Memories of Khushwant Singh

I remember visiting Khushwant Singh in Kasauli about 6 years ago with my friends among who was Roopinder Singh, who had arranged the meeting. I was to interview Khushwant for an article. It was 4 PM on a summer’s day and he’d invited us for tea.
We walked down the winding pathway to his sprawling bungalow. He was sitting outside in the lawn scribbling something on a note pad. He looked up and smiled and invited us to be seated on white wicker chairs and then ordered us tea and biscuits.
There were several remarkable things that I remember about my (only) meeting with the man.
Number 1: his utter ease with his surroundings and with himself. He was wearing a kurta-pyjama with a sweater that was several sizes too big for him, and as he sipped his tea, he kept chatting with us and simultaneously threatening the monkeys who were swinging from the trees and stomping on the roof, uncomfortably close and  I thought they looked big and menacing. ‘You rascals! He would shout! ‘Come! I’ll get you with this…’ and he would wave a stick at them. Seemed like it was a game they played with each other pretty often, because the monkeys seemed to be laughing with him!
Number two: his twinkling eyes that could get pretty piercing. You couldn’t exchange a look without him following it.
Number three: His phenomenal memory. Some reference took us to King Lear and we sat open mouthed as he reeled reams and reams of Shakespeare. I ventured to suggest that he say some limericks, and we were treated to about a 100 of them, each more ‘robust’ than the other!
The tremendous ‘aliveness’ of the man was, to me, his defining feature. We were there for about 45 minutes, but he’s going to live with me for a lifetime.

Categorized as The Chronic-colour