A Note to the reader
The book BUDDHA SMILED is more than 140,000 words. It consists of seven booklets and is of 32 chapters.
1 The booklet, ‘The Trinity’ is of three chapters and is about three main characters Chirag, Raunaq and Viktor.
2 ‘Coming closer’ illustrates the events that bring Chirag, Rauanq and Viktor come closer. This part of the story is spread over about five years during the World War 2. The events take place in India, the UK and Europe.
3 ‘Tragic Reality’ is about the great Indian tragedy of Partition. This is not the main theme of the story but only one of the events which precedes the consequential story. The chapters therein occur during a short period of a year or two.
4 ‘Setting up of the Games’ is about the genesis of the Intelligence operations. It includes the setting up of the organisations by 1) the three main characters who are friends, 2) the professionals of the Pakistani team and 3) the Chinese schemer. This is spread over a decade.
5 ‘The scent’ describes the events that lead to the inevitable suspicion/ notice of main characters.
6 ‘The Action’ describes the events leading to capture of Chirag and Raunaq in the subcontinent.
7 ‘The Options’, is in reality gives a chance to the reader to become God and decide the fate of Chirag and Raunaq.
The whole story is linked to various events in the history. ‘All’ the events of the story perhaps has not happened, but it is difficult to be emphatic and say the main ‘games’ did not happen.
In the marketing sense, this book is a thriller, sprinkled with humour, closely linked to the historic events, devoid of gore or conventional ‘spice’. The story trots, accelerates and explodes into four outcomes. This can perhaps be classified as a spy thriller where each event forms an outcome or a corollary of an earlier event.
DR MANMOHAN SINGH
Synopsis: The novel is about two men of the Indian Subcontinent and is spread over about 50 years and three continents. This story is having the backdrop of the Empire’s last days as well as the Indian subcontinent.
Chirag Patel and Raunaq Patel (both belonging to the community of farmers and landlords of Indian sub-continent) are selected to the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun ( Officers Training Corps of the British Indian Army). They are from different parts of India (Karachi and Bombay respectively), speak different languages and psychologically different from each other. Incidentally they are also of different religions. They meet and ‘click’ in their tenure of training during War. They go through the World War 2 as trainees in the ‘Intelligence’ department under the Major Carpenter who was a World War One veteran.
During the course of their activity in the Second War they link up with Viktor a German who ‘works’ for the British. His code name is TAJ. His wife Anita is a staunch Nazi and she is shot during the mop up operation of the Americans in Germany. Viktor is ‘sent’ to England and gets assimilated into the British society with the help of Major Carpenter. The Indians are sent back to the Indian Sub continent. By bureaucratic design they land 3000 km apart. The ‘Hindu’ Patel (Chirag—of Karachi) lands in Calcutta and the 'Muslim' Patel (Raunaq – of Bombay) lands in Quetta. In effect they become ‘migrants’. Since they had undergone training in IMA and in Great Britain they automatically become the (elite) officers of India and Pakistan respectively. Both feel that the Partition of the subcontinent is only for an administrative convenience. Both keep routinely moving up in rank.
During one of the Commonwealth Meets they re-establish their links through Viktor the German. Due to idealistic and romantic thinking both the Patels decide to exchange military and political information. Information regarding Iran, Afghanistan and Russia to be passed on to Pakistan. Information regarding Ceylon, Nepal, Burma and China to be passed on to India. But they clearly decide that information of India or Pakistan would not be passed on as that would not be cricket. Viktor in England becomes the link.
Raunaq gives the information of the impending (1962) invasion of India by China. The mutual help goes on unhindered till somebody on the Indian side smells out a leakage. Major Vaidya on the Indian side sets up the investigation and the burrowing leads to Viktor. Viktor is contacted by an investigator in London employed by Vaidya. As per the earlier devised plan by Raunaq Patel, Viktor releases an advertisement in Times, London signalling about the investigation. On seeing the advertisement Raunaq in Pakistan presumes that his friend Chirag in India is under suspicion and would need help. He sets up a rescue operation. But it fails. The Indian authorities arrest Chirag Patel.
A Chinese schemer KP is working for the benefit of China and his interest is to keep India and Pakistan at loggerheads. KP instigates the arrest of Raunaq in Pakistan as he realises that both the Patels are in contact, which is against Chinese interests.
The story does not end with the arrests. There is a possibility of having at least four endings to the story, which are told by the last four chapters.
‘The Exchange’ details the act of exchange of the two Patels by the Governments of India and Pakistan.
BUDDHA SMILED details the assassination of both Chirag and Raunaq at the time of exchange.
‘The Exchange with Honour ‘details the aftermath of the assassination.
Lastly ‘The Flight ‘describes another ending of the story.
The writer, Mr. K. Raghu, was born in 1941 and is from a Tamil family.
His father was employed in the Railways, which took the family to the western part of India. The childhood days were in the interior, but by the time he was ten, the family landed in Bombay. The schooling, the college and a graduation in Metallurgical Engineering from IIT Bombay, all made the writer a Bombayite.
In his younger days he was a voracious reader, a delightful habit helped by the father. The Railway library at Bombay VT gave a glorious time during the vacations. The writer came across quite a few novels written by doctors – like Richard Gordon’s ‘doctor in’ series -- and none by engineers. Asking around with other senior voracious readers, the puzzle was explained by ‘the doctors dealt with people. So they understand the human problems. Engineers handle only machines and cannot have any insight to human feelings’. Young Raghu found that an extremely unfair assessment. May be that was the trigger for the Engineer to write.
His 37 years of professional life included an adventure into setting up an industry in a backward region. He had made a couple of trips to Europe for getting a technical collaboration for his employer who changed his mind about setting up a new industry. This made the writer quit. A couple of years of selling a wide range of items helped in market exposure and garnering capability to invest into an industry.
The actual venturing was induced by all the enthusiasm, support from friends, with finance, helping hands and well meaning advices. A decade later a true friend brought out the fact that the writer is quite innocent about running an own industry and should throw in the towel.
Then he took an employment in a commercial enterprise of another well-meaning friend in a far away place. The employment gave him bread but he started feeling that he was missing something in life.
The bug started here. The innate desire to write, a dispassionate view of the event in the world, the ability to see the funny side of the things in life, the slow realisation that the events are really ‘results’ of the past events and a PC at home all of which pushed the writer to action. The sons were supportive in their own way, teasing, ragging and ridiculing whenever possible.
The writer has about five books in mind, all of them of different category and for different reader profiles, and hopefully will be a hit in all of them.
1 1941 BOMBAY
2 1941 KARACHI 3 1938 BERLIN
4 1941 THE VOYAGE
5 1942 LONDON
6 1943 PARIS 7 1943 ZURICH
8 1945 STUTTGART 9 1945 LONDON TWO
10 1945 HYDERABAD 11 1946 BRISTOL
12 1947 NOT A HOME COMING 13 1947 SUBCONTINENT
14 1948 PROMOTION
SETTING UP OF THE GAMES
15 1961 COMMONWEALTH
16 1962 CHINESE INVASION
17 1955/ 1970 HONG KONG WEDGE
18 1965 RECRUITMENT MADRAS 19 1965 RECRUITMENT AGRA
20 1971 BANGLADESH
21 1972 FIRST HINT AT HONG KONG
22 1973 THE TRIP AT NEW DELHI
23 1973 COMFIRMATION AT
24 1973 THE BURROW
25 1973 THE RESCUE
26 1973 THE HUNT
27 1973 THE CLOSING IN
28 1973 THE SQUEAL
THERE IS ONLY ONE PAST .
THE FUTURE COULD BE MANY
28 1974 THE EXCHANGE
29 1974 BUDDHA SMILED
30 1974 THE EXCHANGE IN
31 1974 THE FLIGHT
The book BUDDHA SMILED is neither a novel about Buddhism nor one of humour. It is not a novel of wars but there are some wars. It is not a novel of espionage but it is a story involving three spies. It is not a novel on Partition, but partition forms a significant event in the story. It is not a naughty novel knocking beliefs or cultures. Nor it is a novel highlighting the prejudices around the world.
It is a novel of migrant Indians of the subcontinent, ‘in the subcontinent’. It is a novel having gentle flavours of friendship , loyalty and ethics. It made me sad while writing some of the pages. Some passages are likely to make the readers smile.
Many of my friends have inadvertently crept into the novel. Some friends and enemies of mine insinuated that I was in the story. I did a scan and found bits of me in many pages. Please do a search and you are sure to find yourself in the novel especially if you are from the subcontinent.
On reading the novel one realises that the World is like a planchette. All the events in the history are the result of multiple causes and multiple pressures. It is true in the cases of individual’s life as well. This novel by itself will not change anything in the world, least of all my finances.
I had started the novel as a lark. Later it became a passion. And soon it became a search for the unknown. Now the search is over on finding peace, an outcome of satisfactory completion of the novel.
The novel had taken a long time to write. It would have taken longer had not my sons pushed me periodically bullying, ridiculing and encouraging me.
This novel adheres to a dictum of the historians . There is only one past but there are several futures. The reader is offered the ‘options’ in the end. It is an unenviable task of making a choice.
. Karim Patel the first son of the family was in effect the head of the household as the father had abdicated. It is customary in India during pre-independence period to refer to the first son as the Prince of Wales. The first son had more responsibilities as well more authority in the house. So running agriculture became the main activity of Karim Patel. He was quite content and one of his indulgences was good food.
Patels are a community of farmers in the western part of India. The richer farmers usually have a large landholding and a good annual surplus. They sell the produce to the traders and in the lean years take hefty loans from them. The rich Patels are an economic force in the rural areas. Patels employ many labourers and lend money to them whenever they have a need. It helps in keeping the labour bonded sort of, obligated for life and quite submissive. The father and Karim particularly, over a period of time judiciously saved to build up a good financial reserve. In addition by timely borrowing they had bought up large tracts of land. Their family was considered well to do and in the village circles they were referred as Patidars which is an honorific term for rich farmers.
Karim’s younger brother Ismail was also married at a young age as per established social norms. As normally is the custom, his marriage was settled by his grandfather when Ismail was sixteen. Ismail’s father had no say in the matter. The events overtook time and soon Ismail had a cute little daughter. Ismail’s grandfather was pleased, which could not be said of his grandmother. She was looking forward to one more great- grandson in the lineage of her sons. The modern terminology for such feeling is gender bias.
Soon after in 1920 Raunaq the second child, the first son of Ismail was born. It was a great day for celebration as he was the heir to Ismail’s assets. The first son in the family did have a special status. The great grandmother passed away in peace, dutifully followed by her husband couple of months later. Raunaq the first son was quite a bright and active child. He grew up in a joint family and one of his favourite pastimes was watching his father and uncle play chess. On his third birthday his uncle Karim bought him a grand chess board and chess men, made of ebony and ivory from a nearby town Ahmedabad. It cost him a fortune even after the customary bargaining. The uncle and the nephew immediately had a game disregarding other chores that were pending. The uncle held a black and a white pawn in each hand, closed and took the hands behind. He did a bit of juggling of the pawns and brought the hands in front offering the choice to the nephew. Raunaq chose the right hand and that had the white pawn. The chessmen were set accordingly. Raunaq with white made the first move against his uncle. After eighty-ninth move Raunaq won partly because of the beginner’s luck. Raunaq’s day was made. The uncle had not played a soft game. Even after half a century Raunaq relished the happy moments of Karimkaka’s hug on the winning.
When Raunaq was about twelve his father Ismail started feeling that their village was not a good enough place for his son Raunaq to grow up. Needless to add Ismail did not particularly enjoy farming even though there was money in it. He wanted to shift to Bombay a large city mainly for providing a ‘modern’ surrounding for Raunaq.
He mooted the idea gently to his elder brother first, who had a better access to their father.
‘Motabhai, -- big brother an honorific term -- I would like to move over to Bombay’ said Ismail the younger brother. Karim, who could not refuse anything to his brother, was surprised at the request. He could not think of any reason that would induce a migration. He also felt protective of the younger brother who by then was a father of two children. Karim understood the feeling of boredom that Ismail felt in the village. Although born and brought up in a farmer’s family Ismail was not all that enamoured by farming activities. He wanted to go to Bombay and set up his life there. He also felt justified in his desire as he had an additional reason of availability of a good education for Raunaq.
After the customary resistance in the family and by the elders, Ismail was granted the permission to go. It had taken a couple of years of lobbying by both the brothers to bring the family around. The family was solicitous and had earmarked three servant families who would all go with Ismail’s family. Bombay a far off city was more than a day and a half’s of journey which is to be undertaken by various modes of transportation one after another.
Finally Ismail landed in Bombay half a decade before the World War 2. He joined a rich men’s club imaginatively called ‘The East of Suez Club’. The club had a hefty entry contribution of five hundred rupees. Gold then was about six rupees a tola. He also bought a four-horse carriage commonly known as Victoria. He picked up ‘Bridge’ and was quite a popular player. The Club had invited a few Englishmen of status to become honorary members. Some gracefully and some gratefully joined. It also strived to maintain an ambience a step ahead in snobbishness, than some of the British ‘white men only’ clubs. The net result was many Englishmen looked forward for an invitation to The East of Suez Club.
Before arriving at Bombay, Raunaq studied in the ‘mission’ school only one in the cluster of villages around. There were many such schools across the country propagating more of education and English language than of Christianity. On arriving at Bombay he walked into St Xavier School. It was a boys school where more than half the boys were from the British Islands. The other half were Indians and as such the colour bar was not noticeable. Raunaq was fairly good at studies and was a member of school team in cricket and chess. He participated in shouting for his school team whenever there were matches in say football or hockey. He would be in the school for another three years.
In the pre-final year of schooling Raunaq had an unbelievably new experience. He got refused. That was a turning point in his life. Raunaq had ‘Solomon’s ring’ and he was the first son of his parents. He had always got what he wanted. But one day when Raunaq was going into the sports room of his school, the entrance was blocked by one of his classmate Cliff Bobson. Well Bobson was the ‘school’s tough’ who was always spoiling for a fight. He was a winner in the interschool boxing competitions for the last three consecutive years. He was also an effective goal keeper in the football team.
Raunaq said “Please” indicating that he wanted to pass through the doorway. Bobson did not budge. Love him, hate him but you cannot ignore him. That was just what Raunaq did. He shouldered Bobson gently aside and entered the sports room.
Bobson was not going to let go of the opportunity. He grabbed Raunaq’s shirt collar and swung him around. Raunaq was not expecting this. He had already forgotten Bobson once he had passed him.
“Get the hands off my shirt” said Raunaq without rising his voice.
“Who the hell do you think you are?” said Bobson rather loudly.
And then there was a scuffle. Raunaq’s back was towards the entrance and he did not see Mr McBird the Sports Coach enter. Bobson was quick and he hugged Raunaq.
He smiled at the coach and said, “Good afternoon Sir”.
“Hey what is going on?” queried McBird jovially without breaking his steps.
Bobson’s reaction was quick here too. He said, “Patel and I are planning a boxing bout tomorrow, Sir.”
“Jolly good”, said the coach and he sauntered into his room. His head peeped out and he said “Evening five o’clock sharp tomorrow. Put it on the notice board”.
Raunaq was a sportsman for whom playing well was important and winning was only a consequence of that. But blood sports like boxing and wrestling did not interest him. He did not even watch the events. Physical injury and hurt he had had but they were more the outcomes of his mischief. He was almost never been beaten up by his friends, seniors or classmates. He just was not that type of a boy who invited a roughing up. Even his elder sister, who doted on him and hated him rather evenly, did not bash him. His father was one of the peace loving persons and Raunaq had so far not done anything that provoked the father to take to the cane.
Bobson waved to Raunaq Patel and rushed to put up a notice. Raunaq went to the coach’s room and knocked the door although it was open. “May I come in Sir?” “Come in, come in”, said Mr McBird without looking up. He was undoing the lace of his football shoe, and his shirt was wet with sweat – his cooling down period --. The coach loved all the active youngsters whom he instigated to shout, scream and support their respective teams. For him the whole world was full of sportsmen and all were perennially having games. He had selected Raunaq Patel to the school cricket team as he found in him a good mid order batsman and a good all rounder. Mr McBird was in his own world of planning the events for the next day. Patel straightaway told the coach what had happened.
First Mr McBird was amused and then the sportsman in him took over. He was appalled at the unfairness of the situation-- a novice in boxing, combating the school champ. “Okay! So what do you want to do? Call off the bout or fight him?” Raunaq did not have an answer. But Raunaq knew that somehow he had to stop Bobson pushing him. He instinctively knew that ducking this time meant Bobson would be pushing him forever. If Bobson did not ‘fight’ Raunaq then Raunaq would keep pushing him. Or that was how Bobson would see the situation. That was the basics of the balance of power. Raunaq was also aware that he was no match for Bobson in boxing. The difficult choice was resolved by the coach.
“Take my advice. You go ahead with the bout. I will give you a few tips. If you manage to remember (the coach smiled here) then you have a respectable chance of not being knocked out. I will restrict the bout to three rounds. What do you say?” said the coach. Raunaq agreed. The coach taught him the fundamentals of boxing. The salient points were, not to let the guard down and not to lose the temper. Raunaq laughed at the contradiction.
“Remember”, the coach said seriously, “it is a sports event and not a combat”.
About an hour of punching the sack introduced Raunaq to boxing. McBird was not going let the practice last longer, lest Raunaq end up with a body ache, stiff muscles or a damaged wrist. The next morning another half an hour of practice was all that he permitted. That day all Raunaq’s classmates were excited. Both the combatants had their own supporters and well wishers. Everybody else thought the bout as a sports event. Only, Bobson and Raunaq Patel thought it as a fight. Neither let on ‘that’ to others.
The weather was warm and the boys came in wearing sports shorts, barefoot and with gloves on. The tennis court doubled as the boxing ring. The viewers stayed outside the court and a square was marked in the middle for the boxers. McBird checked the gloves reminded about the rules and the boys shook hands and the bout started. Bobson knew he was superior in the ring. His mind switched off all other thoughts and concentrated on boxing with one aim, how to get a knockout. Raunaq kept oscillating and swinging his arms gently, alert to respond quickly. Before he knew what was happening he received a left hook. His reflex was good but not good enough. Bobson’s gloves touched Raunaq’s right temple glancing over his oily hair. He was never been hit before and this was another new experience. That jarred his head and his mind exploded in anger, getting his guard down. Raunaq was to have had a defensive bout. But he went forward with hands swinging like windmill forgetting everything McBird had taught.
. Bobson’s mind was quick and so were his body movements. He saw the anger in Raunaq’s eyes and anticipated that the guard would be down. It would be an easy knockout. But he had misjudged Raunaq’s speed and took a few punches on the body and one on the jaw. Bobsons’s complacence evaporated and he braced himself for a few more punches. Raunaq’s anger had not subsided with the punches he had delivered. Consequently he made a mistake. He went on the offensive and swung his right fist with all his weight towards Bobson’s cheek. Bobson the expert just side stepped and gave an upper cut. It was a simple knockout in the first round.
The bout and the fight were over.
First he was refused entry to the sports room. Then he was knocked out. When he came to senses Raunaq was born again. He decided to get into the vulgar inelegant blood sport. He was surrounded by smiling faces of the coach, his well wishers as well Bobson who had made his point. Bobson also realised that Raunaq was not a pushover. For Raunaq from then on it was simply a matter of slogging and slugging and the next year he was the runner up in the school boxing tournament.
Ismail Patel took Raunaq and the trophy to the Club to exhibit his ‘first son’ who had won a boxing trophy. All the friends beamed and enquired about studies, cricket and future plans. At that age who thinks of future and neither did Raunaq. Just then a British Army officer Col. Waterman came in to meet Ismail Patel. Both of them had a long association as the colonel was also an honorary member of the East of Suez Club. As both of them were innately likeable they got along well and met quite often at the club.
The dad proudly presented the son to the colonel and the admiration was mutual. Raunaq liked the colonel's smart khaki, easy manners, genuine smile that originated from the eyes, and the ‘golden hair’. The colonel liked the boy for his erect posture, alert eyes, infectious grin and the boxing trophy. They hit off well and he insisted the youngster join them. There was the usual talk of future, the usual advices thrown about by elders and usually not taken up by youngsters. The advice session took a better part of an hour.
Raunaq was advised by the colonel to take up Army as a career. He was from a family of soldiers and for him there was no other respectable profession. It was just a matter of Raunaq joining Indian Military Academy (IMA), Dehradun. IMA was recently started Military Academy, in line with Sandhurst of England. It was to cater to Indian sub continent and would be bringing out top class officers. In stages the Indians would be taking over from the British officers. The World war was not in the horizon yet.
Raunaq was natural officer material and the idea appealed to him. There was only one snag, which he did not realise then and it was too late when he did. If you were an officer in the Army and gave orders, it was obeyed. He was used to that from a young age anyway. Only when he got inducted into the army did he realise that he got orders too. That was a few years hence anyway.
Ismail Patel, the whole family and the servants periodically visited their village. They reached after a long tedious journey from Bombay. The elder brother Karim was always glad to receive them. As the de facto head of the family, it was expected of Karim to arrange the wedding for Ismail’s daughter which he did. In fact there had been a delay, more because he could not locate a groom to ‘match’. Anyway a good match was settled. The girl was happily married and was sent to her in-law’s place at Lucknow, a city in north India. That automatically upgraded Raunaq’s position at home further.
Karim was very proud of his younger brother, his dress style, his ability to speak ‘proper’ English with a different accent and the knowledge of world events. The world events did not actually affect the life at the Indian villages but there was glamour attached to knowing and talking about what was happening in England and Europe. America was not well known then.
Patels were farmers and they produced grains. They were very proud of their profession, even those who were not well off. During one of the sojourns the brothers were discussing the way the farming and the grain trade were going. During a discussion a point that came up was the differential between the price Karim was getting and the price that was ruling at Bombay. Ismail made a contemptuous observation that he might as well take up trading at Bombay and make money on the side. Trading was not thought highly by the farmers. The businessman in Karim liked the idea. He egged the younger brother on. It was not just cutting the middle men off, but more to get the younger brother Ismail to utilise his potential, his location, his contacts and his links. It would also be profitable to the family.