Shoes of the Dead, the bestseller which narrates life and death battle of a farmer against his inheritance of despair, will soon be a motion picture.
Extracts from Shoes of the Dead (Page 1 to 3) Chapter One
(Tuesday evening, the Kashinath residence, New Delhi)
The November sunlight was like a gentle reminder of an old promise, touching the conscience hesitantly. For those in Delhi inoculated early in life against such evils as a conscience, it was just the month ahead of the winter session of Parliament, and the time to posture aggressively but slip quietly into the limelight. Such political punctuations in the yearly calendar came in the form of exclusive gatherings of ‘personal friends from the media’ organized by ambitious politicians. As even some of these carefully chosen journalists could still remain loyal to their profession, the younger politicians had to be often chaperoned and shielded from the ‘freer’ elements of the press.
One such element, Nazar Prabhakar, parked his car outside the venue of one such exclusive gathering that evening. As he walked along the footpath, he observed the vehicles parked on the road; the labels on the windscreens gave him a fair idea of which of his colleagues he could expect at the meeting.
He walked in through the guarded gates of the government bungalow and was led to the garden behind the house over a narrow brick lane lined with early blooming winter flowers. He was certain that the choice and arrangement of the plants had been made by a government gardener who must have done this year, irrespective of who lived in the house. Nazar felt that the flowers lost a bit of their charm if their blooming was merely procedural and probably approved by a director of the horticulture department.
But he realized, as he walked into the simmering, slant sunlight and the gentle mist on the grass, that it was not in everyone’s fortune to have the sun set in their backyard. The western horizon was one of the various heirlooms inherited by Keyur Kashinath.
Keyur was sitting among a circle of journalists, sharing a joke, the laughter soft and genuine. When he saw Nazar, he walked up to receive him and led him to a chair one place away from his own seat. They had met twice before but were yet to like each other.
Besides Nazar, there were five other journalists gathered in the small circle. From across, Sushila Lal, from an English-language television channel, smiled at him politely. In the chair next to him was Manohar Pandit, from a Hindi television network, and they shook hands. Next to Pandit was Girish Das, a friend who worked for a magazine. The only other newspaperman was Param Singh, a senior journalist and a friend of Keyur’s father. As Nazar wished him good evening, Param nodded, the waning sunlight travelled through his silver hair, making it look almost golden. Nazar had been to this garden before. On the western side, it extended up to the rear garden of the neighboring bungalow, the official residence of the union minister for chemicals and fertilizers. The minister was a fourth-time member of Parliament and an important ally in the coalition government. On the southern side, the garden touched the flank of the residence of another MP, a lady who held a crucial post in the organization of the Democratic Party, or the DP, the principal party in government. To the north was home of the minister for heavy industries, who had wanted an even heavier portfolio but had to settle when the party compensated by offering a palatial government residence instead.
In fact, Keyur should not have been in that garden a he was only a first-time MP. But the house belonged to Vaishnav Kashinath, Keyur’s father. Vaishnav was one of the two general secretaries of the DP, the right-hand man of the party president, a close confidante of the prime minister, a sixth-term MP and the only man in the party to have ever resigned from a ministership taking moral responsibility for an accident that happened on his watch. It had been a decade since the resignation, and Vaishnav kept away from government positions, reaping the respect bestowed on him due to his selfless act of the past, untarnished by the risks of responsibilities of the present. The story of how Vaishnav inducted Keyur into national politics was now a legend in Delhi circles...