NOBODY LIGHTS A CANDLE - Novels
by Anjali Deshpande
English Moral Stories
It was morning again. The loud trumpeting of the bus hurtling past his house broadcast the news and the noisy clanking of iron poles dropping one on another onto the back of a tempo confirmed it. He guessed that ...Read Moretent supplier’s family across the narrow lane was about to bring home another thick wad of currency notes. Just how much money people have begun to make, he thought, still lying abed, to splurge on parties, engagements, weddings, naming a newborn, birthdays and anniversaries. It no longer mattered whether the gods slept or were up and about; tents kept springing up on roads and in parks.
NOBODY LIGHTS A CANDLE Anjali Deshpande 1 It was morning again. The loud trumpeting of the bus hurtling past his house broadcast the news and the noisy clanking of iron poles dropping one on another onto the back of ...Read Moretempo confirmed it. He guessed that the tent supplier’s family across the narrow lane was about to bring home another thick wad of currency notes. Just how much money people have begun to make, he thought, still lying abed, to splurge on parties, engagements, weddings, naming a newborn, birthdays and anniversaries. It no longer mattered whether the gods slept or
NOBODY LIGHTS A CANDLE Anjali Deshpande 2 He checked his wallet. Only a hundred rupees and some change. He would need petrol. Gone were the days when he could stock up his bike without much thought to the price ...Read Morefuel. Now he rarely got his tank filled. Two litres or three. That was enough. Even the motorcycle sits on the pavement, idle like him. He raced through the crowded lanes, dodging rickshaws, grazing one gleaming white car in a crowded lane and hurling back abuses at the nattily dressed owner at the wheel. He felt good. Had been a
NOBODY LIGHTS A CANDLE Anjali Deshpande 3 Nitesh had once told him that handling such small ego problems is of prime significance in rural areas. He heard the ASI tell the villager in the dirty white dhoti, “Tauji, you ...Read Moredon’t you, you know everything. I am only doing my duty. You will have to bring these boys to the thana to record the statement”. “We will take a call on that. The boys have already told you what they had to. We don’t want thana kachahari,” said another sulky faced old man in a pajama. “What have we done?
NOBODY LIGHTS A CANDLE Anjali Deshpande 4 He saw no one as he passed the farmhouse, slowing down automatically. Then he caught a glimpse of a woman sitting alone against the wall of the farmhouse. He drove past but ...Read Morepulled him back. He could not say what it was, a restless energy, a lurking response of a cop to a crime, a regret for not having beaten back the unnecessary aggression of those young raw men, uncouth in their pajamas, simmering discontent at not having taken up the challenge those anarchic villagers had thrown at him. He slowed down,
NOBODY LIGHTS A CANDLE Anjali Deshpande 5 In Adhirath’s view the assurance he had given Ramwati was like the ritual consolations offered the bereaved the intention of keeping which is as weak as the expectation of its being kept. ...Read Morehad not been able to talk to Nitesh either. However, the next day his restlessness began to grow so he left the house again heading straight to the nearest English Wine and Beer shop. Peeling away from the crowd outside the booze shop he tucked in the half bottle, the addha under his shirt. As he strode back to the
NOBODY LIGHTS A CANDLE Anjali Deshpande 6 “I want the report,” said Adhirath. “Report will come only after a week. Only after all these mother fucking white coats have done everything they can to put off work. Only the ...Read Moreof us work. Look we cut up bodies and everyone hates us. We are untouchables. They also don’t touch us, mother fuckers. Chattering away in English all the time. You know there is not a single student here that is from my caste? Not one. All these bloody Bahmans and Banias come here to the morgue to cut up dead
NOBODY LIGHTS A CANDLE Anjali Deshpande 7 At last Adhirath got to meet his friend in the thana. The conversation had to begin with the talk about the enquiry against him. Nowadays Adhir has to prepare like a martyr ...Read Moreto be marched to the gallows to face questions. However, it was different with Nitesh. He got snippets of news and about teh goings-on in the department. “No idea when it will be done, no clue,” said Nitesh. “Yaar, it would be good if it were finished early. If they want to dismiss me let them do it. Staying at
NOBODY LIGHTS A CANDLE Anjali Deshpande 8 When the jeep arrived at J J Bindal’s Preet Vihar House, nobody asked the Inspector who was with him. Adhirath had never understood why the dome that looked so grand in Humayun’s ...Read Morebegan to look like an onion the moment its size went down. The onion was the tallest thing in this building. There were two bow shaped terraces on its two sides which were obviously the roofing of the rest of the house. This is what he was contemplating while sitting under the onion that the crorepati had installed on his
NOBODY LIGHTS A CANDLE Anjali Deshpande 9 They were about to leave when a white car entered the gate. They stopped in the verandah and looked at the servant who was escorting them out of the small sitting room ...Read Moretold them that she was the bahuji who had got her son from school. A young boy got off the back seat of the car and without picking up his school bag ran towards the side of the house. Probably there was another entry door there. The servant rushed to the car and picked up the school bag and whispered
NOBODY LIGHTS A CANDLE Anjali Deshpande 10 Udairaj seemed to have dressed with great care. The narrow collar of his shirt had been ironed so carefully that there was not even the hint of a crease in it. Ditto ...Read Morethe button strip. Adhirath had seen many dressed in expensive shirts but the shirt this guy wore was in an entirely different category. The weave of the fabric, the testimony of every thread that a hot iron had pressed it down, told of a shirt not available in shops ordinary mortals went to. Its colour was so pale a yellow
NOBODY LIGHTS A CANDLE Anjali Deshpande 11 It wasn’t jhilak milak or sparkling, that Jhilmil colony. Narrow lanes, overflowing sewage drains. Large potholes competed with open manholes as risk factors. Just a few metres from main roads the city ...Read Moreenclaves like neglected small towns thought Adhirath. Most of the populace lives in such areas where the rains bring cholera, where the organisms that cause epidemics find nutrition and keep learning and experimenting with the principles of live and let live. This is the only example of tolerance, the principle of live and let live is just a useless saying
NOBODY LIGHTS A CANDLE Anjali Deshpande 12 Chandola was on the way to Amirpur. Had he come to get the radish he could not pull out that day or to run away from the horns of motorcars and to ...Read Morehis subconscious desire to soak up the silence of this place? When Adhir reached close to Chandola his mobike almost involuntarily became indolent. That day he had not paid attention but today he saw a small room standing a little away from the road with a plastic chair in it. On its wall was scrawled ‘proparty agent’ in white. A
NOBODY LIGHTS A CANDLE Anjali Deshpande 13 As they turned to get out of the place Adhir could not resist looking in at the window of the house. Vasantmalti (honeysuckle) laughed on the walls. Another bushy climber that seemed ...Read Morehave climbed from the back was gently swaying its saffron flowers in the breeze. He could not identify the creeper. There was a crack in the window pane, it was dusty. Yet he could see clearly inside. Looked like a bedroom, with a four poster bed with a dark blue sheet spread on it. At its foot near the wall
NOBODY LIGHTS A CANDLE Anjali Deshpande 14 It was not tough to find the Kiliopetra parlour. The only thing that was tough was to not get noticed by the policemen in the thana. The parlour was too close to ...Read Morepolice station, almost opposite it. He parked the bike well past the thana, across the road, ran a hand in his hair to rumple it properly, fished out a cap from the box on his bike and fixed it on his head at an angle that covered most of his forehead and only then retraced his steps in the direction
NOBODY LIGHTS A CANDLE Anjali Deshpande 15 It was late by the time he got home. Buses were queued up on the roads and two wheelers wove their way from between them like squirrels leaping at great speed. Everyone ...Read Morepressing on the horn to let the others know of their existence, screaming in top decibels, look at us, nobody cares two hoots about us at home or in offices, but we exist, strangers, look, we exist, and we are strong and we shall move ahead of you, look at us and get out of our way and salute the
NOBODY LIGHTS A CANDLE Anjali Deshpande 16 Sunday. A day to laze around. For others. He was tired of lazing around even then he woke up very late. Even Varun was up who never stirred out of bed before ...Read Moreon holidays, and was probably downstairs. He knew because his place beside him was empty. He saw a pile of washing lying on the floor, heard the grumbling of the washing machine competing with the noise from the road. Pushpa was doing her Sunday chores her face sullen. She came in to sort out the washing to load the machine.
NOBODY LIGHTS A CANDLE Anjali Deshpande 17 As he walked from the bus stop he could clearly see the house with the dome. No need for an address, the name of a street or the number of the house. ...Read Moresaroj madam, the police is here,” he said to the guard sitting inside the open gate. The man stared at him suspiciously. “Will you go or should I give you one?” he barked in a voice that left no doubt about his training as a cop. Without an uniform a man has no status, he thought. Had clothes been made
NOBODY LIGHTS A CANDLE Anjali Deshpande 18 When Varun got home licking an ice cream his grandmother was slamming the fridge door. “Just look, from when is that dahi sitting here? It is covered with moss. This is how ...Read Morethrows money. Wastes everything. Why should she set so much yogurt? I don’t even touch yogurt…” Adhirath raised his eyebrows at Varun. “Why, my darling son, will you eat some dahi?” Both laughed uproariously. His dad came in holding on to his lungi with one hand and half a dozen bananas in the other. “He gave it. Did I not
NOBODY LIGHTS A CANDLE Anjali Deshpande 19 “Yaar, that slip of paper has arrived, of the enquiry,” he told Nitesh. He had been sitting here for half an hour but Nitesh was busy preparing his reports. Each item had ...Read Morebe given a number, then noted in registers, there were dozens of such papers to prepare in a murder case. “It has! Well, it had to come. How long would they put it off. Take my advice, simply deny everything.” “They are very clever people. It is not easy to make fools of them.” “Who is doing it?” “That Kashyap.
NOBODY LIGHTS A CANDLE Anjali Deshpande 20 He placed two bottles of beer in front of Bharat. He had bought them form the liquor vend in the village. Chilled beer. The shop had both country made liquor and that ...Read Morebreed Indian made foreign liquor. For the first time he had inspected the little market closely. Even in such a small place there were two shops selling meat! Four sold laddoos. One ‘doodh, dahi, caream, desi ghee and makhan’ shop. Then there were shops selling agricultural implements, light bulbs and plastic ware. There was also a ‘Shonu hair ishtylist’ and
NOBODY LIGHTS A CANDLE Anjali Deshpande 21 By the time Adhirath made Chetilal go with him on his bike to Nachahtar’s farm it was dark. Lights began to wake up here and there. For a while birdcall reached such ...Read Morecrescendo it began to seem like a racket and then all was quiet. He heard the sound of hooves. “Neelgai,” said Chetilal. He could not see the animal but it felt like a walk in the forest. He thought he could ask Cheti to lend him his cot. Nachchatar lived on a farm with several rooms in a row that
NOBODY LIGHTS A CANDLE Anjali Deshpande 22 He was so restive, he found it tough to wait till the evening. Adhirath went out to first fetch his son from school on his motorcycle. Varun was thrilled to see him. ...Read Morestopping every step of the way, calling out to his mates by name to say bye bye to them. Adhirath’s was moved to tears. “Have you now shown everyone that you are riding back on a bike?” he said lifting the child on to the pillion. “Will you have almond milk?” He drove to a nearby milk and paneer booth
NOBODY LIGHTS A CANDLE Anjali Deshpande 23 “Are, Nachchatar, how are you making do here? Happy?” asked Bharat. “There you had so much fun.” “What to do sahib, one has to make do,” said Nachchatar. “His employer is going ...Read Morebuy. Nachchatar knows everything. Tell him what grows well there.” “Yes,” said Nachchatar. “That is what he said. He came here yesterday.” “Madam did not ask you to come work for her again?” “No. I have heard that she hasn’t been to the farm in a year or so.” Listening to them talk Adhirath was stunned to know that these
NOBODY LIGHTS A CANDLE Anjali Deshpande 24 Nitesh had told Dalchand that they would meet him in the court and he had picked up Adhir from near his house on the way. Actually Adhirath’s house was not on the ...Read Moreto the court, from Lakshmi Nagar he had to turn towards Mother Dairy and had to go to Mandavali and he had to retrace the path in his jeep to go to Karkardooma court even though Adhirath kept saying that there was another way through Patparganj.Adhirath was sure that if Nitesh had not asked Dalchand he would definitely not have
NOBODY LIGHTS A CANDLE Anjali Deshpande 25 Why are there homes, Pushpa often asked herself. Now she was convinced that a home was designed as a highly sophisticated weapon to kill humans. If a home had been invented as ...Read Moresource of tranquility and rest that concept and that home had been buried a long time ago, so long a time ago that even its fossil would not be available to thought-archaeologists. Ever since Adhirath had been suspended the home had become a greater burden. She had no complaints against her in-laws. They were what they were but Adhirath had
NOBODY LIGHTS A CANDLE Anjali Deshpande 26 Both friends thought it strange that the grand building of the High Court would have such small rooms. Obviously only tiny rooms had been included in the design of the new building. ...Read Moresat lawyers who carried lacs of rupees home every day and why they had been packed like poultry in small enclosures was beyond their comprehension. They sat in the three by two, total of six square feet of the outer room on something the civilized call a settee with their legs drawn in to avoid hitting the other wall with
NOBODY LIGHTS A CANDLE Anjali Deshpande 27 Udairaj was sitting in a back room drinking his tea and watching TV. Some English movie was on. His face went red with anger the moment he saw them. “I wanted to ...Read Moreyou something,” said Adhirath. “That girl, where did you meet her?” “IU don’t remember,” said Udairaj standing up. “How many times do I have to answer your questions? Why don’t you record them?” “Sit down, sir. We have many questions to ask you,” said Nitesh. “Why?” “It is a murder case.” “So? You are treating me like a suspect? Me?”
NOBODY LIGHTS A CANDLE Anjali Deshpande 28 By the time Pushpa made the morning tea he had got up. Having dressed Varun for school she said, “Come back immediately after dropping him. Need to talk.” Pushpa rarely spoke in ...Read Moreroom downstairs unless there were guests. Her pots and pans spoke and they said a lot of things. The tawa getting off the stove, the pressure cooker letting off steam, spoons stirring inside pots, water being poured into jugs, every utensil spoke of the mood of bahuji. Today the kitchen implements were silent. Pushpa’s words too were formal, official. Brief.
NOBODY LIGHTS A CANDLE Anjali Deshpande 29 “What happened to your case?” asked Adhir. “Got to know for sure who killed her?” Nitesh was glad to get the opportunity to change the subject. “How can all the evidence be ...Read Morein such a short time? You have to handle other things too in a thana, you know. I am sure that driver did it.” “Caught him or not? Is he still absconding?” Nitesh laughed. “Why do criminals do this? Why do they run away? If they had any sense they would not.” “You may have evidence. He will be caught.”
NOBODY LIGHTS A CANDLE Anjali Deshpande 30 Sathiya! The whole area trembled in his presence. Nobody knew where he had come from. Some said he came from Amroha some said he was from Bihar. It was difficult to say ...Read Morehe had arrived from. Not just in Mandawali, he was a feared man in neighbouring areas too. He bragged openly that, “Nobody can touch me, I haev killed sixty people, that is why I am Sathiya.” Sathiya, from Sath, for sixty in Hindi. He operated a cable network and whether you got the reception or not you had to pay
NOBODY LIGHTS A CANDLE Anjali Deshpande 31 Early in the morning Bharat had called. Today it is difficult to go so far. He has to meet Grover too in the afternoon. The money has been arranged. The full amount ...Read More25 thousand. Bapu has given him ten thousand rupees. Who know why he had saved up so much money. Pushpa got 15 grand. Her bank too must be empty. He had borrowed unnecessarily from Nitesh. But Pushpa is right, who knows, she said, there could be other expenses. Best to have some money in the pocket. Bharat told him that
NOBODY LIGHTS A CANDLE Anjali Deshpande 32 Grover took the bundle of notes from him and counted them carefully. He did not like taking cases of such low level employees. They even got money stuffed carelessly in their pocket ...Read Morepulled them out like a handkerchief. They would get twenty five grand but would not spare twenty five paise for an envelope to put the bills in. After he had finished counting the notes Adhirath pushed a slim file towards him. It had the order for his suspension, the notice for enquiry, the photocopy of three sheets of the daily
NOBODY LIGHTS A CANDLE Anjali Deshpande 33 It was past 12.30 and he ran into Bharat in the bazaar. At the booze shop. “It won’t be good for me to go there,” said Bharat pocketing the half bottle of ...Read More“Beer is too expensive and has no kick in it either.” “Has he come?” “Looks like he has. The car is not here, though. Cheti had come again in the evening yesterday. Says he will quit the job. He did not sleep there at night. Went to Nachahtar’s. I just saw Parduman, inside the gate. About an hour ago.” “he
NOBODY LIGHTS A CANDLE Anjali Deshpande 34 He told Adhirath that he used to lie down on Cheti’s cot in the back and Udairaj would enjoy the company of the woman in his bedroom. He had no objections to ...Read Moresleeping with her, after all she was not his wife or lover. He had a good job. The money was good. He got the fanciest of cars to drive, he was truly fond of driving and the cars mattered to him. Girls he could find plenty but such an easy job would be hard to land. Udairaj did not come
NOBODY LIGHTS A CANDLE Anjali Deshpande 35 “And you say Udairaj came here? When?” “They had just got out of the gate when he arrived. I was going in and the bitch came out. She was screaming loudly. That ...Read Morewhen Udairaj came. He caught hold of her pupate and pulled her. I ran away.” “Which car did you go back in? In the one you had parked near the chaukhamba or the one that Udairaj had come in?” “He did not come in a car. I had gone to shut the gate and he was standing there. He said
NOBODY LIGHTS A CANDLE Anjali Deshpande 36 Parduman told him he had unlocked the house and opened the back door, then he came to the front and locked it from outside returning inside from the back door and bolting ...Read MoreHe had got some bread and munchies with him. At night when Cheti would run away he would go out and get himself vegetables. When Cheti spent nights away from the place he lit candles and quickly cooked himself something. There were some rice and lentils in the kitchen. Once he had had enough time to kill himself a rabbit
NOBODY LIGHTS A CANDLE Anjali Deshpande 37 “I would say something if anyone paid heed. In so many years he never took my opinion seriously, not even once. Now that it is the question of our son’s life, at ...Read Morenow he should have remembered what I had said. When the man called he should have at least asked,” Shakuntala said as she chopped cauliflower on the cot across the kitchen counter. Daulatram could not control himself any more. He came in and screamed, “You have a lot of sense, don’t you? I did say, but that man is not
NOBODY LIGHTS A CANDLE Anjali Deshpande 38 Must have been a coincidence that at the red light he spotted Saroj. He lifted his hands in a Namaste form a distance. She threw him a wide smile, even her eyes ...Read Moreand twisting her upturned palm made a gesture asking him where he was headed. Why not go sit under the dome? He followed her car on his bike. When she got down he saw that she was wearing trousers today, white trousers with a white top with fine chikan embroidery. She had the same kangans on her wrists. But today
NOBODY LIGHTS A CANDLE Anjali Deshpande 39 After a brief silence he continued. “She,” Udairaj pointed a finger at Saroj and said, “had really spoilt him. She got him as part of her dowry. Earlier he used to work ...Read Moreher aunt, her mother’s sister. His father was their domestic help. When this fellow got trained as a driver they hung him round our neck like a necklace given in dowry. He is good as a driver. But she depended a lot on him. Could not do without him. Has to go to the parlour, Parduman must take her. have
NOBODY LIGHTS A CANDLE Anjali Deshpande 40 “I saw my car on the way, under those trees. I saw it only because a train passed by and picket it up in its headlights. I don’t know whether villagers go ...Read Moresleep early or just shut themselves inside their houses soon. It could also have been because of Holi. All was eerily quiet. There are so many trees there. No dearth of any shadow. I kept to the shadows. I had just reached the gate when what do I see, but two men getting out, in dhotis. Must have been villagers.
NOBODY LIGHTS A CANDLE Anjali Deshpande 41 The aroma of spices floated out of the screen door. There was a time when the house used to redolent with such smells. The moment he smelt these spices he used to ...Read Morethat there will be a party tonight because some relatives of bapu’s colleagues from the office have arrived for dinner. A bottle of good whisky will be opened. There will be meat in rich curry with potatoes and hot phulkas will be served to go with it. The memory of those days hit him now. He knew there would be
NOBODY LIGHTS A CANDLE Anjali Deshpande 42 His steps began to falter even when he was outside the building. It was not as if he had not been here. They all had to visit this place off and on. ...Read Morehe used to be in uniform. People used to smile at him, they would look at each other with smiling eyes, they would greet each other, would climb the stairs with confidence. It was the same building. The same metal detector. The very same officers. Today he was not in uniform. Today his steps hesitated. The whole perspective had changed.
NOBODY LIGHTS A CANDLE Anjali Deshpande 43 The DCP was watching him closely. His eyes, the eyes of the enquiry committee. His pupils narrowed a little. He saw in those eyes, disdain for himself, that jumped out and came ...Read Morecrawl on his back like a worm. Instantly his spine snapped to attention and shook off the worm. He is free. A free agent. He had done whatever he had done with full awareness of what he was doing, of his own free will. He will not show a bent back to these slaves of evidence. The truth that is
NOBODY LIGHTS A CANDLE Anjali Deshpande 44 Pushpa was sweeping the place early in the morning. She did it sometimes on holidays, swept every corner clean. Took down the pants and shirts hanging from brackets behind the doors, wiped ...Read Moredoors clean, demolished the houses of insects built in crevices, moving all the chairs, stools, and tables and making the room capable of collecting a fresh film of dust. She pulled out the trunk form under the bed. “Why don’t you return it?” she asked as she swept its dusty top with her broom. He should return it. The woman
NOBODY LIGHTS A CANDLE Anjali Deshpande 45 “Been a long time, ustad,” said Bharat when he saw him. “A lot happened behind your back.” Adhirath said, “let us take a look at the farm.” “And this trunk? You want ...Read Moreleave it here on the bike?” “Will someone steal it?” Bharat shook his head. No people don’t steal so openly. Not here. Bharat picked up the trunk from this back of his bike and placed it inside his room and got onto the bike. Adhirath asked, turning the motorcycle towards the farm, “What is the news? Will the farm be
NOBODY LIGHTS A CANDLE Anjali Deshpande 46 When they returned the trunk to Ramwati in Amirpur she said nothing, did not even refuse to take it like Rakhi had. She did not say that her daughter was a characterless ...Read Moreso she had no desire to touch her thing. She did not even cry when she saw the colours of those clothes. Adhir had seen both daughters-in-law peering out at them form an inner room, there may have been just one room or may be another courtyard inside but all he could see was a door and the shadows of