In Open magazine, an extract from Sandipan Deb‘s The Last War. The novel is a re-imagining of the Mahabharata set in the Mumbai underworld:
‘Are you ready?’ asked Kishenbhai.
Jeet was standing at the window, looking out at the apartment buildings on view. They were all dark, the inhabitants were all asleep. Dead to the world, in deep sleep, or fitfully, or just pretending. Some of them would have their minds peopled with as many ghosts as I have in mine, thought Jeet. No, not as many, but they would never know. Every man gets the number of ghosts he deserves. Or can bear. Lying there in bed, all alone, with his wife sleeping peacefully, a foot or two away…The balconies of all the apartments Jeet could see were grilled. In effect, they had all been converted to little ironing chambers. All of them had ironing boards in them. How many clothes did they iron every day? I have never ironed anything in my life. The ironing just happened. I don’t even know who ironed my clothes. Bizarre.
Jeet touched the gun snuggled in his waistband. He had dismantled it, cleaned and oiled it and put it back together a few hours ago. He loved doing that. Maybe ironing gave the same sort of pleasure…bringing something back to full efficiency and the original pristine identity. That was perhaps something everything in the world deserved. Except for living beings. They grew old and died. More:
And another extract in Outlook: