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HindustanTimes Sun,21 Dec 2014

RIP Khushwant Singh: Heaven's had it

Khushwant Singh   April 07, 2014
First Published: 12:51 IST(7/4/2014) | Last Updated: 12:53 IST(7/4/2014)

The moment I got the news that the great Khushwant Singh had passed away, I had immediately uploaded my Facebook status - RIP The Khushwant Singh. I wrote this because he was and will remain the real Khushwant Singh, irrespective of how many Khushwant Singhs come and go. Given his personality, I had also wanted to add to his obit the line 'heaven's had it', but some-thing prevented me from doing so.

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Pondering over the reasons about why was I so measured while writing the obituary of a man who spared none in his life- time, I could track two factors.

The first one probably stems from the fact that I was named Khushwant Singh after the great writer by my grandfather. And I, in no way, could take liberty with the protocol.

The second reason was that I was weary of being judged. Though very unlike me, the combination of respect and being judged in the event of a national loss had perhaps stopped me from adding that line.

Yes, his death was akin to a national loss. That's the quote I'd given to a journalist who had so wanted to know how my life would change after Khushwant Singh's death, since I was also a writer.

Apart from the above quote, I also told the journalist that I felt as if a part of me had been severed, even though I didn't know him personally.

A surprise quote many would say - especially when one had been labelled an impostor by the very legend - but true, nevertheless. The point I am trying to make is that the older Khushwant Singh had become a part of me, as no day passed (since the past 10 years) when there would be no action about the name.

The laughs and the guffaws, the abuses and the praises that came my way from people who confused me with the older Khushwant Singh, had become part of my DNA.

For example, how can I forget the 2005 incident when I wrote my first book, Sikhs Unlimited. One of the persons whom I had gone to interview for the book had thought that it was the great Khushwant Singh who was visiting their house in California.

The family, which had made arrangements befitting the stature of The Khushwant Singh, had been shocked to see me enter the house. A great learning experience it was - how not to react to situations and just go with the flow.

How can one just brush aside the experience of receiving numerous hate and love emails, since many readers thought that Punjabi by Nature was written by the old Khushwant Singh.

The latest hate emails being after the piece on Arvind Kejriwal where I coronated him as the new Mohammad Bin Tughlak of Delhi.

Emails accusing me of being a Congress agent and how I had sucked up to Sanjay Gandhi all my life, kept invading my inbox for days.

And what about the mindless comparisons critics and journalists did with the older's work. If I were Natha Singh, I would never have been exposed to the IQ level of some of the most intelligent names in the country.

And, the latest one, when a book vendor called me up to check whether my book release(Maharaja in Denims) function was still on, since the author had passed away.

There was a minute's silence on the other side when I said this was Khushwant Singh speaking. I could feel the poor guy freaking out and the only thing he didn't say was 'Bhoot!' before disconnecting.

May the legend's spirit rest in peace. And while I pity the gods out in the heaven, who by now must have been Khushwantised, I personally will always have one regret in life -he never allowed me an opportunity to seek his blessings.

So what if it was his favourite four letter word.

The columnist is a Punjab-based author and consulting editor at a news channel.

singhkhushwant@hotmail.com
www.singhkhushwant.com

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