02 March, 2021

A Friend And A Gentleman

K. Natwar Singh: imaginative and impeccable; a boss, yet a sport; a grand wit. His autobiography can be his final testimony, a redemptive fling, even a parting shot.

Illustration by Saahil
A Friend And A Gentleman

The most notorious story of Natwar and I is the one made notorious by Swapan Dasgupta writing up a private in-joke in an article on St Stephen’s in India Today years after it happened. I had been invited by the Informal Discussion Group, a venerable Stephanian institution going back at least half a century, to my own days in the college. Unusually, I was taken to the principal’s office, a dreaded spot because undergraduates were only ever summoned there to be rusticated, and confronted with a visitors’ book to sign. The syndrome of my late adolescence having overtaken me in these solemn surroundings that I was entering for the first time ever, I found myself, for once, failing for words. Therefore, in a desperate quest for inspiration, I started turning the pages back and came upon Natwar having signed it with a...

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