” When you have counted eighty years and more, Time and Fate will batter at your door; But if you should survive to be a hundred, Your life will be death to the very core.”
Writer, journalist, one of India’s best known satirist, died on Thursday at the age of 99.Khushawant Singh was best known for his trenchant secularism, his humor, and an abiding love of poetry. His weekly newspaper column, “With malice towards one and all”, published in many Indian dailies and is the most widely-read commentaries in the country. It contains a mixture of serious politics, rank gossip, risqué jokes, Urdu poetry and the occasional character assassination. He was honest to an extent that he offended even his friends and icons revered by people. He is attributed with free thinking, his writing being simple, lucid and unpretentious.
His novel, “Train to Pakistan” is probably the best fiction to come out on the partition of India and brought history to our doorstep. It is also one of the most moving novels I have read.” I have no other skills. I have to do something. I can’t cook and I can’t garden. I can only scribble”. And scribble, he did. He has authored several novels and a number of short stories. He was honored with the Padma Bhushan in 1974, but returned it in protest against the siege of the Golden Temple in Amritsar by the Indian Army in 1984. Undeterred the Indian Government awarded Singh an even more prestigious honor-Padma Vibhushan in the year 2007.
Khushwant Singh had written his own epitaph and had it published in his book Absolute Khushwant
“Here lies one who spared neither man or God
Waste not your tears on him, he was a sod
Writing nasty things he regarded as great fun
Thank Lord he is dead, this son of a gun”
He was a man of letters and will continue to live on with his words in our hearts. It is upon us on how we choose to remember him-as an inspired translator of Guru Nanak’s Hymns or the irrelevant chronicler of human foibles and vaniti