His wife makes R.K. Laxman sketch something as a daily practice

“Every day, I make him sketch something as daily practice, and he is improving a lot,” she said like a proud mother, praising her son at his birthday party. But this is R.K. Laxman's wife, Kamala Laxman, speaking at his 90th birthday celebrations at their home here.

Mr. Laxman, India's most loved cartoonist and creator of the Common Man, turned 90 on Monday. Surrounded by his close family, the man, who gave the country more than four decades of laughs and chuckles, had a tearful moment while cutting his cake.

“He usually likes to have a quiet birthday, but this time he agreed for a big celebration on my persuasion,” Mrs. Laxman said. More than 100 people gathered in the afternoon to wish him: friends, family members and artists.

The gathering was ripe with anecdotes, which reflected Mr. Laxman's love for life and sharp observations. His daughter-in-law Usha Laxman spoke of his wish to make her draw, which he later realised was not fruitful. “However, he is happy that his grand-daughter is an artist like him.”

Among the people present to meet Mr. Laxman were senior lawyer Ram Jethmalani and Symbiosis International University founder S.B. Mujumdar. Several cartoonists from the city presented him with their caricatures.

In 2010, Mr. Laxman suffered a stroke, which severely affected his speech, and limited the movement of his hands. While he is recovering, Mrs. Laxman makes sure that he does what he loves most: listening to music and going on long drives. Sketching is not left far behind: it is because of his passion and Mrs. Laxman's persistent efforts that Mr. Laxman continues to sketch even today.

The Hindu had the opportunity to peek into the maestro's latest sketchbook, and the common man still rules his world. A sketch drawn on October 3 shows the iconic Common Man upset with Lord Ganesha and turning away from him, an indication perhaps of the tough times that the common man has to endure and a complaint to the Lord of Success for not doing enough. “His observations are still as sharp as ever. I make sure he reads the newspaper and listens to news,” Mrs. Laxman said.

“He does not do any political sketch anymore, but I am sure he would have loved to comment on the anti-corruption movement,” Mrs. Laxman had told this correspondent in an earlier interview.

Many websites, including Wikipedia, however, mention Mr. Laxman's birth date as October 23, 1924. Asked why there was a confusion over the dates, Mrs. Kamala Laxman said: “The websites have it wrong. I know he was born on October 24, 1921. He turns 90 today.” She stated that all these years, wrong information was being circulated. Ms. Usha Laxman also confirmed his birth year as 1921.