Devayani decides to live alone in the small town of Rajnur after her parents’ death; ignoring the disapproval of her family and friends. She works as an English teacher, loves creating garden of her own, and is a very low key person living in her own world. One day she meets Rani, a former actress, who has settled in the town with her husband and three children. Within no time Rani and Devayani share a strong bond of friendship or womanhood. They too aren’t sure but the relationship between them creates this need of meeting daily and sharing things.
Rani’s entry in Devyani’s life brings in Ashok Chinappa too, who is Rajnur’s new DSP. After few meetings with Ashok and lot of contemplation with self, surprisingly Devayani finds that she has fallen in love with Ashok. Something contradictory to what she had thought that she would never get married and would always live alone-independent! Ashok too falls in love with her, despite the fact that he is much older and married. Both of them painfully acknowledge and accept right from the beginning that this relationship will take them nowhere.
Adding the lines presented as the summary on the back cover of the book :
Why did I do it?
Why did I enter the country of deceit?
What took me into it?
I hesitate to use the word love,but what other word is there?
And yet, like the word “atonement”,
the word love is too simple for the complicated
emotions and responses that made me do what I had done.
Ultimately, I did it because he was Ashok,
because we met.
Shashi’s writing tracks the suffering, evasions and lies that overtake those caught in the web of relationships.
There is no specific climax to the story, no one wins at the end. it does not carry the ‘Everything turns out to be perfect because it’s the end of the tale’ attitude. This is a tale which is compassionate, spells nature of love, loyalty, deceptions and yet is rooted to the ground. Shashi is one of the great Indian English fiction writers. Though most of the times people might feel her novels are dark, which they are indeed, but I always feel they are rooted to the ground realities of life and work as a showcase of relationships,feelings and emotions for the readers.