Tuesday, Nov 29, 2022
Outlook.com
EXCLUSIVE
khushwant singh on retirement

‘I May Die Any Day Now’

His zest is alive, but Khushwant puts his column-writing to rest

‘I May Die Any Day Now’
Courtesy: Penguin India/Dinesh Khanna
‘I May Die Any Day Now’
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

Such A Long Journey...

  • Khushwant’s career as a journalist started while he was a briefless lawyer in Lahore in 1940, and wrote regularly for the Tribune, contributing book reviews and profiles under the byline ‘KS’
  • His first regular column appeared in Yojana, launched by the government to publicise its five-year plans. The columns were “smothered under government garbage” but still managed to draw readers and create controversies
  • 1969 saw the birth of India’s most widely-read column, Editor’s Page, in the Illustrated Weekly of India under his now famous sardar-in-lightbulb logo
  • The column migrated with him, first to the National Herald, and in 1980, to the Hindustan Times
  • Other newspapers began to eye his wildly popular column, with the Sunday Observer the first to buy the rights to it in 1981
  • When he left Hindustan Times in the mid-’80s, his column became so widely syndicated that his friend, Aveek Sarkar of the Ananda Bazaar group of newspapers, persuaded him to start a second column. His two columns appeared every week without fail for the last 30 years in a dozen national dailies and translated into all the major Indian languages, making him India’s best-known columnist.

***

Last week, lakhs of newspaper readers across the country woke up to find their weekly fix missing. The ‘Sardar in the lightbulb’, loved and loathed in over 17 Indian languages, had hung up his pen without saying goodbye. After more than 70 uninterrupted years of ceaselessly needling readers, Khushwant Singh suddenly decided he’d had enough. “I’m 97,” (he isn’t, he’s 96) “I may die any day now,” is all he’ll say about his self-imposed exile into silence.

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