L E T T E R S    T O    T H E    E D I T O R

Go laughing, Sir

From the sandy dunes of Hadali, he crisscrossed the world till he rested in that island in the middle of the madness that is Delhi. A lawyer, diplomat, editor, legislator and writer, he wore every hat with aplomb. He thought nothing of lambasting friends and foes alike. He was the ultimate gossipmonger and merrily cocked a snook at every holy cow. He was the king of trivia. Probably the biggest writer of syndicated columns, he could expound on serious national issues to stale jokes to his daily bowel movements with equal nonchalance. Apart from the compilation of mostly useless joke books, which I suspect he published simply to fund his premium Scotch, my favourites are the Partition classic ‘Train To Pakistan’ and his account of the Mughals, Delhi.

A friend of many contemporary poets, he translated Urdu/Persian poetry into English. And who can forget his ‘History of The Sikhs’ which is one of the finest works on the subject.

I remember with fondness his period of editorship of ‘The Illustrated Weekly of India’. He thought nothing of publishing nude pictures of Marilyn Monroe and others. Every week, it would be a race between my father and me to take the first look at the magazine. If he got it first, he would tear off the offending pictures/articles lest they corrupt my mind. If only Daddy dear, may his soul rest in peace, knew that I would head for the library and feast my eyes.

Sardar Kushwant Singh, you taught us to laugh at ourselves. I know you are doing just that somewhere else too. Go laughing, Sir…….

Vijendra Trighatia, via email

Khushwant was fearless

In the passing away of Khushwant Singh, we have lost an author of great perception and skill. With his sharp writings, he exposed the many foibles in the Indian political and social system. He wrote very simple prose, in an-easy-to-read style, but made strong points, which appealed to a wide range of readers across various educational levels.

He was also a fearless man. He supported Indira Gandhi’s Emergency in 1975, because he thought it would improve the country. However, he returned the honours given to him by the government, when Mrs Gandhi authorised the military operation in the Golden Temple in 1984.

During his editorship of the ‘Illustrated Weekly of India’, the sales of magazine zoomed to an all-time high. Yet, he was not bitter when he had to leave suddenly. In his autobiography, he writes that when an office peon served him his termination letter, he just picked up his umbrella and went out. The weekly never recovered and eventually shut down.

He replied to every letter he received, personally. When I had sent him some writings over two decades ago, he sent a short, simple letter encouraging me. His son Rahul Singh served his Dad dutifully when he was unwell.

Rajendra K. Aneja, Dubai

Week-ends won’t be same

The legendary Khushwant Singh is the most prolific and most read Indian writer in English. Contrary to the wish in his epitaph, tears welled up in my eyes for the wise ‘sod’ while reading the obituary and other material written as a tribute to the literary colossus who spared none, had malice for one and all, and, this above all, was not a nice man to know. The 'dirty man' loved Scotch, sex and spicy satire. Though lately the ‘death wish’ had started craning its neck in his columns, Khushwant lived with zeal. And he lived life on his own terms. He died in harness, at 99!

His columns in newspapers and magazines, including The Tribune, albeit irregular for the last many months, had earlier appeared with religious regularity. Sadly, week-ends will never be the same now.

I came to know about Khushwant through an American friend James Paul 45 years ago when I was an under-graduate student. James gave me his celebrated novel ‘Train to Pakistan’ for reading, which I did in one go. I never dreamt then that several years later I would be teaching this novel to the under-graduate classes!

Jaswant Singh Gandam, Phagwara

Sikh historian

I admired Khushwant Singh’s fearless writings and pieces published in The Tribune and I have treasured some of them. His book ‘History of the Sikhs’ was different from other Sikh historians on the subject. May Lord Govinda bless his soul.

Mastan Singh Rana, Perth

Letters to the Editor, typed in double space, should not exceed the 200-word limit. These should be cogently written and can be sent by e-mail to: [email protected]



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