Posts Tagged prose

2 minute read : HOW to LIVE and DIE ….. Khushwant Singh

Sardar Khuswant Singh, Controversial, Maverick, Blunt whatever……. I first read him in his prose of ” The pORTRAIT OF A LADY”  & ” The Mark of Vishnu in class 7 or 8. Ever since ” The Grand old man of Indian writing, has at intermittent slots come around through his columns & books. Below is just a 2 minute read excerpted from an article I read today…Had a very pleasant feel coming from a DO or DIE 95-year-old. Pick some of your like….

“Baagh-e-bahisht se mujhe hukm-e-safar diya tha kyon?Kaar-e-Jahaan daraaz hai, ab mera intezaar kar                         (Why did you order me out of the garden of paradise? I have a lot left to do; now you wait for me).

I’ve lived a reasonably contented life. I’ve often thought about what it is that makes people happy—what one has to do in order to achieve happiness.

◆ First and foremost is good health. If you do not enjoy good health, you can never be happy. Any ailment, however trivial, will deduct something from your happiness.

◆ Second, a healthy bank balance. It need not run into crores, but it should be enough to provide for comforts, and there should be something to spare for recreation—eating out, going to the movies, travel and holidays in the hills or by the sea. Shortage of money can be demoralising. Living on credit or borrowing is demeaning and lowers one in one’s own eyes.

◆ Third, your own home. Rented places can never give you the comfort or security of a home that is yours for keeps. If it has garden space, all the better. Plant your own trees and flowers, see them grow and blossom, and cultivate a sense of kinship with them.

◆ Fourth, an understanding companion, be it your spouse or a friend. If you have too many misunderstandings, it robs you of your peace of mind. It is better to be divorced than to be quarrelling all the time.

◆ Fifth, stop envying those who have done better than you in life—risen higher, made more money, or earned more fame. Envy can be corroding; avoid comparing yourself with others.

◆Sixth, do not allow people to descend on you for gup-shup. By the time you get rid of them, you will feel exhausted and poisoned by their gossip-mongering.Since I have no faith in God, nor in the day of judgement, nor in reincarnation, I have to come to terms with the complete full stop.

◆ Seventh, cultivate a hobby or two that will fulfil you—gardening, reading, writing, painting, playing or listening to music. Going to clubs or parties to get free drinks, or to meet celebrities, is a criminal waste of time. It’s important to concentrate on something that keeps you occupied meaningfully. I have family members and friends who spend their entire day caring for stray dogs, giving them food and medicines. There are others who run mobile clinics, treating sick people and animals free of charge.

◆ Eighth, every morning and evening devote 15 minutes to introspection. In the mornings, 10 minutes should be spent in keeping the mind absolutely still, and five listing the things you have to do that day. In the evenings, five minutes should be set aside to keep the mind still and 10 to go over the tasks you had intended to do.

◆Ninth, don’t lose your temper. Try not to be short-tempered, or vengeful. Even when a friend has been rude, just move on.

◆ Above all, when the time comes to go, one should go like a man without any regret or grievance against anyone.

Iqbal said it beautifully in a couplet in Persian: “You ask me about the signs of a man of faith? When death comes to him, he has a smile on his lips.”

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“A write-up of first year college digged out while cleaning out mails”


She wrote in her best writing strokes on my notepad… “You can be shy in your life, not in your work. You are at best when you are barreling through….”—lines I’d read from Jim Morison’s biography-the legendary DOORS front man and songwriter of the freewheeling 60’s.

She made it leap like thick, rich black words from between the two lined parallels of my notebook. SHE NOTES MY INSPIRATIONS WELL.

I’ve known her for quite a long time now. She reflects my moods, life’s bits and pieces. On my part, I do my best to keep her close to the heart.Yet, my forgetfulness always brings up those dreadful distances.

Leaving her aside, often, when I unwind by listening to my favourite songs, I have often delved to believe that had I not been a Christian I wouldn’t have carried music within me as I do today. – The lively choirs, congregational hymns and the vibrant Sunday school choruses….

Almost obvious to reason with, I feel I’d be shouting my commune’s harvest and victory songs only, had the early missionaries not evangelized my ancestors.

Better still, when I sit down with her to write again, she somehow reminds me that in my upbringing through these hymns in archaic English, I had an upper edge over my non-Christian friends. They weren’t introduced to English literature before me!!!! (You must support her for this!)

Sometime before, I’d picked up abridged biographies of hymn writers. Notably, the blind lady writer Fanny Crosby of the visionary “BLESSED ASSURANCE” and the lost Joseph Scriven’s reassuring  ” WHAT A FRIEND WE HAVE” singspirations. They had written these hymns in such poetic dimensions that I fail to put in mere words, the perfect combination of delicate expressions in powerful lyrics.

Inspired, I also sat down to write a hymn with her. She refused to support me right there and then, trying to convey my lack of their kind of insight and inspiration. I persisted, but she was outright adamant.

In the process, she made me realize that the difference in the mentioned 60’s write and these 17th century greats will remain in the ages, their songs endure and enliven.

In spite of her being boundlessly adamant, I remain indebted to her for helping me erase my hillbilly fears and doubts to be an urbane “Barreling through” writer.

She never fails to compliment my efforts. Her loyalty shows as a result of my inputs to our relationship.

Despite her rich foreign origins, she never frets about sharing the quaint surroundings of my one-room tenement. But if I am dull and lazy, she proves to be doubly inanimate by sleeping or sulking at one posture, unless I hold her back.  The silent old feminine tantrum!!!

I must elaborate on her beautiful features…. Underneath that dark veil lies the proverbial “Gold Crowned” head with fine eye for details. A slender waist that has effortlessly been the same since we became a part of each other’s lives. To top it all, that tall, sculptured body even her peers would envy.”

Lately, I’ve been irked in concern of her excessive drinking habits, when I sit down long hours to write. I am sad to be forced in looking for a new, sensible drinking partner.

Well, to conclude with her story, she was spotted from amongst a dozen others by my dad, who chose to give her to me right after my college.

Before handing the responsibility, my mom dressed her up in matching white chiffon with laces in subtle shades of purple. My parents made her write the accompanying card…  “ Blessings for a fruitful life ahead.”

I accepted her without hesitation. I felt chuffed about her. With those blessings from our parents we marched ahead, hand in hand.

Ever since that first glimpse, she has ever remained my “ MADE FOR EACH OTHER” fountain penwrite fully mine forever.

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