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ExtractRead chapter 1 of the novel

        Inspector Prabash hadn't been present at the scene last night, at the village outside Mahaban. One of his subordinates there had put on airs, bullying me with questions. I had assumed he was more important than he was, and had consequently been more forthcoming than I had needed to be. Much more forthcoming. It had all seemed so strange, so aberrant, unreal, the darkness and the rain, the police, the endless questions. The need for evasion, selection, rearranging the facts... I had lost sight of this, in those moments, because in those moments nothing seemed to mean anything. My words were nonsense. Names had tumbled out, information, facts. They meant nothing. Dr. Rahul and Howard Danka, Wyndham Charles, R. K. Kumar. Who were these people? Their significance was lost to me. They were the nexuses linking the events that had occurred in my life over the past week, but in those wild moments they had become nothing, a mere pattern of sounds, that was all: ra-ool, coo-ma, wind'm charls.
        Without these names to hold them the events had begun to drift in my mind. They weren't real. They hadn't happened to me. What were they doing in my head?
        The officer who had quizzed me had possessed the flaw of all unimportant members of officialdom in India: an overinflated view of the importance of his work. The notes he had taken were detailed and copious. Prabash was perusing them now, smudged squiggles on once sodden pages which had crimped as they had dried in the damp heat of the police station. The pages crackled like dry leaves as he turned them slowly, deliberately, one by one.
        "The corruption wasn't important," I said at length. "Not from a personal, moral standpoint. But it troubled me to think that Wyndham was mixed up in such things. It disturbed me that his motives might not have been as pure as I had always thought they were."
        "What manner of corruption?"
        I shrugged. "I don't know. Wyndham had received bad money, kickbacks. He was importing medicines. There was something irregular about them, I'm not entirely sure what. You can check with your counterparts in Delhi. They were investigating him."
        "Because of corruption?"
        "Yes."
        "And this is why you went to village yesterday?"
        "I wasn't interested in the corruption, I really wasn't. Just Wyndham's involvement in it. His motives. I had always admired him for those, and for the work he's done. I needed to know our friendship wasn't founded on a lie."
        I explained all this carefully. It seemed important to me to be as clear and precise as I could. Not that Inspector Prabash seemed to care much for my answers one way or the other: he nodded, he twisted, he twirled and twirled the tips of his moustache.
        "I will need further information from you," he told me matter-of-factly. "For instance, address in Delhi where this hospital is. Also, this man you mentioned - Dr. Rahul, you said?"
        His voice boomed in the room and made it seem all the more boxy. There was a desk there, two chairs, a fan on the desk and few frills: a tiffin box in a nook by the window and a jar of lime pickle on the sunlit sill, and a Hindu calendar, showing a picture of the monkey god Hanuman, hanging askew on a wooden dowel in the wall.
        Inspector Prabash stopped playing with his moustache to note Dr. Rahul's name down and the address I gave him for Wyndham's hospital in the capital. His fingers were slippy holding the pen and his writing was wild. Somehow I was depressed by the fact that, of all the names I had given, he seemed to want to make most of the one which meant least.
        "You can tell me if Dr. Charles was carrying anything with him," he asked - he was still saying the name wrong, char less - "letters, documents, anything of this type? Or something of value, perhaps?"
        "I don't know. I suppose he might have been carrying his passport. I really don't know."
        "You see, we have yet to find any of his personal effects. We have your word only that it is this man, Dr. Charles. You can tell me how long you are knowing him?"
        "Didn't I tell you that already?"
        He smiled. "Please tell me again."





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Buy the e-book version of Delhi Deadlines online via Amazon.co.uk (UK readers), and Amazon.com (North America).


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