‘Absolute Khushwant’ by Khushwant Singh and Humra Quraishi

khushwant“An old man is entitled to his secrets, fantasies, Scotch, good company,”

says the inimitable Khushwant Singh at 95. The name was a taboo in my younger days, for what he was known most for was ‘sleaze and scotch.’ Reading his articles in the occasional ‘Illustrated Weekly’ I was lucky enough to get my hands on , the title bestowed on him was difficult to believe, at times. ‘Train to Pakistan’ was the first of his books that I came across. How could this man write about something so serious was the first thought. Finished it in one go and it was after many a day that the pain subsided. The next one was ‘The Portrait of a Lady’ and I was in love with this ‘notorious’ author.

‘Absolute Khushwant’ is a collection of his thoughts and experiences on writing, religion, people he admire, partition, the Delhi riots, in short, his life. The one trait that comes through is his honesty, in all areas of his life, including his unhappy marriage. Here is a sample,

“I have never taken anyone seriously, least of all myself. I have always been a nosy person, forever probing into other people’s private lives. I love to gossip and have an insatiable appetite for scandal.”

The picture that he paints elsewhere sounds contradictory as he tells us about his work ethics.

“Over the years I have discovered what enormous energy silence creates, energy that socializing and useless chit chat depletes.”

The partition and the 1984 Delhi riots left a deep impact on him and it is evident that he could never get over the pain. His concern for the religious fundamentalism had landed him in trouble , he was on top of the Khalistani hit list. Even an almost successful attempt at his life did not stop him from speaking out about what he believed in. His philosophy on life is best summarized in his own words,

” I would like to be remembered as someone who made people smile.”

Isn’t that essence of being a true human being?

Verdict – An absolutely delightful read, whether you have read him before is irrelevant. Perfect for a pleasant afternoon.


About wanderlustathome

Dabbling in numbers for a living while dreaming of words all the while.

Posted on January 24, 2014, in 4*, Autobiography, Biography, Indian Authors, Memoirs, Real Life Stories, reflections. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I should read his books…never thought of this author before !! Its honesty through words that appeal to the reader, which is me. Hoping to get one of his books soon 🙂

  2. This does sound like a delightful book, a good introduction to Khushwant Singh. I have never read him before.

    You make all of his other books sound so delicious, too!

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