KS just writes for the ‘aam’ reader. In simple words and few pages, he conveys exactly what he wants to. That’s the power of his pen. He is quite blunt in showing his animosity to certain people like L.K. Advani and veils his inclination towards some like Indira Gandhi. The most hard-hitting piece, and also the longest chapter, is on his boss Krishna Menon who was the Indian High Commissioner in London when KS was posted as an Information Officer with the PR Department of India House. He rejects Menon’s epithet ‘great son of India’, as acclaimed by leftists and says he did “not detect any signs of genius” in the sour-tempered barrister. Among the various provocative tittle-tattles, he quotes one from General Shiv Varma to sum up Menon: He was a bachelor, the same as his father. Giani Zail Singh follows a close second for whom he uses a Hindi couplet to encapsulate his political career: “It was the bruises on my lips that made me comprehend,/With what thoughtlessness I had kissed the rose.”
The book can be described both intimate and irreverent. To sample a blurb from the chapter on Mahatma Gandhi, KS writes: “He took a vow of celibacy in his prime, but without consulting his wife, which I think was grossly unfair. He would sleep naked beside young girls to test his brahmacharya. He could be very odd.”
Or about Indira Gandhi, he says: “She was a very good-looking woman — not the pin-up kind but an indescribable aristocratic type…I have been asked if I ever wanted to get close to her in the physical sense. The answer is no. There was something cold and haughty about her. Not my type at all … But she had her set of admirers ... and never forgave anyone who said anything against her.” For now, know the good, bad and ridiculous people KS has known for almost a century. On a lazy Sunday afternoon, the book can make a good back-to-back breezy read. With KS having announced his retirement following the publication of this book, many of his fans and followers may be eager to read it. But do not curse the author, publisher, reviewer or yourself if you are left wondering what purpose this book serves.