For Khushwant Singh who wrote his own obituary in his twenties, death is not sacred but he reflects on it increasingly these days. In Death At My Doorstep, a collection of obituaries written over the years, he presents the dead in death, as in life?good, bad or ugly. Be it on the twilight hours of Bhutto, the gory end of Sanjay Gandhi, the sycophantic M.O. Mathai, the Marxist millionaire Rajni Patel, the overbearing Lord Mountbatten, or on his pet Alsatian Simba, each obituary bears out his irreverence or affection.
Cocking a snook at death, he has also penned his own epitaph. Yet outliving those whom he admired has moved him to tears, and many of his obituaries have left the reader with a heavy heart.
While Death At My Doorstep is Khushwant Singh's demystification of death, it also ferries his message to Badey Mian, in the words of Allama Iqbal:
Baagh-e-bahisht say mujhay hukm-e-safar diya thha kyon?
Kaar-e-Jahaan daraaz hai, ab meyra intazaar kar.
Why did you order me out of the garden of paradise?
I have a lot of work that remains unfulfilled; now you better wait for me.
About Khushwant Singh
Khushwant Singh was an Anglo-Indian writer, advocate, politician and journalist. A Padma Vibhushan awardee, Mr. Singh is best remembered for his humour, love of poetry and his vigourous treatment of secularism in his writings, most evident in: The Company of Women, Truth, Love and a Little Malice, With Malice towards One and All, The Mark of Vishnu and Other Stories and Delhi: A Novel.
A graduate of Government College, Lahore, St. Stephen's College in Delhi and King's College London, he read for the Bar at the Inner Temple and served as a practicing lawyer for nearly fifteen years before entering journalism. He has worked with The Illustrated Weekly, The National Herald and Hindustan Times. A prolific writer, Mr. Singh wrote till the grand old age of 99, releasing his last work The Good, The Bad and The Ridiculous a few months before his passing in March 2014.
ASF IYA KHAN
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Death at my doorstep
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