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Vignettes of a gossip-loving Sardarji: A publisher recalls

Posted on Mar 20 2014 | IANS

By K.P.R. Nair : It was 1987. I had called called Khushwant Singh to ask if he would like to do a compilation of his pieces from his column in the Hindustan Times or if he would like

someone else to compile and edit it. He didn't say yes or no, just barked on the phone:

"What will be the title of the book?"

I answered with a timid "Malicious Gossip".

"Who will edit and compile it?"

"Maybe we can talk to Rohini Singh?" I was slowing getting bolder.

"Who will launch the book?"

"Sardarji on Sardarji" was my cheeky reply. His laugh was like a lion's roar - and we were set. The agreement was signed in 1987 and, on a sultry summer day that year, Zail Singh, the then president of India, launched the book at Rashtrapati Bhavan. In attendance were Khushwant Singh, the man himself, and Rohini Singh, editor and compiler, and a select audience.

What made the ceremony special was that it was the last function presided over by Zail Singh in his capacity as president. The book went on to become a huge success and we subsequently published a revised edition, "More Malicious Gossip"in 1991.

From that day in 1987, a friendship started between Mr. Singh and me. I would send him books or the customary sweets on Diwali and he would always, without fail, send a handwritten note of thanks. Letters, that have been preserved and now will be treasured. A simple and humble man, he has always helped whenever he could. He read and commented on our books and we have been enriched by his knowledge and expertise.

It is with a deep and profound sense of loss, we bid him adieu on his next adventure. A man who lived this life to the fullest would undoubtedly create a stir
in the next world too. Khushwant Singh, we will miss your warmth, intelligence, humour and wit.

(K.P.R. Nair is publisher of Konark iPublishers. He can be contacted at

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