Bebaak was the word that most Hindi news channels used for Khushwant Singh when he died.
I agree with the news channels. Khushwant Singh was bold or audacious when it came to writing on topics that are considered taboo – sex, infidelity and above all, farting.
With Khushwant Singh dead, who is going to write about farts?
He relished writing about farts and farting. Readers also equally enjoyed what he wrote.
The present crop of writers makes me hopeless. They are prude to the level of boring me.
Khushwant Singh spent years in researching for Delhil: A Novel. He considered it as his masterpiece.
Sample this from the novel (published by Penguin, year 1990, page 10, last paragraph) – …..A third friend joins us. He is an Upper Division Clerk in the Ministry of Defence. He is utilizing his unutilized sick leave. He disapproves of this king talk! ‘Five million Indians are dying of hunger in Bihar and all you fellows can think of is women.’ He shakes his foot, then jerks his legs like the arms of a nutcracker. He puts his feet on the chair and continues to amuse himself. A fart escapes his fat arse: poonh. He is embarrassed. He puts his feet down and apologizes: ‘Sorry, it was slip of the tongue.
While editing Yojana. Khushwant Singh was asked by the UNICEF to write a booklet on the organisation’s work in Afghanistan. While in Kabul, Khushwant Singh was joined by a photographer named PN Sharma.
Here’s what Khushwant Singh writes about Sharma in his autobiography Truth, Love and a Little Malice: An Autobiography (published by Viking, year 2002, page 197, second paragraph) – I wish I had done better as a photographer. Having failed miserably, I had to share a room with Sharma in Kabul Hotel, the only one in the city at the time…….He was an orthodox Brahmin who wouldn’t eat anything which remotely smelt of meat. Unfortunately for him, and more fortunately for me, the only cooking medium Afghans used was a raughan made of lamb fat. So for Sharma even rice pilaf was out. All he could eat was fresh fruit – juicy watermelons, luscious Kandhari grapes and pomegranates. They were no doubt good for his health but proved devastatingly wind-producing on an empty stomach. By the time we returned to our respective beds Sharma was like a jet plane. He produced a series of the most resounding farts I have ever heard. When I protested, he gave me a long lecture on the varieties of farts listed in ancient Sanskrit texts. The ones he was letting off, he assured me were uttam padvi – of the highest order and entirely free of odour.
In the same book he writes about Begum Para – ……. one-time super vamp of the India screen had put on a lot of weight after she married Nasir Khan (brother of superstar Yusuf, alias Dilip Kumar) ……
Page 250 (second paragraph)…By the time I had finished my quota of three large whiskeys, Begum Para had nine. The bottle was almost empty…..
Page 251 (first paragraph) At long last the meal came to an end. I got up to assist Begum Para with her chair…..As she stepped forward, she missed her step and once again collapsed on the ground, this time with a loud fart. She sprained her ankle and began to howl with pain, ‘Hai Rabba Main Mar Gayee!’