It's exactly 3 years today that the world lost one of its prolific public intellectuals and one of the minds I admire. Even those who have been at the receiving end of his combatant criticism do not fail to acknowledge his brilliance and the sophistication of his journalism. Feisty and funny, Christopher Hitchens wrote with a refinement that at best seemed to be Mark Twain meets George Orwell meets Hunter S. Thompson meets himself. I can't recall how I got introduced to Hitchens but the years with which I've followed him and queued behind Vanity Fair and scoop everywhere for his articles have been some of the best times I enjoyed good journalism. His insights on issues combined with a brilliant command of the English language made him enjoyable to read. I can't help to imagine his response to the events plaguing the world, after his death. After the international outcry about the abducted Nigerian girls, another Hitchens admirer sent me an SMS with "What will Hitchens say?"
He's controversial in many ways. His support for the Iraq war, for instance, will haunt his legacy but he never saved anyone, no matter how exalted, from his razor-sharp pen. Mother Theresa inspired his witty essay - "The Missionary Position", a title that still amuse me.
Hitchens lived. He was everything I expected from a brilliant journalist. I don't quite consider him a journalist. Public Intellectual or Commentator fits him better. He had strong thoughts about everything from the mundane to the serious. He had powerful friends, literary friends, and had debates at choice venues with choice co-debaters. (I like his debate with Tony Blair and the one with Nigerian Archbishop John Onaiyekan. It hurts me that Onaiyekan didn't come out with as much energy as I had expected. Still one of my favourite intellectual debates though. But I wished, wished and wished Hitchens squared with Mehdi Hasan. Their command of the British tongue and brains would have made for real news).
His controversial book - "God is not Great" is a fine polemic and has been one of my Christmas giveaways. I don't agree with everything in it but his daring mind was at a full swing. I like the reactions from the friends that I give the book. And they always enjoy it. I remember bothering the heck out of a friend when he traveled to the UK. I had planned some evil for him if he hadn't helped me buy Arguably:Essays by Christopher Hitchens. It's one big book that wakes my tantrums just when anyone asks to borrow it. Don't even joke about it.
I remember Hitch today: his independent mind, writings, debates, social connections, cultural commentaries, literary reviews, friendship with Rushdie, Amis, and all the things that made him cool and interesting. (But I detest his rivalry with his brother though).
Hitch, keep resting in The Lord. (Yes, I said it)