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Khushwant Singh was a fearless writer, not just by profession, but in every sphere of his life. This inspiring writer’s life leaves behind many lessons for all of us.
I think every writer starts writing with poetry, or two line couplets…. whenever it is, maybe in childhood or when he just thought of writing or at any point of his journey. The form of poetry arrives in a writer’s mind spontaneously; he or she starts sensing it as his own breath.
On World Poetry Day (March 21, 2014), recognized by the worldwide writers’ community (or poetry-mad group!), we mourned Khushwant Singh’s death. He wrote about his own life and behavioral attitude to his own being: I would like to be remembered as someone who made people smile. A few years ago, I wrote my own epitaph: ‘Here lies one who spared neither man nor God; Waste not your tears on him, he was a sod; Writing nasty things he regarded as great fun; Thank the Lord he is dead, this son of a gun.’
His name left behind the relevance of the life he led – up to the end of his own life. At 99, he died and just passed on as he had always wished for – silently, with full sense, perhaps without disturbing others. An atheist by thought and nature, confidently he chose many a times those very topics for his writing from acclaimed religious teachings; nothing could stop him from doing so.
Atheism and his fearlessness did not prevent him from following his own tradition and cultural values. We always saw him in his turban or the attire that defined him as a true Sikh. When these days, a religious person himself doesn’t follow or hesitates to follow his own culture, then Khushwant Singh’s inclination towards his culture astonished us, and repeatedly reminds us of him as a Sikh, and a fearless writer not just by profession but by heart.
A mind should be free from any religion but not our age old culture – I think this is a lesson from him, who received the Padmabhushan award, returned the Padmabhushan award, supported the emergency led by Sanjay Gandhi, was a blind supporter of Indira Gandhi, wrote many books and articles on religion as well as sex, relationships, women, men, love, his surroundings, his likes, dislikes, was fun loving like a child (quite visible in his cartoons), and obviously – a man of substance who always walked life ahead of his own time.
Truly, every writer or avid reader should read all his writings, books, articles, editorials to enrich his or her own perimeter of writing, style, friendships, fun filled work life, relationships, political views and for all that always inspires a writer’s mind.
Pic credit: Penguin Books India
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