The Khushwant Singh Literary Festival began in a small way three years ago in the hills of Kasauli, a place dear to the grand old man as it was here where his summer home is located as well as where he did most of his writing. And as you know, this year will add a special poignancy to the festival because this is the first time he will be spoken of in the past.
The theme of this year’s fest, it’s third edition, will be storytelling and so, it will be a time for stories. Stories not just on Khushwant Singh’s life and work but stories on all matters that were of interest to him and to the Kasauli region; tales that are necessary to preserve our ecology, our heritage, our military and our society. Stories on film and song and stories that will build ties between nations with a special focus on Indo-Pak relations.
In the two years since the fest began there have been several eminent names from various fields. These include prominent British journalist and writer Sir Mark Tully, athlete Milkha Singh, actors Rahul Bose and Deepti Naval, art historians BN Goswami and Salima Hashmi and many more.The festival is also dedicated to two causes that were very close to Khushwant Singh, the education of the girl child and the preservation of Kasauli’s ecology.
So, ‘once upon a time there lived a king of columnists and prince of hosts, a hero of cats, a trencherman of toasts,’ to paraphrase Vikram Seth’s words on Khushwant Singh.
Once, his stories connected him to a population of millions and helped transform their lives, and now these stories continue to leave a legacy for future generations to feed on, to evolve, to grow, to think. And perhaps enhance the joy of reading.
To paraphrase his favourite Kipling poem, ‘If’:“He filled each unforgiving minute with 60 seconds worth of distance run. He had the earth and everything in it. He was a man, my son.”
The festival will be held from October 10 to 12 in Kasauli.