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Death of the Patriarch

Death of the Patriarch
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sdhgjkdhsgkhsdBrothers in arms and families at war, the plot for the great epic Mahabharata finds another setting in the Mumbai underworld Dusk was falling by...

sdhgjkdhsgkhsdBrothers in arms and families at war, the plot for the great epic Mahabharata finds another setting in the Mumbai underworld Dusk was falling by the time Yash came out of a mansion close to the Taj Hotel after a meeting with a few of his suppliers. They had expressed some concern about the war, but Yash thought he had successfully managed to reassure them that all was well, and there was nothing for them to worry about. He stopped on the steps and breathed in the salty sea air. The Gateway of India was lit up in front of him, and he remembered his days as a roadside archer. Then it struck him. In the fiftytwo years since he got into Pestonjee's Rolls-Royce that day, he had never taken a walk near the Gateway. He had had countless meetings at the Taj, and just called his car and driven away. "Shall we call the car, sir?" asked one of his two bodyguards.Yash was silent for a while. Then he said: "No, I'll just take a walk. I'll be back in five minutes. You wait here.""But, sir�" started one of the guards. Yash held up one arm to silence him."I'll be all right," he said. "You wait here. I just want to be alone for a while."He crossed the road and walked towards the Gateway. How little had changed here since those days, he thought. The same pigeons, the balloon sellers, the candy floss merchants, the telescope-wallahs, who, for a fee, showed you an island or two and a ship or three, the lovers in search of solitude in crowds.
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He could hear the sea crashing to the right of him. The teenaged Shankar, Shiv and Satya innocently putting their lives at risk every day at his hands. If the arrow missed its mark by an inch, one of them would possibly die, or at least be maimed for life. And then a Rolls-Royce comes, a window glides down.Since that night at Alibaug, Yash had not killed many men with his own hands, though he had ordered the slaying of dozens, if not more than a hundred. Pestonjee had made him the organization man, while BK had taken over field operations. Both of them had grown the organization far beyond what perhaps Pestonjee had dreamt of: BK the hammer, Yash the hand that wielded the hammer. Yash wondered whether Pestonjee was watching them from somewhere, perfectly groomed, a smoking Pall Mall between the index and middle finger of his left hand.Would he have approved of how his organisation had turned out? Yash felt a deep sadness descending on him. All around him, people were happy, out for a good time, children chasing one another with their parents running behind them, trying not to lose sight of them. Lose sight. He had lost sight of the problem, or rather, known about it and had procrastinated, looked away from it, hoping that if you don't look at it, ignore it, it would go away. He had been foolish and he had strayed from his principles and the oath he had taken at the bedside of the dying Pestonjee. Things had not been helped by Shankar being blind in more ways than one. But now, there was no going back. All bridges had been burnt. Pestonjee had been wrong in one of his dying predictions, thought Yash. He had said that there would be a great war, and the side that wins would rule Mumbai. Yes, the war was on, but whoever won the war would not rule Mumbai. They would be far less powerful than the united Pestonjee organization. Stray groups would flourish, new satraps would seize power because the organization would have been weakened, the centre wouldn't hold. It would take years, if it was possible at all, to bring them all under one roof. And that would again mean blood, a lot of blood. When did dharma desert him?Yash suddenly found himself in a limitless empty space. There was absolute silence all around, just the beating of his heart. Whichever way he looked, it was pitch dark, and he knew instinctively that there was nothing in that space, not a soul. He tried to move, but his body seemed paralysed, condemning him to an eternal stasis. Is this death, he wondered. He stood still, willing, from the bottom of his heart, to accept whatever was on offer. A sharp blow on his shoulder spun him around, and he was no longer in that empty space, he was standing in front of the Gateway of India. Ten feet away from him stood the eunuch Chameli, pointing a silencer-fitted revolver at him. Hidden almost entirely behind her was Jeet.Chameli fired again, and missed. Yash did not draw his gun. He stood there, waiting, waiting for Jeet to shoot. He saw Jeet's gun, also fitted with a silencer, come into view, his hand resting on Chameli's shoulder for support. The first bullet hit him in the chest, and Yash staggered back. The second bullet hit him in the neck and he fell. He lay on the ground, his mouth filling with blood, watching Chameli walk up to shoot him the one final time, to make sure. As Chameli touched the cold silencer barrel to his forehead, Yash could hear Jeet weeping in the background.His last thought, in that instant between the final flash and the ultimate darkness, was that Jeet had nothing to weep for, nothing to ask forgiveness for. (Excerpt from 'The Last War' by Sandipan Deb, Publisher: PanMacmillan India)
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