My joy knew no bounds when I was invited to meet the literary celebrity of India, S. Khushwant Singh. Thrilled, I took to reading him more keenly; though I had been following him from the times when the writer was the Editor of The Illustrated Weekly of India.
Way back in 2003, I had the honor to be his guest at his Kasauli House, on the occasion of the release of KR Bhati’s book titled ‘Travels to the Highlands of Himachal’.
Welcoming another into your home is an attitude of heart, a gift, and a virtue; the offer of friendship and freedom to guests. He was interested in human relations. I was deeply impressed by his hospitality and distinguished sense to value ‘in time’.
“I believe, instead, in humanity, truth, ahimsa, and hard work….” He was true to his doctrine.
The laureate spent much of his lifetime in Kasauli. The Kasauli – Kalka old road, where “A nine-kilometer track he regularly trekked.” now goes by ‘Khushwant Singh Trail’*
- There is nothing good or bad in literature. “If all scribblers were to subscribe their views identically, English would be reduced to sheer ‘Arithmetic”
“Literature is the reflection of life. Various events and experiences find representation in books.”
Being with him, I was motivated by the desire to do write-ups with rich pictorial content.
Khushwant Singh loved to bring ground realities to the forefront. He was an Indian author, lawyer, diplomat, journalist and politician.
Fearlessly outspoken, his creativity mingled with charm, courage, and humor won him laurels in the literary world. He elevated English writing in India with a touch of wit and humor, penning down serious issues like the partition of India.
- The relationship between literature and society is integral and eternal. Singh promoted social realism by addressing issues like child marriages, love, sex, politics, and religion.
His style of writing depicted Social Realism and facts in a true way. That helped him to utilize this objectivity to mix actuality and fiction.
Khushwant Singh very efficiently portrayed the real picture of contemporary society and the people’s social, political, and religious behavior. The writer showed people, things, and experiences as they were and as they appeared in everyday life, with his minute observation and the silver lining of his humanistic vision. His main concern had been the man and the reality. It omitted nothing ugly and painful and idealized nothing.
His East-West education and rural-urban life helped him portray his fictional world as a panoramic view of Indian life. He had never been a committed writer in the narrow sense of being bound up with an ideology or a school of thought. It is the business of a writer to hold a mirror to life.
Khushwant Singh’s writings will certainly stand the test of time. His sense of humor-which hid the bitter truth behind it – all go a long way to establish Khushwant Singh as a writer of merit.
He was an institution in himself; multifaceted, brimming with talents and achievements; humble and down to earth.
Prof. (Er.) Chander P Mahajan is an art critic & a free lance journalist. The Environmentalist stays in Shimla and Dalhousie, Himachal Pradesh, India.