Saturday, April 2, 2005

Khushwant Singh
Search for solitude
Khushwant Singh

MOST people welcome friends and relatives dropping in. Politicians have them in droves with favour-seekers and hold daily darbars on their lawns. Others, usually described by papers as socialites organise coffee parties, luncheons, cocktail parties, receptions, bottle parties, dinner parties to ensure they have lots of people around them. Even the aged canít bear the thought of being alone. If their grown-up children are busy earning their livelihood, they turn for company to their grandchildren. If their grandchildren get bored with them or are at school, they go to temples or gurdwaras to seek solace in the company of worshippers. In short, most normal people canít bear to be alone.

Making peace with Partition
   March 26, 2005
Making of a leader
 March 19, 2005
Equality check
 March 12, 2005
One manís belief is anotherís shackle
 March 5, 2005
The good, the bad & the ugly
   February 26, 2005
The light of other days
   February 19, 2005
The fiction of Tagore
   February 12, 2005
Gossip is what gossip does
   February 5, 2005
Kingdom of God
   January 29, 2005

I am evidently not normal; so wasnít Allama Iqbal when he lamented: "Duniya kee mehfilon say ukta gayaa hoon, Ya Rab" ó (O God, I am fed up of people). I think I am a nutcase getting nuttier by the day. My patience with people is getting shorter. When my phone rings, I donít pick up the receiver, or tell blatant lies to avoid people asking to have my darshan, seek my blessings or exchange ideas. I spend more and more time in the seclusion of my bedroom pretending to be ill; or sit in my enclosed patch of garden hidden from sight behind bushes. What I would like is to live in a cave in the Himalayas inaccessible to humans but with all creature comforts like electricity, airconditioning, running hot and cold water, gourmet food served punctually at meal times, and needless to say, an inexhaustible supply of vintage wines and premium Scotch. No telephone, no TV, only satellite radio to switch on classical western music. For spiritual uplift, I would have a panoramic view of the Ganga leaping over rocks and boulders on its journey to the plains. She is the only goddess I worship because she is more beautiful than all the goddesses put together and does not demand anything besides my gazing at her in adoration.

Such fantasies erupt in my mind every year around Baisakhi when dust laden, hot winds start blowing in the plains and life in Delhi which is unpleasant enough most of the time becomes unbearable. Then words of the 121st Psalm start going round in my head: "I will lift mine eyes unto the hills whence cometh my help; my help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth." I do not have a five-star cave in the Himalayas to escape to; but I have pretty little cottage in the Shivaliks which is equipped with everything I need. It does not overlook the Ganga but a pine-covered valley running steeply downhill into the stream which has no name but on still, moonlit nights I can faintly hear the sound of its rushing waters.

Perfect mismarriage

Shobhaa De: Not the last word on marriage
Shobhaa De: Not the last word on marriage

Shobhaa Deís Spouse, emphasising the need to make love in words and deeds to keep a marriage going, has provoked Amarinder Bajaj, a gynaecologist who has seen many marriages end up on the rocks, to pen some verses highlighting the plight of women whose union did not turn out to be as blissful as Shobhaa Deís. The first spells out woes of a sati savitri, whose suhaag is more a compromise than a meeting of souls.

We share a roof

But not a bed

We share the kids

But not our dreams.

We share social space

But not our privacy

We share household


But not a home

We share small talk but

Do not communicate;

And yet I do not complain


Havenít we managed to convert

A failed marriage to

One of convenience?

De prescribes lots of sex with adequate body cleansing to keep the marriage ticking. If your spouse doesnít deliver the goods, there is an alternative:

So what if I hug a pillow at night

It does not suffer from halitosis and

Does it belch or pass foul wind.

It moulds itself which way I want and

And does not want to change sides just

When I am comfortably settled.

It doesnot force itself on me;

When Iím not in the mood

And leaves me awake

When I need to be needed,

It does not snore like a rattlesnake

With its tail on fire or speak in sleep.

It does not keep me awake,

Watching late night TV

Or wake me up early

For a cup of tea. It does not

Turn away in distaste

At my morning breath.

Which is more than can be said

Of a long-standing husband !

Idli sambhar

A Haryanvi friend sent his son on vacation to stay with a family in Chennai. Before he left, he lectured him not to behave like a Jat and to respect Tamil customs.

All went well until he was asked one morning what he thought of the idli he had for breakfast. "Tastes a bit like soap," he said without thinking. Remembering his promise to his father, he recovered adroitly, "Not that I donít like soap."

(Contributed by Reeten Ganguly, Tezpur)