Lahore: A fistful of ashes of legendary Indian journalist and author Khushwant Singh have been brought to his birthplace in Pakistan’s Punjab province to fulfil his desire to be “reunited with his roots”.
“The son returned to his soil after 99 years,” said Muhammad Hayat, ex-head master of the Government Boys High School Hadali, where Singh studied, reported PTI.
Hadali, some 280 kilometres from Lahore, is a town of Khushab district in Punjab province and was the birthplace of Singh, who died on March 20 in New Delhi.
His ashes were mixed with cement to fix a marble plaque under a Shisham tree where he played as a child.
Pakistani writer and columnist Fakir Syed Aijazuddin had brought Singh’s ashes from India to fulfil his desire to be “reunited with his roots”.
The plaque reads: “A Sikh, a scholar and a son of Hadali Punjab. This is where my roots are. I have nourished them with tears of nostalgia.”
After fixing the plaque, Aijazuddin read before the teachers, students of the school and locals the morning and evening prayers of the Sikhs.
Among the crowd were the headmaster and teachers who had met Singh on his last visit to Hadali in 1987.
“We were very much excited after learning that a fistful of ashes were being brought back to his birthplace. The people are proud of Singh,” the headmaster said.
“Singh’s readership knows no boundaries. He has as many admirers in Pakistan as he does in India. Perhaps this was another reason for his deep attachment to Pakistan and his origin.
“I when I last met with Khushwant Sahib in New Delhi on March 4 he expressed a longing to be buried in Hadali. His family agreed to make available some of the ashes which I brought to Pakistan,” Aijazuddin said.
Singh’s house is Hadali does not exist anymore. All one can find there are wild bushes and the plot belongs to someone else.
Born in 1915 in Hadali, Singh was witness to all major events in modern Indian history - from independence and partition to the Emergency and Operation Blue Star - and had known many of the figures who have shaped it.