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Students, teachers and journalists remember Khushwant Singh

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He set new benchmarks for literature in independent India. This Sikh’s love for poetry, avidity to make people laugh and his well known ardor for Indian literature made him a pivotal author and journalist among the Indian readers.

On the 20th day of this March, Khushwant Singh passed away at the age of 99. The writer who led a wholesome life was suffering from breathing problems. Khushwant Singh had contributed to the literature for over six decades now. Apart from numerous short story collections, Singh wrote over 50 books during his tenure.

Jasleen Kaur, a literature student from St. Stephen’s College from where Khushwant Singh also got his degree says, “Reading Khushwant Singh’s work would be a treat for any reader. He makes his reader very much a part of his stories that we cannot withdraw our self from it, even if we want to. I still remember how his Train to Pakistan gave me goosebumps.”

Khushwant Singh was known to take up topics which undertook him through a personal experience or which were of a delicate nature to a certain community or cast. He also portrayed matters of religion and God through his books. He was also known for portraying gender and sex as an important subject to write on. Ms. Kajori Sen, an anchor at NDTV 24X7 says, “Khushwant Singh’s death essentially means end of an era. What he represented not only as a satirist but as a chronicler of India’s Independence and many of the events that transpired thereafter is incredibly significant. If we look at the books that he has written he was very critical, also very appreciative and had a clarity of vision which was inspiration for journalists for generations.”

Khushwant Sahab also took up the mission to bring out the unknown facts about Punjab and Sikhs through his writings. Bhawsheel Sahni, a sikh himself says, “His identity for sikhs is unquestionable. He was straightforward man. For me he was that person who would say that he drinks alcohol and not say that he mixes it with coke. He will be one of the best modern literature writers. With Malice towards one and all is that type of column which even the politician and well as the middle class man will associate with.” With Malice Towards One and All – the weekly column of Khushwant Singh that appeared in over 100 newspapers of India including The Telegraph, Hindustan Times and The Pioneer is known to be one of the most widely read columns of the nation.

He was also the former editor of Hindustan Times. As a journalist, he also edited ‘Illustrated Weekly Of India.’ Anne Cherian, a senior correspondent with Times of India says, “Khushwant Singh has left a rich legacy of literary work for the generations to come. Be it as a author, journalist or jester, he was fearless when it came to wielding the pen. He will always inspire the writers behind him.”

Khushwant was one person who could laugh on himself. He was famous for his wicked sense of humor among people of all age groups. Kajori Sen agrees by saying that, “The other thing that Khushwant Singh had which was hugely important was his sense of humour. Too often, there is a sense that journalism as a profession in India takes itself far too seriously. Khushwant was giving the imperils to that fact. As he himself said when he was 28, he didn’t want anybody to give a damn about what they were saying as long as they were saying it well.”

Ms. Kajori who had met Khushwant Singh a few months back to check whether the rumours of the author’s death are true or not, added, “It is a huge loss to the country but we can all be fortunate in saying, he had a great run, he was a great man. 99 years of Khushwant Singh mean that we have rich, journalistic, literary and historical tradition.”

He catered to the reading needs of all age groups and people from all professions. Maitry Barua, Head of English Department at Hansraj College, Delhi University said, “We can never find such a writer again. Someone who mixed his journalistic skills with a side of literary touch to his writings. He was the master poet. Someone who loved nature and his sarcasm and wit was unquestionable. As a teacher, I have both read and taught his stories and books. But something for which he will be remembered throughout is Train to Pakistan, which only someone like Khushwant can write.”

Khushwant Singh’s physical absence does not mean that he will be forgotten, his books will always adorn our bookshelves, for he is now in the realm of immortal writers.

([email protected]); IInd year commerce student at Hans Raj College, Delhi University, Iresh inherited writing from nobody. Not equipped well with mind of a business maestro, he just likes to sit back with a cup of tea trying to balance journalism and poetry. One can generally find him chit-chatting with people (strangers and known, both) or struggling in the overcrowded city of Delhi looking for a seat to watch a play or some Bollywood film, at a cheap price ofcourse. (He hates people who hate Bollywood). An anchor, compère and interviewer, he also enjoys event management and cooking. Known well for his sense of humour, Iresh aspires to integrate his three interests of Movies, Marketing and Writing to make something out of his unproductive life as his elder generation terms it to be.

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