**An author who lives in my heart**
The first time I chanced on his book was somewhere in the year ’98. I am not sure which year it was. But, I was still a teen in school. The place was some famous book store in Delhi. My dad was on some official tour and, mum and I tagged along. And, all three of us felt happy in the book store for different reasons. Mum was busy scouring through the academic sections so that she could get the best books on Math and Physics for me. My dad who was then under the AOL spell was following the spirtuality section.
I was in my happiest avatar for two reasons,
One, I wanted to read some adult books and my parents weren’t really aware of my thoughts.
And two, i could spend hours reading a book there and push off without buying it.
(Nasty, no? No, actually)
And, this book caught my eye. The title read – ‘In the company of women’. The author was Late Kushwant Singh, someone my dad had once mentioned as one of the few authors who could talk sense in a way that even daggers felt like Cupid’s arrows! I had read a few of his editorial columns…and maybe, I never understood much at that age. But, I loved the way he wrote, regardless.
So, where was I?
And, I took this book and gleefully began to read the book. It did not take me long to figure out that it was definitely a book that transcended all realms of morality and that, my parents weren’t the only ones who would scrutinize a teen for picking that book. Apparently, a matronly bispectacled lady just stepped in out of nowhere while she began going through some books. And, she saw me.
That one stare which was probably just a few seconds, felt like the Sun shining directly on my eyes. I promptly kept the book back and, joined my parents like the innocent kid who went searching for Agatha Christe but landed with some book that spelt soft porn! Never mind. I got a book on different types of snakes IN India.
Post marriage and, a child later…..When my husband saw that book, he cringed. He feels squeamish whenever I go vocal about my obsession and fear of snakes, serpents and paranormal. Well, the obsession continues to stick with me. 😎😎
But then, ain’t I digressing by habit?
Cut back to the time post that incident….., I probably read just a few chapters of that ‘blasphemous’ book then and, forgot all about this episode after returning home.
The same year, there was a short story – ‘The mark of Vishnu’ by Kushwant Singh in my English prose. I was addicted to that story and to an extent that, I wished to tell the old man thay the ending was gut wrenching for me. But then, it is the same writing style that made me fall in love with this author because, he writes truth as it is – bold and ugly. One of his books ‘Train to Pakistan’, which I read in some library years back did make my gut flip. But then, wasn’t truth always bizzare? That is what this man has been trying to convince the world about.
And after all these years, I picked up a book at Kolkata airport. The book was titled – ‘Truth, Love and a little malice’.
I am still savouring the chapters of this autobiography, which evidently became his last book too. And, this book is a revelation on every page. In a world, where everyone wants to appear ‘the messiah’, ‘the holy’, ‘the successful’ , ‘the morally incorruptible’…., this man succeeds in destroying all those myths and notions and, proves that to be oneself the way one is destined to be, is the biggest challenge ever.
Kushwant Singh won his challenge at ‘century – 1’
His obituary to self remains one of its kind – “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.”
Long live the fiesty Sardar in our hearts!