“My father (Khushwant Singh) liked being criticised. There was this greatness about him as he never considered himself mportant. He loved self-deprecating. He used to relish narrating an anecdote. Once he received an envelope from abroad. The envelope was addressed to Khushwant Singh, Bastard, India. He would regale his friends by showing them the envelope, expressing his sheer delight that the envelope reached him. The postman brought it to him,” says Rahul Singh, journalist and author, in an interview with Cine Ink’s Pervaiz Alam.
Cine Ink, a digital medium of news and views, was the media partner at The Khushwant Singh Literary Festival (KSLF), as it turned up in London for the first time, six years after it began in Kasauli, a tiny hill station and cantonment in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh in Northern India.
A half-day meet of authors, poets, academics, historians and journalists on 17 May 2018 at The May Fair Hotel in Westminster, followed by a cocktail party in the hotel bar, turned out to be a day of paying tributes to Khushwant Singh through laughters and tears.
Named after India’s legendary columnist, author, iconoclast and historian Khushwant Singh, KSLF had invited an impressive line-up of speakers.
Khushwant Singh’s work has been syndicated in 20 publications across India and translated into 17 Indian languages. He has written over a hundred and fifty novels both fiction and non-fiction.
Responding to a controversy over the venue, Rahul Singh, senior journalist, author and son of Khushwant Singh confirms that initially the venue for the KSLF in London was supposed to be the Nehru Centre in South Audley Street, cultural wing of the High Commission of India (HCI). But later they (HCI) withdrew the permission.
On being asked that according to some sources the HCI was concerned about some of the speakers who were likely to criticise the Indian government, led by PM Modi, Mr Singh said he did not think so. “I told them (HCI) there was only one session which was a bit political, but it was a session led by Lord (Meghnad) Desai, who is pro government. They said (HCI) ‘it’s an election year. They wanted to play safe.’ So, I don’t blame them. Luckily, we got The May Fair Hotel.”
Rahul Singh says his father used to have only two images in his study at heir Kasauli home. These were the photos of Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa.