has now retired from writing, rightly so, what else can one expect form a man of his age (99)?
Sahibs Who Loved India is a collection of articles compiled and edited by Khushwant Singh. The articles have been written by people who have been associated with India from 1930’s to 1970’s. Their infatuation, love, likes (mostly) and dislikes about India have been discussed in a (sometimes) witty and at other times in a serious manner. As the book is based on theme, “What India means to them (the authors)”, it is interesting to read the views of Shaibs and Memsahibs who have lived in India and worked there in various capacities. This includes military men, barristers, judges, school masters, news reporters, editors and bureaucrats.
The Sunset Club by Khushwant Singh is about three friends, a Hindu, a Muslim and a Sikh. They are all octogenarians and know each other since last forty years. The scene is set in Delhi around Lodhi Gardens where the three friends meet on evenings almost everyday. They sit on a bench, now called as the “Borra Binch” (named after them as all three old fellows occupy this bench) and chat about things personal, the latest happenings, life, religion, sex, India, Pakistan, God and almost everything that comes to their minds. All three love to drink, they like to reminisce and tease each other. In between this Khushwant Singh the master storyteller conveys strong messages about the subjects that matter to us, as is evident from their (the three friend’s) talk.
This book by Khushwant Singh could also be titled as “My Musings”. More malicious Gossip is about the guru’s point of view about so many things in one place. The book has three trenchant parts each dealing with a separate subjects. The 280 pager is full of interesting stories, gossips, ideas and personalities.