Sacred Games: A Novel

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Sacred Games vikram chandra

� For

Anuradha Tandon and

S. Hussain Zaidi

Contents Acknowledgements Dramatis Personae

v vii

Policeman’s Day Siege in Kailashpada Ganesh Gaitonde Sells His Gold Going Towards Home Ganesh Gaitonde Acquires Land Investigating Women inset: A House in a Distant City Burying the Dead Ganesh Gaitonde Wins an Election Old Pain inset: The Great Game Money Ganesh Gaitonde is Recruited A Woman in Distress Ganesh Gaitonde is Recruited Again Meeting Beauty Ganesh Gaitonde Explores the Self Investigating Love Ganesh Gaitonde Makes a Film inset: Five Fragments, Scattered in Time Ganesh Gaitonde Remakes Himself The End of the World Ganesh Gaitonde Goes Home Safety inset: Two Deaths, in Cities Far From Home Mere Sahiba

3 28 49 66 102 128 162 195 229 269 291 329 360 388 427 480 530 583 626 671 684 724 761 818 838 891

Selective Glossary


About the Author Other Books by Vikram Chandra Credits Cover Copyright About the Publisher


Some of the travel for this book was funded by a University Facilitating Fund grant from George Washington University. I’m grateful to my erstwhile colleagues at George Washington University for their support and forbearance, especially my friends in the Creative Writing Program: Faye Moskowitz; David McAleavey; Jody Bolz; Jane Shore; Maxine Claire. S. Hussain Zaidi has been extraordinarily generous with his vast knowledge, warm friendship and unstinting support. I am indebted to him. Many others offered me aid, information and hospitality during the writing of this book: Anuradha Tandon; Arup Patnaik, DIG, CBI; API Rajan Gule, CID; Fazal Irani; Akbar Irani; API Sanjay Rangnekar; Violet Monis; Iqbal Khan; Imtiaz Khan; Nisha Jamwal; Rajeev Samant; Rakesh Maria, DIG; Viral Mazumdar; Bandana Tewari; Shernaz Dinshaw; Nonita Kalra; A.D. Singh; Sabina Singh; Rajiv Somani; Aftab Khan; Rasna Behl; Ashutosh Sohni; Shruti Pandit; Kalpana Mhatre; Deepak Jog, DCP; Srila Chatterjee; Sherry Zutshi; Namita Waikar; Shashi Tharoor; Julia Eckert; Jaideep and Seema Mehrotra; Dr Ashok Gupta; Namrata Sharma Zakaria; Dr Amiq Gazdhar; Farzand Ahmed; Menaka Rao; Gyan Prakash. In Delhi, Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir: Harinder Baweja; A.K. Sehgal; Amit Sehgal; Manohar Singh; Agha Shahid Ali; Shafi; Sumit (Surd) Nurpuri; Praveen Swami. In Bihar: Sanjay Jha; Vinod Mishra; Ravinder Jadav; Ashok Kumar Singh, SP, Gaya; N.C. Dhoundial, DIG, Gaya; R.K. Prasad, Dy SP, Gaya; Sunit Kumar, IGP, Patna; Subnath Jha; Bibhuti Nath Jha ‘Mastan’; Gopal Dubey; Surendra Trivedi; Sh. Shaiwal. There are others I cannot name. They know who they are. As always, I’m grateful to my parents, Navin and Kamna, and my sisters, Tanuja and Anupama; my friend and support, Margo True; Eric Simonoff; Julian Loose; David Davidar; Terry Karten; and Vidhu Vinod Chopra. And to Melanie, who changed everything. v

The hymns in the chapter ‘Ganesh Gaitonde Explores the Self’ are from the Rig Vega. I adapted Raimundo Pannikar’s translations (The Vedic Experience, Motilal Banarsidass, 2001).


Dramatis Personae

Sartaj Singh: a Sikh police inspector in Mumbai Katekar: a police constable who works with Sartaj Singh Shalini, Katekar’s wife Mohit and Rohit, their sons Mrs Kamala Pandey: a married woman and airline hostess with a lover, an airline pilot named Umesh Kamble: an ambitious police sub-inspector who works with Sartaj Singh Parulkar: a deputy commissioner of police in Mumbai Ganesh Gaitonde: a notorious Hindu gangster and don, leader of the G-Company in Mumbai Suleiman Isa: a much-feared Muslim gangster and don, leader of a rival gang in Mumbai Paritosh Shah: a supremely gifted money handler for gangsters, including Ganesh Gaitonde Kanta Bai: a businesswoman who deals with Paritosh Shah and Ganesh Gaitonde Badriya: Paritosh Shah’s bodyguard Anjali Mathur: a government intelligence agent investigating Ganesh Gaitonde’s death Chotta Badriya: Ganesh Gaitonde’s bodyguard, and the younger brother of Badriya Juliet (Jojo) Mascarenas: a television producer/agent for aspiring actors and models . . . and a high class Madam Mary Mascarenas: Jojo’s sister who works as a hairdresser Wasim Zafar Ali Ahmad: a social worker in a poor neighborhood in Mumbai who has political aspirations Prabhjot Kaur, ‘Nikki’: Sartaj Singh’s mother, originally from the Punjab Navneet, her beloved oldest sister Ram Pari: the maidservant of Nikki’s mother in the Punjab Bunty: Ganesh Gaitonde’s right hand man and organizer Bipin Bhonsle: a Hindu fundamentalist politician whom Ganesh Gaitonde helps get elected to public office vii

Sharma (aka Trivedi): Bipin Bhonsle’s ally who also works, through intermediaries, for Swami Shridhar Shukla Swami Shridhar Shukla, ‘Guru-ji’: a Hindu guru and nationalist, a spiritual adviser of international renown, who becomes Ganesh Gaitonde’s spiritual mentor Subhadra Devalekar: Ganesh Gaitonde’s wife and mother of his young son K. D. Yadav (aka Mr Kumar): a pioneering Indian intelligence officer who ‘ran’ Ganesh Gaitonde and became a mentor to Anjali Mathur Mr Kulkarni: the intelligence agent who runs Ganesh Gaitonde after K. D. Yadav Major Shahid Khan: a Pakistani intelligence agent who masterminds a counterfeit money operation against India Shambhu Shetty: proprietor of the Delite Dance Bar Iffat-bibi: Suleiman Isa’s maternal aunt who is one of his main controllers in Mumbai Majid Khan: a police inspector in Mumbai, a colleague of Sartaj Singh Zoya Mirza: an actress and a rising star in the Indian film industry Aadil Ansari: an educated but poor man from a small rural town who flees to Mumbai to escape the violent conflicts of his native Bihar Sharmeen Khan: the high-school-age daughter of Major Shahid Khan, who moves to the USA to work in Washington, DC, and brings his family – wife, daughter, and mother – with him Daddi: Shahid Khan’s mother, originally from the Punjab; to her family, she is a Muslim, but she hides a secret


Policeman’s Day

A white Pomeranian named Fluffy flew out of a fifth-floor window in Panna, which was a brand-new building with the painter’s scaffolding still around it. Fluffy screamed in her little lap-dog voice all the way down, like a little white kettle losing steam, bounced off the bonnet of a Cielo, and skidded to a halt near the rank of schoolgirls waiting for the St Mary’s Convent bus. There was remarkably little blood, but the sight of Fluffy’s brains did send the conventeers into hysterics, and meanwhile, above, the man who had swung Fluffy around his head by one leg, who had slung Fluffy into the void, one Mr Mahesh Pandey of Mirage Textiles, that man was leaning on his windowsill and laughing. Mrs Kamala Pandey, who in talking to Fluffy always spoke of herself as ‘Mummy’, now staggered and ran to her kitchen and plucked from the magnetic holder a knife nine inches long and two wide. When Sartaj and Katekar broke open the door to apartment 502, Mrs Pandey was standing in front of the bedroom door, looking intensely at a dense circle of two-inch-long wounds in the wood, about chest-high. As Sartaj watched, she sighed, raised her hand and stabbed the door again. She had to struggle with both hands on the handle to get the knife out. ‘Mrs Pandey,’ Sartaj said. She turned to them, the knife still in a double-handed grip, held high. She had a pale, tear-stained face and tiny bare feet under her white nightie. ‘Mrs Pandey, I am Inspector Sartaj Singh,’ Sartaj said. ‘I’d like you to put down that knife, please.’ He took a step, hands held up and palms forward. ‘Please,’ he said. But Mrs Pandey’s eyes were wide and blank, and except for the quivering of her forearms she was quite still. The hallway they were in was narrow, and Sartaj could feel Katekar behind him, wanting to pass. Sartaj stopped moving. Another step and he would be comfortably within a swing of the knife. ‘Police?’ a voice said from behind the bedroom door. ‘Police?’ Mrs Pandey started, as if remembering something, and then she said, ‘Bastard, bastard,’ and slashed at the door again. She was tired now, and the point bounced off the wood and raked across it, and Sartaj bent her 3

wrist back and took the knife quite easily from her. But she smashed at the door with her hands, breaking her bangles, and her last wiry burst of anger was hard to hold and contain. Finally they sat her down on the green sofa in the drawing room. ‘Shoot him,’ she said. ‘Shoot him.’ Then she put her head in her hands. There were green and blue bruises on her shoulder. Katekar was back at the bedroom door, murmuring. ‘What did you fight about?’ Sartaj said. ‘He wants me not to fly any more.’ ‘What?’ ‘I’m an air-hostess. He thinks . . .’ ‘Yes?’ She had startling light-brown eyes, and she was angry at Sartaj for asking. ‘He thinks since I’m an air hostess, I keep hostessing the pilots on stopovers,’ she said, and turned her face to the window. 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 arou...

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