MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA APRIL 02, 2014 00.15 A.M.
This obituary is a much delayed blog post . I wanted to write it immediately after sad demise of Shri Khushwant Singh ji . He died on March 20, 2014 at the age of 99 . But due to work pressure of my acting institute , I was , unfortunately , not able to do that .
I came to know about him in 1969 . In my life , 1967 is a watershed year . I left Deoria , my home town in Uttar Pradesh and landed in Allahabad for higher studies . In the hostel of Government Inter College , Allahabad , I was introduced to new horizons , unknown vistas and leading Indian luminaries .
In 1969 , after completing intermediate , I took admission in Allahabad University . I started living in Sir Ganga Nath Jha Hostel . There I got to know about Khushwant Singh , who shot into fame because of the unprecedented success of The Illustrated Weekly of India . In the reading room of my hostel , for the first time , I had a chance to glance the above mentioned weekly magazine . A bearded Sardar ji sitting in a light bulb with volumes of books , bottles of booze and photos of buxom beauties , attracted my attention . I read his editorial page week after week and became a life – long fan . As I started knowing him more , my admiration for him grew .
Just look at the startling facts of his fascinating life :
+ In 1938 he started his professional career as a practising lawyer . He worked at Lahore Court for eight years.
+ In 1947 he entered Indian Foreign Service . He started as Information Officer of the Government of India in Toronto, Canada . He was Press Attaché and Public Officer for the Indian High Commission for four years in London and Ottawa .
+ In 1951 he joined the All India Radio as a journalist .
+ Between 1954 and 1956 he worked in Department of Mass Communication of UNESCO at Paris .
+ From 1956 he turned editor. He had edited Yojana , an Indian government journal ; The Illustrated Weekly of India , a newsweekly ; and two major Indian newspapers , The National Herald and the Hindustan Times . During his tenure, The Illustrated Weekly became India’s pre-eminent newsweekly, with its circulation raising from 65,000 to 400000 .
I still have some old , dog – eared and pale copies of The Illustrated Weekly of India in the study of my Deoria house . I felt sad , when I read that one day on 25 July 1978 , a week before he was to retire, the management asked him to leave ” with immediate effect ” . He was the editor of the magazine for 9 years , from 1969 to 1978 precisely . The circulation rose to 4,00,000 from the previous 65,000 . After his departure it plummeted again .
I read that he woke up at 4.00 AM each day to write his columns by hand . His works ranged from political commentary and contemporary satire to translations of Sikh religious texts and Urdu poetry . He also wrote his highly popular column ” With Malice Towards One and All “ regularly . It was widely syndicated in all the famous news papers .
Books of Khushwant Singh :
- The Mark of Vishnu and Other Stories, 1950
- The History of Sikhs, 1953
- Train to Pakistan, 1956
- The Voice of God and Other Stories, 1957
- I Shall Not Hear the Nightingale, 1959
- The Sikhs Today, 1959
- The Fall of the Kingdom of the Punjab, 1962
- A History of the Sikhs, 1963
- Ranjit Singh: The Maharajah of the Punjab, 1963
- Ghadar 1915: India’s first armed revolution, 1966
- A History of the Sikhs, 1966 (2nd edition)
- A Bride for the Sahib and Other Stories, 1967
- Black Jasmine, 1971
- Tragedy of Punjab, 1984
- Delhi: A Novel, 1990
- Sex, Scotch and Scholarship: Selected Writings, 1992
- Not a Nice Man to Know: The Best of Khushwant Singh, 1993
- We Indians, 1993
- Women and Men in My Life, 1995
- Uncertain Liaisons; Sex, Strife and Togetherness in Urban India, 1995
- Declaring Love in Four Languages, by Khushwant Singh and Sharda Kaushik, 1997
- The Company of Women, 1999
- Truth, Love and a Little Malice (an autobiography), 2002
- With Malice towards One and All
- The End of India, 2003
- Burial at the Sea, 2004
- Paradise and Other Stories, 2004
- A History of the Sikhs: 1469–1838, 2004
- Death at My Doorstep, 2005
- A History of the Sikhs: 1839–2004, 2005
- The Illustrated History of the Sikhs, 2006
- Why I Supported the Emergency: Essays and Profiles, 2009
- The Sunset Club, 2010
- Agnostic Khushwant: There is no God, 2012 ISBN 978-9-381-43111-5
- The Good, the Bad and the Ridiculous, 2013 (Co-authored with Humra Qureshi)
Short story collections
- The Mark of Vishnu and Other Stories. London, Saturn Press, 1950.
- The Voice of God and Other Stories. Bombay, Jaico, 1957.
- A Bride for the Sahib and Other Stories. New Delhi, Hind, 1967.
- Black Jasmine. Bombay, Jaico, 1971
- The Collected Stories. N.p., Ravi Dayal, 1989.
- The Portrait of a Lady
- The Strain
- Success Mantra
- A Love Affair In London
- ना काहू से दोस्ती ना काहू से बैर
Television Documentary: Third World—Free Press (also presenter; Third Eye series), 1983 (UK).
I am his admirer and shall always be that , till I am alive . It is strange that he attracted large number of people , who became life – long fan . Though he was a Gandhi – Nehru sympathiser , still he had my unflinching admiration . Even Shri Lal Krishna Advani is an admirer , whom he vehemently criticized for his role in Ram Janma Bhoomi Movement of Ayodhya .
It is strange , as well as unique . I am baffled and amazed .
On behalf of all the students and staff of VIDUR Acting Institute , I offer my condolences to the family and legions of admirers of Khushwant Singh ji.
VIDUR Editing Studio , and VIDUR Club also pray for the departed soul .
May you REST IN PEACE Sir ! I , a believer and idol worshipper , will always miss an unapologetic atheist and crusader iconoclast like you .
[ Acknowledgment : I have taken some facts of his life and information about his books from Wikipedia . I have copied the list from Wikipedia and posted it here . Expressing gratitude . ]
MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA
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