Khushwant Singh has to be envied. He died at 99 while still churning out a couple of books every year. A year after his death we still get to read his writings – as much full of charm and wit. Is that not how we would like to lead the world – still working, & still being relevant to the world. His book Me The Jokerman is a collection of published and unpublished small pieces by Khushwant Singh. They are all around his favorite topics – he himself, Godmen & women, birds & animals around him, sex and of course jokes.
In personal history, I loved his story on getting healthy. I am sure we all know what he tells us, but it is the way he brings it out makes it so impactful. After reading that story, next two days I was watching what I ate. I ate a little less for sure. Maybe I should read it every now and then. His chronicles of 1984 come from his diary – they bring the year alive. He was a Sikh, no matter what his claims to atheism all his life. He was impacted by the attack on his community as one should. His piece on being lonely at an advanced age when no one of your ages around anymore makes you want to die while you are still surrounded by people who matter. His take on women and drinking are amusing to read. What I will remember most though is this
Good life – The only religion
In God & his Messengers, Khushwant Singh talks about the various God men and women he met. The story on Sharada Mata is very interesting – I did not know there was a controversy with her and Nehru. In fact, I did not know about her at all, so it was fascinating to read about her journey from being a princess to a sannyasin. Khushwant Singh’s encounter with another young seeker in Varanasi reads like a thriller and leaves you wanting for more. His curiosity to visit those who perform miracles is infectious. You wait for him to crack the code and tell you how the miracle was performed. The fact that none of these make him change his mind on atheism is interesting.
The fact that none of these make him change his mind on atheism is interesting. However, his tone is very different when he talks about the godmen of his own religion. He is far more respectful to them. Hope we understand that all of us behave the same way with our and others’ religions. In this section, my favorite quote was where he classifies world religions into two sets –
Hindu set of religions with Buddhism, Jainism & Sikhism, and the Judaism set with Christianity and Islam.
I also liked his quote on how the religious leaders are judged
In the end, Guru Nanak will be judged not by what he did and said but by what his followers today do, say, and the way they behave towards other people.
In the nature section, I liked his transformation from being a hunter to a savior of birds and animals. Stories are heartwarming, especially the one where a pair of bulbuls starts trusting him.
The Sex and Jokes section are as expected.
Overall, Me The Jokerman by Khushwant Singh is a very interesting quick read.