Friends, family and admirers gathered at the Lodhi crematorium in South Delhi on Thursday afternoon to pay their last respects to Khushwant Singh.
Singh died “very peacefully” at 99, said his son Rahul Singh. “Of late, he wouldn’t talk much, but would like to discuss the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. He had his single malt on Wednesday night. On Thursday morning he got up as usual and was doing his crossword when he decided to lie down and never woke up. He died the way he would have wanted to,” said Rahul, adding that earlier this week Singh suffered slight breathing trouble. The noted author had expressed his wish to donate his eyes but “it wasn’t possible, there was no time to do so,” said his son.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, veteran journalists Kuldip Nayar, Arun Shourie and M J Akbar, author Vikram Seth and his mother Justice Leila Seth, former Indian cricket team captain Bishan Singh Bedi, Union ministers Salman Khurshid, Kapil Sibal and Farooq Abdullah, BJP leader L K Advani, politician Jaya Jaitly, former minister M S Gill, former attorney general Soli Sorabjee and actor Vinod Khanna were among the crowd of Singh’s admirers at the crematorium.
“What does one say about an institution. There was a very special thing about him that was a part of the ethos of modern India — his wisdom, experience, analytical ability, fantastic generosity and his feel for the past. He was the past, he was the present, and all that he wrote was also the future,” said Khurshid.
“He was a very sophisticated person and always spoke from the heart. He was very loving and totally fearless. I started writing poetry because of him,” said Sibal.
At Tri Nagar, Smriti Irani centered her speech around Modi, with over 10 references in 11-minute extempore.