About The Book
A cold, rainy night in a forest across the Ganges, deep in the heart of eastern India.
An unarmed man with anger in his heart and a fortune on his person.
A handsome Thakur with evil on his mind and blood on his hands.
Both chasing a rare diamond, but for completely different reasons.
As the chase draws to a nerve-wracking climax, the night, too, is ticking down to a bloody end.
There are the others too—the Thakur’s beautiful wife, the sleazy psychopath, the angry muscleman, the corrupt dairy manager’s stunning daughter and the aging ranch hand with angry welts across his body and soul.
Each is a pawn in this bizarre game of life and death, and each with a story to tell. Or hide.
Will there be a sunrise for Shambhu? Or will he die like his friend, whose brutal murder triggered his perilous journey?
About The Author
Growing up in Bihar through the troubled sixties and seventies, Hemant has witnessed turmoil from such close quarters, that he says he has looked into the bowels of the monster called violence. But in the same turmoil, he says he has come across character of extraordinary solidity – in men and women of ordinary means. Hemant says Prey By The Ganges has cooked in his mind for as long as he can remember.
You can find out more about the book and contact the author here:
Read the first three chapters of the book:
October 15, 1948.
By the river Ganges, in a remote eastern Indian village.
It was a clear October night by the holy Ganges. Clear, and very very still. It had stopped raining in the plains and early snowflakes had dusted the Himalayan ledges, from where the river came cascading to the plains. She felt and looked more settled. Gone were the muddy impurities of the monsoon and the froth and gurgle they brought. Her waters were cooler, but quieter, cornering boulders instead of smashing against them, gliding off their slick, moss-encrusted backs like gleeful kids giggling over slides. The river was wide here. There were times in the summer when two people could stand at its opposite banks and talk to each other. Now, she was hundreds of feet at her widest and you had to shout to be heard across the waters.
A surreal wisp of mist hovered over her cool waters, curling and vanishing softly into the milky ether. Every now and then, a darting bat or a preying owl skimmed over the surface, tearing the mist, ruffling its curls. Other than that, the night was absolutely still. A full moon slipped across the horizon like torchlight muted with butter paper.
Light was graduated in a diffuse sequence of grey, from almost black on the ground, to the softest touch of milky white in the silver sky. Tiny, unseen droplets of moisture landed noiselessly on the leaves and the grass. As each droplet fell, the tender leaves shivered and deepened their furrows, welcoming the gift of the Gods. Giant neem, mango, banyan and tamarind trees were sprawled out in the moonlight, soaking up the cosmic nectar of the night.
It was three in the morning. Even the dogs were asleep. Nothing stirred, nothing moved. Not a sound.
But 35 year old Hariya was wide awake. He had waited a whole year for this night. Once in many years, the stars and the planets lined up in a formation that showered the earth with unique bone healing properties. And Hariya sat up all night under the open sky with half-a-dozen wide-brimmed earthen pans filled to the top with freshly prepared herbal formulations. Hariya was friend, mentor, guide, cook for vaidya Shambhu Nandan, who was lying on a cot in a hut nearby, unable to sleep – in stark contrast to the serenity of the night. Flickering in a blackened alcove, a small, naked oil lamp kept him restless company.
On the outskirts of the capital city of Patna, this stretch of the riverbank was sparsely populated. Shambhu and Hariya did not live here. They lived in Shibgunj, hundreds of miles south of Patna. The hut was a kind of rest house for herb-gathering visits into the jungle across the river, and for special occasions, like the one tonight.
It was a night of waiting, and Shambhu and Hariya had decided to spend it fortifying their flagship herbal preparation with the healing energy of the rare celestial alignment of Sharad Purnima.
In the morning, they would offer special prayers by the river and pour the herbs into ceramic bottles, sealing each one of them with hot wax to keep the moisture out.
“If you soak in this cosmic rain enough number of years, you, too, will become as invincible as those herbs in those pans”, Shambhu often joked with him. Hariya adored vaidya Shambhu, a man he knew to be upstanding and devoted to his profession. In a silent prayer, he closed his eyes briefly, asking the Gods to grant Shambhu more healing energy.
Hariya sat back and rested his palms on the cool, soft ground, straightening his hurting back. He loved this time of the year when the air had a smoky, cool flavour and dew drops clung to the ground. Shambhu had asked him to wrap a light shawl around his shoulders to keep his head and back warm. But the warmth made him sleepy and he was using the shawl as a sheet on the ground. His eyes had become so accustomed to the dark and his ears so in tune with the sounds of the night that he could hear the rustle of leaves or a coughing cow in faraway fields. The silence was ethereal- powerful and deep. Completely devoid of all earthly distractions, the atmosphere was charged with an otherworldly energy- a sort of background hum that descended upon the earth from the stars above. It lingered over the trees and the grass like the fading note of an ethereal aum.