The launch of the book, 'Khushwant Singh: In wisdom and in jest' turned into an occasion to reminisce the epitome of wits, wisdom and humour. Recently, the book, co-authored by Onkar Singh and Vijay narain Shankar, senior journalists, was released during an event organised by the Press Club of India. In the words of the authors, "The book is a work of empathy and affection for an extra ordinary man who strode the stage of life for 99 years with a great creative talent, an indomitable courage to write and speak the truth, and exemplary integrity as a human being."
Khushwant's ideology towards life had always made him prone to criticism. He tagged himself as an agnostic and disapproved the concept of God. But the book talks about his actions which were quite contradictory to his verbal behaviour.
The book mentions that Khushwant was often seen visiting the Gurudrawa Bangala Sahib. Despite being a non-believer, his first literary work was a translation of the Japji sahib verses from the Sikh sculptures. He would sum up the answer about his visits to Gurudwara as "a mere contradiction".
The book launch event was graced by eminent personalities like Punjab Chief Minister, Amrinder Singh, former Attorney general Soli Sorabji, Indian economist and civil servant Montek Singh Ahluwalia along with the authors of the book who turned nostalgic while revealing hues of Khushwant's personality and moments shared in his company.
"He was a deep observer of the societal conditions. He knew the art of saying outrageous things without offending people. Khushwant was a man who spoke straight from his heart and that was a quality everyone admired. He was one of the most fascinating characters I have encountered in my life," said the CM.
On the question of Khushwant's decision to support the emergency and sterilisation in India, Singh commented, "one could agree or disagree with the methods adopted at that time, but the fact is that population was a matter of serious concern back then."
"Khushwant was a man who spoke straight from his heart and that was a quality everyone admired," Captain added.
While talking about Khushwant's religiosity, Soli Sorabji said, "I would neither call him an agnostic nor a believer. He had his own sense of religiosity. He did not want to put anything in the framework of ritualism"
The book for sure is going to throw light on the unread chapters of Khushwant's life.