Nobody Lights A Candle – Anjali Deshpande


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The day after Holi. Former SHO Adhirath Jatav, recently dismissed from the Delhi Police, happens upon a murder—the body of a young woman, her insides split open, is found inside a farmhouse on the outskirts of New Delhi. A chance encounter with the woman’s mother clears some mystery—she was from a neighbouring village, a beautician and a presumed prostitute, with a string of fake names. Her poverty and social status had made her an outcast— her death is considered not a tragedy but an inconvenience.

While the police investigate half-heartedly, Adhirath finds himself drawn to the case. He feels a connection with this woman who, much like him and his ‘untouchable’ wife, had had to claw her way through life to secure a place for herself in society. Over time, Adhirath grows protective of the dead woman— her reputation and her dignity—and determined to find her killer.

Translated from the Hindi original—HatyaNobody Lights a Candle is a precise and nuanced meditation on the persistence of age-old biases and structural violence in a deeply unequal country. As sensitive, even tender, as it is hard hitting, this is a gripping read—crime fiction with heart and purpose.


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