Till death do us unite

THE GOOD that men do is oft interred with their bones. That is what William Shakespeare wrote about the death of Julius Caesar. However, in the case of Khushwant Singh, both enfant terrible and doyen of Indian English literature, the spirit of generosity he showed during his life will continue even after his death.



Born in a village in what is now Pakistan, the nonagenarian remains the son of both the neighbouring countries, having loved both and grieved for the sorrows of both. Now a part of his ashes will make the journey back to Hadali village where his story had begun nine decades ago, to be back home finally and be laid down to rest. According to Khushwant Singh’s son Rahul, his father had always longed for greater Indo-Pak amity and taking the ashes back to Pakistan would act as an emotional bridge connecting the hearts of the two nations. Besides being born in Pakistan, the lawyer in Khushwant Singh was also nurtured there. He studied law at the Government College in Lahore and there are tales that even after India and Pakistan were separated, he was invited to become a judge in Pakistan by Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Pakistan’s founder.

After his death last week, tributes have poured in from Pakistan with old acquaintances, both close and chance ones, saying how warm he remained to his brethren from Pakistan, even after becoming a legend in India. There are also stories of how his doors always remained open to visitors from Pakistan. As one mourner wrote in the Times of Oman, “Perhaps, the most loved Indian in Pakistan, suffice it to say, he will be equally missed in Lahore as in Delhi.” As Khushwant Singh’s last remains make the journey to Pakistan, the sorrow at his passing away will give way to the healing certainty that his memory would serve to bring the peoples of the two countries together. While India and Pakistan have been separated by politics, the aspirations, joys and woes of the two nations remain the same and we need more people like Khushwant Singh to underline the feeling of kinship.


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