Fakir Aijazuddin, author of The Resourceful Fakirs: Three Muslim Brothers at the Sikh Court of Lahore, visited Khushwant Singh on March 4 this year — just two weeks before his death. What happened there has been told in a couple of English articles since then but Aijazuddin shared the original Punjabi conversation today at a lecture in Lahore, which I was lucky enough to attend. I’ll share that with you:

“Tenu pata hai main Pakistani haiga aan?” this wasn’t something Khushwant Singh hadn’t expressed before but it was different that day, a mere foreword to what he really wanted to say.

“Tusi mere toh vadh Pakistani haige ho,” Fakir Aijazuddin courtly replied.

Having just celebrated his 99th birthday a month before, Khushwant Singh held Aijazuddin’s hand, looked right at him, and said: “Mainu maran toh baad Pakistan Hadali vich dafan kareen, jithe main jammya paleya.”

It was a request; he was serious. Maybe he thought the descendant of the three resourceful fakirs of Lahore had the powers even today to make it happen. Aijazuddin wanted to tell him that it was beyond his authority but instead said what we generally say when someone speaks of dying: “Tuhanu meri umar vi lagg jaye.”

“Main 99 varheyan da ho chaleya waan, rab kare toon vi 99 da hoven par hun pata nahi chalna… Mainu Hadali vich dafan karna.”