Obituaries I like (!)

You may think I am a queer sort of a guy if I confess I read the obituary column first whenever I lay my hands on a copy of “The Economist“. Here you will find some of the best of the genre. You may not have even heard about the dead but it is interesting to know how the character is made alive in just a page length. These obituaries are nicely drafted and well-researched. When Boris Yeltsin died, the column wrote :
“…Though Mr Yeltsin was a Communist Party boss, he never turned into Homo sovieticus; he preserved the qualities and sensibilities of a Russian man. As Alexander Solzhenitsyn put it, he was almost too Russian. He was spontaneous, erratic, frequently drunk, talented, sincere, witty, full-hearted. His hugeness as a character matched the scale of the changes in his country…”
You may like to read the full text here.
See what the column says about Benzir Bhutto:
“… In one debate, an opponent described her father as “a tradesman of some description. A butcher, I gather.” Benazir looked as if she had been slapped in the face. Her father earned this sobriquet from the slaughter in East Pakistan as Bangladesh struggled to be born….
…After her assassination, a handwritten will was produced. Foreseeing her own untimely end, it bequeathed her party, like the dynastic heirloom it has become, to her husband, who said he would pass leadership to their 19-year-old son. For a woman who claimed to be driven by a burning desire to bring democracy to Pakistan, it was a curious legacy…”
You may like to read the full text here.
The New York Times is yet another publication where you get to read good obituaries. When Narsimha Rao died, Amy Waldman wrote…”Not known for his charisma, and loath to give interviews, Mr. Rao was a wily, even ruthless politician capable of outfoxing rivals in a faction-riddled party…” and you may like to read the full text here.
Acharya (P K) Atre was known to write well-remembered obituaries. I also recollect some leaders from “Kesari” Selections penned by none other than Lokamnya Tilak in the honour of the well-known of his times. For somebody who died young after a remarkable contribution, he would write मुहूर्तं ज्वलितं श्रेयो नश्चिरं धूमायते
In recent times of course, the name of remarkable obituary writer which easily comes to mind is that of ‘Khushwant Singh.’ and I have a copy of his ‘Death at my my doorstep’


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