Today, the 99 years old veteran, the lovable, the straight forward, the wine lover, the versatile and ever popular Khushwant Singh breathed his last. Just last month he had celebrated his 99th Birthday on 2nd February.
Singh was best known for his trenchant secularism, his humour, and an abiding love for poetry.
See this video about this great author.
I have read very few books of him. However, the most interesting was his column ‘Malice towards None’ which used to get published in various newspapers of India till a few years ago. Being very old, he had stopped writing for the past few years.
Here are some of the most interesting and very very though provoking quotes from various of his works.
“That’s Delhi. When life gets too much for you all you need to do is to spend an hour at Nigambodh Ghat,watch the dead being put to flames and hear their kin wail for them. Then come home and down a couple of pegs of whisky. In Delhi, death and drink make life worth living,” ― Khushwant Singh, Delhi.
“Freedom is for the educated people who fought for it. We were slaves of the English, now we will be slaves of the educated Indians—or the Pakistanis.” -Train to Pakistan
“The last to learn of gossip are the parties concerned” -Train to Pakistan.
“Morality is a matter of money. Poor people cannot afford to have morals. So they have religion.” ― Khushwant Singh.
“I am back in my beloved city. The scene of desolation fills my eyes with tears. At every step my distress and agitation increases. I cannot recognize houses or landmarks I once knew well. Of the former inhabitants, there is no trace. Everywhere there is a terrible emptiness. All at once I find myself in the quarter where I once resided. I recall the life I used to live: meeting friends in the evening, reciting poetry, making love, spending sleepless nights pining for beautiful women and writing verses on their long tresses which held me captive. That was life! What is there left of it? Nothing.” ― Khushwant Singh, Delhi
“I asked my soul: What is Delhi? She replied: The world is the body and Delhi its life. Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib” ―Khushwant Singh, Delhi: A Novel
“The Hindus hatred of the Mussalmans did not make sense to me. The Muslims had conquered Hindustan. Why hadn’t our gods saved us from them? There was that Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni who had invaded Hindustan seventeen, times—not once or twice but seventeen times. He had destroyed the temple of Chakraswamy at Thanesar and nothing happened to him. Then Somnath. They said that even the sea prostrated itself twice every twenty-four hours to touch the feet of Somnath. But even the sea did not rise to save Somnathji from Mahmud.” ―Delhi: A Novel.
“I realized that I belonged neither to the Hindus nor to the Mussalmans. How could I explain to my wife that while the Brahmins lived on offerings made to their gods, the Rajputs and the Jats had their lands, Aheers and the Gujars their cattle, the Banias their shops, all that the poor Kayasthas had were their brains and their reed pens! And the only people who could pay for their brains and their pens were the rulers who were Muslims!” ― Delhi: A Novel
“Not forever does the bulbul sing
In balmy shades of bowers,
Not forever lasts the spring
Nor ever blossom the flowers.
Not forever reigneth joy,
Sets the sun on days of bliss,
Friendships not forever last,
They know not life, who know not this.” ― Train to Pakistan.
“We had heard that the people of Delhi loved their city as bees love flowers. But we could not believe that the child of a courtesan would prefer to live in a Delhi brothel rather than in our palace in Iran!” ― Delhi: A Novel.
We all shall miss you dear Khushwant Singh ji !