IN this fiction, the protagonist is a writer named Mohan who lives with his wife Lakshmi at Saraswati Park. One day they receive the news from Mohan’s sister Vimla that she and her husband have been transferred and that they plan to leave behind their teenaged son Ashish with them for a year to help him complete his studies. Though worried that “it’s going to be a lot of extra work. And also expenses,” Lakshmi welcomes Ashish into the family as she is fond of this nephew of Mohan. She even goes to the extent of waiting at the door to welcome him by holding a comb in one hand and raising it like a ceremonial item before instructing Ashish, “Now with the right foot” before stepping inside her threshold. He is surprised at this ceremonial welcome and points out, “You never made me do that before.” To this her reply is, “But then you were only visiting.”
While they all settle down to their routine life, Mohan brings the news that Lakshmi’s only remaining sibling Satish has died. Satish had been a popular teacher in his own way and “he had been the kind of teacher and certainly the kind of individual, whom few people forgot.”
Meanwhile, unknown to his aunt and uncle, Ashish gets involved in a sexual relationship with his tutor Narayanan. One day Narayanan apologises to Ashish for getting involved with such a young boy like him and advises him to break the relationship.
Mohan goes and fetches Lakshmi back as she had left home in a huff, angry with him over his lack of interest in her. Ashish catches the flight to Dubai while his aunt and uncle see him off at the airport. Ashish makes a last telephone call to Prof. Narayanan to tell him that he is leaving Saraswati Park for good.
(HarperCollins Publishers India, A-53, Sector-57, Noida – 201 301.)