We will forever disgust writing in past tense for this man. Yes our own writer-novelist, journalist Khushwant Singh has left the Newtonian sphere of life. He was more than a person for us a legend of its own kind. The news broke after the interpretation of statute class by News Hunt Application on smartphone. The feeling was numb for the heart to recover, within a moment all the work and assignments went on pending list and writing this piece became our top priority. Condolences from President and high people of society pouring in. The Google search page filled with the news and tweets of celebrities, our Sardarji year short of century left us. Often Khushwant Singh took shelter under Hilarie Belloc which reads:
When I’m dead, I hope it may be said:
‘His sins were scarlet, but his books were read.’
Two years ago both of us in International Conference on Language, Literature and Culture at Institute of Advanced Studies in English, Pune, it was last session and last presentation of International Conference, we were discussing with delegates in the course of presentation that how we wish to say him adieu. We regret that day has come quite soon. We were watching the video tape and our words from podium quoting him from Truth, Love and a Little Malice “At such an age Khushwant Singh is free from terrorists. They’ll not bother to kill such an old man... being quite healthy in old age is quite genetic to his family. Both his parents were long-lived. His father died at the age of ninety after having sip of Scotch. His mother left the mortal world at the age of ninety-four, the last request, made in feeble, barely audible voice, was ‘Viskee’ (Whisky). It was given to her. She threw it up and spoke no more. He hopes that when his time will come he too will be able to raise his glass to take one for the long road.”
We suggest a grand good bye, without even a single tear. We expect family, friends and admirers sitting around the funeral place, having a glass of Scotch in hand and narrating some of his classic jokes and cheering his life what a ‘man’ he was.. It is an irreparable loss to this mother earth. Death is inevitable which we and Khushwant Singh knew very well. Since fifteen years he had been counting every year as a bonus. He was the person whom we wished to break Habib Miyan’s record, of course with good health. We don’t expect elegy on his death. If someone wishes to please beat the one which was written on the death of mad dog. He was a ‘happy ending’ man. Who lived on his principles and morals which were truly Gandhian. In every word of Ashley Montagu Khushwant reflected as “The idea is to die young as late as possible”.
When we started our presentation the chair probed “Do you need Censorship?” The title of our research paper was “As ‘He’ narrates ‘Her’: Khushwant Singh on Fair Sex.” We discussed and concluded with how he is a modern feminist. Indeed the idea was challenging and we generated a stimulation by justifying him as Gandhian and many myths of Khushwant Singh were discussed especially during tea, lunch, dinner and long walks after that with scholars from various backgrounds.
Even our next endeavor was of writing a research article on ‘Eroticism in Khushwant Singh’s Writings.’ Our Sardarji was no stoic and had capacity of lambasting anyone. Why he had such a ‘bad boy’ image? Answer is quite simple and admirable and adorable too. He always provoked or tickle the audience, hit them hard where they are cozy, one of the pockets he expanded was sexuality. The writings of Khushwant Singh are chock full of erotic fantasies. They reflect the author’s imagination qualitatively to develop a strategy of taking the Indian audience out of the cocoon of coy. He often casually said they are “figments of my senile fantasies.” The peculiarity of ‘dirty old man of Delhi’ has been the match of sex partners. Khushwant Singh was able to bring close the ethnic groups close through erotic fantasies. He had a good bent of equating all variety of sexual flavour, indeed in an Indian spirit. Ingeniously he captured Indian sexual sensibilities. He conveyed all races, caste creed, and religion to a focal point of sexual act, using endonormative and exonormative technique and poetic licence to embroider a particular singular influence.
If someone has been introduced to Khushwant Singh from some gutter press as ‘the dirty old man of Delhi’, we think this is a decent start one has got. This dirty thing which we all are talking about can’t be more than sexual intercourse. But the best thing about being dirty is that the finitude is just a three letter word ‘sex’. Western education has shown us how to use profane language. The word ‘sex’ is a taboo in most of the places, even if it happens to be on the application form, people tend to forget that it is biological state of being male or female. We have seen people giving feedback to research questionnaire as to use ‘gender in place of sex’.
How Khushwant Singh befitted dirty? Obviously he has stains of women and recognition as sexist. What is the dirt? Which make him dirty? As a matter of fact he held nothing sacred. He penned filthy indeed and laid all the dirt on himself like a kid splashing it all around and glancing back and wants to convey in a filmy style ‘daag achche hain’. Khushwant Singh had a reputation of being perverse. Well, we do not agree with it. He was a cog of social change in India.
He happened to be all season man whether you talk about his historical aptitude, poetics, as a columnist, established journalist and fizz adder to Santa and Banta. One doesn’t know who was father of Santa-Banta and how they actually came into being. There are numerous thesis regarding this myth. We researched well on the topic and found that whatever was said by pundits was either utterly rubbish or we were not convinced about it. Hereby we call it a myth now. Hence we decided to create one and bring out genius of Khushwant Singh. We want to circulate another one in the circles as Khushwant Singh is step-father of Santa and Banta.
The ageing of Khushwant Singh was always a ‘Curious Case’. His recollection equals re-living. He had written almost everything he has gone through still he missed out something of his own. Firstly, Khushwant Singh happened to be two hundred years old. Hundred years he had lived and hundred years he narrated. As much as he has lived he is narrating. In exponential term his life is doubled. Secondly, he had lived only fifty years only half of his life. The half had been spent in narrating. This is how time and space converges in his case. There exists quite a tale of his date of birth.
We came back from Delhi few days back only, couldn’t meet him, goes without saying that we were not expected. But because of busy schedule we missed Khushwant Singh T-Shirts from 1469, a shop in Janpath Marg. No regrets we ordered it online.
People have numerous opinion of him. The one we vividly remember from our brother writer cum photojournalist in Hindustan Times Himanshu Vyas, “Is he an author?” Many people loathe him for what he has written. We take Khushwant Singh to a different scale of intellectual authority. He is a philosopher and has established himself as a founder of bhelpuri writings. His narration was not like others. There has been many fast moving plot writers in last two decades but no one has got the stimulating style which he has got. He will always be the most read ‘Son of Sardar’.
The English minor vice of drinking, his discipline, popular college grapevine of ‘damn sexy passages yaar’, malice, history, Illustrated Weekly and endless discussion will not be able to quench the thirst of ours. Not even after writing this small note. The quality of ‘Man’ was something or another used to cook in his brain. One who can be agnostic and enjoy keertan at same time. Alas! All of it comes to end on the unfortunate day, leaving a legacy of inspiration to three generation and generations to come.