By Vikram Chandra
Published by HarperCollins
January 2007; 0061130354; 928 pages
Katekar was walking the husband over now, with a hand on his neck. Mr Pandey hitched up his silky red-and-black striped pyjamas, and smiled confidentially at Sartaj. 'Thank you,' he said. 'Thanks for coming.'
'So you like to hit your wife, Mr Pandey?' Sartaj barked, leaning forward. Katekar sat the man down, hard, while he still had his mouth open. It was nicely done. Katekar was a senior constable, an old subordinate, a colleague really – they had worked together for almost seven years now, off and on. 'You like to hit her, and then you throw a poor puppy out of a window? And then you call us to save you?'
'She said I hit her?'
'I have eyes. I can see.'
'Then look at this,' Mr Pandey said, his jaw twisting. 'Look, look, look at this.' And he pulled up his left pyjama jacket sleeve, revealing a shiny silver watch and four evenly spaced scratches, livid and deep, running from the inside of the wrist around to the elbow. 'More, I've got more,' Mr Pandey said, and bowed low at the waist and lowered his head and twisted to raise his collar away from the skin. Sartaj got up and walked around the coffee table. There was a corrugated red welt on Mr Pandey's shoulder blade, and Sartaj couldn't see how far down it went.
'What's that from?' Sartaj said.
'She broke a Kashmiri walking stick on my back. This thick, it was,' Mr Pandey said, holding up his thumb and forefinger circled.
Sartaj walked to the window. There was a group of uniformed boys clustering around the small white body below, pushing each other closer to it. The St Mary's girls were squealing, holding their hands to their mouths, and begging the boys to stop. In the drawing room, Mrs Pandey was gazing brightly at her husband, her chin tucked into her chest. 'Love,' Sartaj said softly. 'Love is a murdering gaandu. Poor Fluffy.'
'Namaskar, Sartaj Saab,' PSI Kamble called across the station house. 'Parulkar Saab was asking after you.' The room was some twenty-five feet across, with four desks lined up across the breadth of it. There was a six-foot poster of Sai Baba on the wall, and a Ganesha under the glass on Kamble's desk, and Sartaj had felt impelled to add a picture of Guru Gobind Singh on the other wall, in a somewhat twisted assertion of secularism.
Five constables came jerkily to attention, and then subsided into their usual sprawl on white plastic chairs.
'Where is Parulkar Saab?'
'With a pack of reporters. He's giving them tea and telling them about our new initiative against crime.'The foregoing is excerpted from Sacred Games by Vikram Chandra. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced without written permission from HarperCollins Publishers, 10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
Seven years in the making, Sacred Games is an epic of exceptional richness and power. Vikram Chandra's novel draws the reader deep into the life of Inspector Sartaj Singh—and into the criminal underworld of Ganesh Gaitonde, the most wanted gangster in India.
Sartaj, one of the very few Sikhs on the Mumbai police force, is used to being identified by his turban, beard and the sharp cut of his trousers. But "the silky Sikh" is now past forty, his marriage is over and his career prospects are on the slide. When Sartaj gets an anonymous tip-off as to the secret hide-out of the legendary boss of G-Company, he's determined that he'll be the one to collect the prize.(back to top)
Vikram Chandra was born in New Delhi. His first novel, Red Earth and Pouring Rain, won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Book and the David Higham Prize for Fiction. His collection of short stories, Love and Longing in Bombay, won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best Book (Eurasia Region) and was a New York Times Notable Book. Vikram Chandra divides his time between Mumbai and Berkeley, where he teaches at the University of California. His work has been translated into eleven languages.