The setting is India in the 1970s, a time of upheaval, poverty, and repression. This sweeping novel tells three stories, which come together in an unnamed city by the sea. Dina comes from a middle-class background, but the tragic death of her young husband leaves her on her own. She refuses to become the aunty in the home of her brother, and makes her way by sewing. The tailors are from a remote village, where they are part of the untouchable caste. They have endured unspeakable tragedies and injustice, before coming to the city to sew by day in Dina’s home, and live by night in slums, and on the street.
A young student from an idyllic hill station rents a room from Dina while he is in school. These characters move from distrust and dislike, to friendship and love. The fine balance they seek is between hope and despair, and each finds it in their own way.