Amid tributes pouring in from friends, writers and fans of eminent novelist and journalist Khushwant Singh, historian and writer Raaja Bhasin, who is considered an authority on Himachal Pradesh, reminisced about how the country's best known raconteur's "yes" inspired him to write prolifically.
"I never met Kushwant Singh but where I'm today has much to do with him. My father's friend, the late EN Mangat Rai after his second marriage to Nayantara Sehgal was his neighbour in New Delhi's Sujan Singh Park. At the time I must have been around ten years old and had no idea who or what Khushwant Singh was", said Bhasin, adding he never even thought that Kushwant would one day go through the manuscript of his first book - Simla - the Summer Capital of British India.
"Two decades later, in the early 1990s, he was the editorial adviser to Penguin India and read the manuscript that had been submitted to them. It was his "yes" that saw me enter the Penguin stable,"said Bhasin.
"Years later, at the first Kushwant Singh literary festival in Kasauli, where I had also been invited, it gave me immense pleasure to publicly acknowledge this and again express my admiration for the man who never hesitated to call a spade a spade - something he did with humour, a rare gentleness and with honesty", he noted, remembering the time when Kushwant edited the Illustrated Weekly Of India.
"A whole generation of teenagers (including me) that grew up with the Illustrated Weekly could do well to thank him for all those images of pretty girls that he filled the magazine with," he added.
Paying tributes to Kushwant, he said : "Wherever he is I hope scholarship, scotch and the company of women haven't left him".
Bhasin has published eight books and over 2,000 articles and stories in leading publications in India and abroad. His current assignments include being history consultant for Channel 4's (UK) forthcoming costume drama series Indian Summers and a lecturer with Martin Randall Travel.