New Delhi :In the year he would have turned 100, a collection of Khushwant Singh’s forgotten works, as diverse as the man himself, have been put together by his daughter in the form of a book- Portrait of a Serial Killer.
Edited and compiled by Mala Dayal, the collection is a compilation of Singh’s varied writings; from his time reporting on stories for the Planning Commission magazine ‘Yojana’, to his columns for newspapers after his retirement besides juicy tidbits of his time spent with several celebrities.
The launch of the book here last evening served as an occasion for Singh’s near and dear to indulge in some fond and some not-so-fond recollections of the beloved author, journalist, columnist, part-time writer of horoscopes and full-time writer of joke books.
For someone who has vivid memories of Khushwant, his grand daughter Naina Dayal recalled the times spent with the grand old man, from walks in the Lodhi Garden that would turn into impromptu quizzes on architecture of the Bada Gumbad, to drearily silent dinners sharp at 8 pm.
“In my early childhood, nana did some grandfatherly things. He would get me chocolates, ice cream and Campa Cola. He also did some non-grandfatherly things. During our walks in Lodhi garden, he identified plants and birds. He told me about the Lodhis and the architecture of the Bada Gumbad Masjid. And then proceeded to quiz me on things he had just spoken about.
“By the age of three, I knew such things as the Latin name of Madhumalati and many more details about the first battle of Panipat that any three-year old should know,” she said.
“My mother tells me that he was a more indulgent grandfather than a father: she and her brother were lectured on much more than the flora and fauna of the Lodhi gardens,” she adds.
Cutting across several time periods, the collection not only holds up a mirror to society across the ages, it also lends a glimpse into Singh’s uncanny gift of striking a chord with people from distant ends of socio-economic strata.