Not invoking the great Indian writer directly as in the beginning of the festival, three short sessions on the final day of the Khushwant Singh Litfest touched upon a few of Khushwant Singh’s favourite things. And no, they had nothing to do with wine, women and malice.
A session on a collection of his varied writings was titled ‘Portrait of a Serial Killer: Khushwant Singh’, which was conducted by journalist-turned-author Avirook Sen and Prof Harish Trivedi.
The compilation encompasses his time as editor of Yojana before he edited the much-celebrated Illustrated Weekly. The collection shows the experience and range of a man who was not only a great storyteller but also a fine chronicler of life.
“These books keep coming out though he has passed away. Khushwant wrote so much that a lot of his work is just compiled and made into collections of stories, essays or what you will,” said Trivedi.
Another topic close to the writer’s heart was nature. He did a lot of his writing in Kasauli and wrote about life in the hill station, its ecology and people.
“Khushwant had a great connection with nature. He has written beautiful pieces about Kasauli and Shimla,” said Ravi Singh, a respected name in publishing, who moderated the session titled ‘Himalayan Thoughts’.
Author Namita Gokhale talked about how she found an association between women and the Himalayas. “Himalayas represent cultural, geographical, social and sometimes political values of our country.” Talking about her new book ‘Mountain Echoes’, she said, “For me, this book is like a pan-Himalayan project. I have recorded the memories of my grandmother and three great aunts along with their memories of their mothers.”
Prolific landscape photographer Ashok Dilwali showcased stunning images of mountainous landscapes from his travels to Tibet, Ladakh and Bhutan. His obsession with capturing the Himalayas has lasted over 30 years now.
Khushwant 100, Kipling 150
Trivedi took to the stage to talk about English writer Rudyard Kipling who would have turned 150 this year. “More than half a century divides the two great writers, yet they have clear connections. Khushwant was a great admirer of Kipling,” Trivedi said.