Khushwant Singh and Two Truths about Death !

Khushwant Singh , a prolific and much read writer in India; died due to natural causes on 20 March 2014 at his Delhi-based residence, at the age of 99. He was survived by his son and daughter. He was cremated at Lodhi Crematorium in Delhi in the afternoon of the same day.

Those who don’t know Khushwant Singh, must know that he’s the writer of iconic novel Train To Pakistan.

During the last few decades of his life, particularly since he started keeping unwell , he started thinking more and more about death and the inevitability of it.

As a great fan of Khushwant Singh’s writings, which featured on various newspapers in India; I found that Khushwant Singh made these two conclusions about Death :

1) Death is Inevitable , that is no one can escape death. Every person who takes birth has to die some day.

2) People have a natural fear for death.

Khushwant Singh had imbibed these two beliefs about Death during his lifetime. He also chose his responses to the two.

Seeing the death an inevitable event in any mortal’s life, Khushwant Singh accepted it. As far as the fear of death of goes, he chose not to fear the death. His usual response being: If death is inevitable, then why ruin one’s living days with the fear of it. In short, Khushwant Singh chose not to have the natural fear of death.

According to his son, Rahul Singh, Khushwant Singh died peacefully in his sleep. He also died the way he always wished for. That’s just an evening before the day he died, he had his peg of fine scotch. In the morning of the day he died, he read newspapers. In short, he died with his mental faculties intact, a rarity for someone close to his century.

Throughout his life, Khushwant Singh proved himself as a liberal man with honest opinions. But religion is something which makes its grasp on most agnostic of people, and they too start sporting one religious symbol or the other. For instance, in late 1990s, in his much syndicated column, With Malice Towards One and All, Khushwant Singh once wrote the wastefulness of traditional wood cremation (where wood is used to cremate the dead). He wrote about his desire to be buried or cremated in an electric crematorium. He even expressed his desire to be buried by Baha’i Foundation (The people behind Lotus Temple in Delhi), without any Epitaph constructed over it, so that the same spot can be used for future burials. Don’t know how far this of his desire was fulfilled.

His last book ‘The Good, The Bad and The Ridiculous’ was released in October 2013.