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I cannot undo what they have made of me. I cannot go back and smoothen out the wrinkled brow of my childhood . . . there are things I must settle, gaps I must fill. Both for their sake and mine. It is the 1930s and the fire of the freedom movement from distant Bengal and Delhi is warming the languid bones of the small town in Mysore, where Kaveri and Setu grow up.
Theirs is a liberal, prosperous household and the family takes its privileges for granted. Mylaraiah, their father, believes that they are twice protected from such delusions as -swarajonce by the British and then by the Maharaja.
While Setu absorbs their fathers unquestioning veneration of the British, Kaveri, profoundly affected by Mahatma Gandhis visit to their town, comes to recognize their attempts to be -more English than the English as rather shameful. In an attempt to follow her heart and take charge of her own future, Kaveri defies her father and participates in the Quit India march organized by Shyam, the hot-headed revolutionary she is attracted to.
Angered and jealous, and loyal to his father, Setu is forced into betraying his sister. The small town is shaken into life quite brutally when it faces a police firing for the first time in its history.
But Kaveri is safe and home, or so Setu thinks . . . Fifty years later, Setus daughter tries to unravel the circumstances of her uneasy upbringing, of the grit-in-the-eye feeling to her childhood; understand her cold father, her self-effacing mother and their refusal to talk about their past.
Two books and a letter found in a tea tin in the attic lead her to Kaveri and it is Kaveri, whose fate remains shrouded in mystery, who has the answer to her questions. But even with all the pieces of the jigsaw in hand, the picture eludes her.
She is forced to come to terms with the insidiousness of family bonds as she realizes that the truth, if it at all exists, is made of elisions and imperfections.
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