Friends, family, admirers remember Kuldip Nayar

Friends, family, admirers remember Kuldip Nayar

The policemen who knocked on the doors to put him behind the bars during the Emergency had to wait for a few minutes. The man had just gone to have two mangoes as he knew it would take some time to get back home and relish food.

One may know Kuldip Nayar, the veteran journalist who breathed his last on August 23 at the age of 95, as a man with a mighty pen or a peace activist, but his grandchildren on Saturday painted a picture of a doting grandfather when his family, friends and admirers gathered here for a prayer meeting.

It was his younger granddaughter Kanika, who first remembered her "extraordinary grandfather's" love for food.

"He had such a passion for food that when policemen came to arrest him during Emergency, he asked for some time. He just went inside and ate two mangoes. He knew he will not get it for some time," she told the gathering, which included former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and former Delhi High Court Chief Justice A P Shah, among others.

For Kanika, she had "no second thought" when she was asked to write an essay about her role model during her school days. "All my life, I heard many stories about partition from him. He spoke about the state of the country, politics and his dream of India and Pakistan coming together. He was a man who never wavered from his principles," she remembered.

Nayar, whose 'Between the Lines' column appeared in 80 newspapers in 14 languages, was never part of the system but one who took on, for Kartik, another grandson. He had the courage to say what is not being said, Kartik remembers his grandfather whose death he feels will be the "biggest loss" to Indo-Pak relations. "His dream was to have 'chhole' in Amritsar and then walk across to Lahore," he said.

The foodie in Nayar was once again reminded when Kartik spoke about his love for fish and Chinese food.

Mandira, the journalist-granddaughter, recollects that Nayar never told her what to write or how to write. “You could be jobless one day. Don't be afraid,” Nayar, who ruffled many feathers, used to warn her.

B'days & cakes

Nayar, who loved “birthdays and cakes”, was also passionate about dark chocolates with nuts, Mandira lovingly remembered her grandfather, who loved to talk. “He will be waiting for his 'samosa' and thinking how he can bring peace at the border,” she said.

Ratish, a grandson-in-law, found Nayar a “persistent optimist” who was a lover of 'qawwalis'.

Another grand son-in-law Aditya said Nayar had a tremendous impact on a variety of people. “We received calls from truck drivers in Amritsar to business tycoons in Singapore,” he said as he wound up the meeting asking people to join the family for a “cup of tea, samosa and biscuit”, which their grandfather used to relish.

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