Sacred Games

Free Sacred Games by Vikram Chandra

Book: Sacred Games by Vikram Chandra Read Free Book Online
Authors: Vikram Chandra
I was going to Bombay.’
    The speaker was silent. Sartaj stood up, turned and looked up and down the street. ‘Eh, Gaitonde?’ he said.
    A moment passed, and then the answer came: ‘Yes, Sartaj?’
    â€˜The bulldozer’s here.’
    Indeed it was there, a black leviathan that now appeared at the very end of the street with a throaty clanking that caused a crowd to appear instantly. The machine had a certain dignity, and the driver had a cap on his head, worn with the flair of a specialist.
    â€˜Get those people out of the road,’ Sartaj said to Katekar. ‘And that thing up here. Pointed this way.’
    â€˜I can hear it now,’ Gaitonde said. The video lens moved in its housing restlessly.
    â€˜You’ll see it soon,’ Sartaj said. The policemen near the vans were checking their weapons. ‘Listen, Gaitonde, this is all a farce that I don’t like one bit. We’ve never met, but still we’ve spent the afternoon talking. Let’s be gentlemen. There’s no need for this. Just come out and we can go back to the station.’
    â€˜I can’t do that,’ Gaitonde said.
    â€˜Stop it,’ Sartaj said. ‘Stop acting the filmi villain, you’re better than that. This isn’t some schoolboy game.’
    â€˜It is a game, my friend,’ Gaitonde said. ‘It is only a game, it is leela.’
    Sartaj turned away from the door. He wanted, with an excruciating desire, a cup of tea. ‘All right. What’s your name?’ he said to the driver of the bulldozer, who was leaning against a gargantuan track.
    â€˜Bashir Ali.’
    â€˜You know what to do?’
    Bashir Ali twisted his blue cap in his hands.
    â€˜It’s my responsibility, Bashir Ali. I’m giving you an order as a police inspector, so you don’t have to worry about it. Let’s get that door down.’
    Bashir Ali cleared his throat. ‘But that’s Gaitonde in there, Inspector sahib,’ he said tentatively.
    Sartaj took Bashir Ali by the elbow and walked him to the door.
    â€˜Gaitonde?’
    â€˜Yes, Sardar-ji?’
    â€˜This is Bashir Ali, the driver of the bulldozer. He’s afraid of helping us. He’s frightened of you.’
    â€˜Bashir Ali,’ Gaitonde said. The voice was commanding, like an emperor’s, sure of its consonants and its generosity.
    Bashir Ali was looking at the middle of the door. Sartaj pointed up at the video camera, and Ali blinked up at it. ‘Yes, Gaitonde Bhai?’ he said.
    â€˜Don’t worry. I won’t forgive you –’ Bashir Ali blanched ‘– because there’s nothing to forgive. We are both trapped, you on that side of the door and me on this. Do what they tell you to do, get it over with and go home to your children. Nothing will happen to you. Not now and not later. I give you my word.’ There was a pause. ‘The word of Ganesh Gaitonde.’
    By the time Bashir Ali had climbed up to his seat on top of the bulldozer he had understood, it seemed, his starring role in the situation. He put his cap on his head with a twirl and pointed it backward. The engine grunted and then settled into a steady roar. Sartaj leaned close to the speaker. The left side of his head, from the nape of the neck to the temples, was caught in a sweeping pulse of heat and pain.
    â€˜Gaitonde?’
    â€˜Speak, Sardar-ji, I’m listening.’
    â€˜Just open this door.’
    â€˜You want me to just open this door? I know, Sardar-ji, I know.’
    â€˜Know what?’
    â€˜I know what you want. You want me to just open this door. Then you want to arrest me and take me to the station. You want to be a hero in the newspapers. You want a promotion. Two promotions. Deep down you want even more. You want to be rich. You want to be an all-India hero. You want the President to give you a medal on Republic Day. You want the medal in full colour on television. You want to be

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