Under Meet the Author programme, Khushwant Singh, the renowned writer, was face to face with the students and faculty of Guru Nanak Dev University on Friday. Singh talked about his journey as a creative artist and dwelt at length on his latest novel The Opium Toffee which unfolds a story of the troubled times of 1980s in Punjab.
According to Singh, while there are many non-fictional works about the period, not many fictional representations have come out and it is only the fictional form which has the therapeutic force for the various traumas people might be carrying about in regard to certain situations.
Apart from being a story about drug addiction and illegal human trafficking, the novel talks about people, especially those in their early youth, trapped between the two contending forces—militants and the security agencies.
The main character finds his way back through the love of his life and the story also probes the atmosphere of toxic patriarchy in certain orthodox quarters which came in the way of young women struggling to fulfil their ambitions.
Singh's earlier novel Maharaja in Denims, employing the device of past life regression, is also the story of young people in Punjab trying to survive that difficult phase of the State. He went on to talk about the research which went into the making of his fiction as well as non-fictional works like the biographies of Captain Amarinder Singh and Baba Fauja Singh.
He narrated some interesting anecdotes about confusions arising out of his sharing his name with Khushwant Singh the senior. Earlier, Dr. Hardeep Singh, Officer on Special Duty to the Vice-Chancellor, welcomed and felicitated the author.
Dr. Anish Dua, Dean Students Welfare, presided over the function while S. Gunbir Singh, author and environmentalist, shared his insights about Khushwant Singh’s work. Dr. Yubee Gill, Head, Department of English, moderated the session.