‘If ever there was a courtyard in paradise, it was here.… At some distance from the bungalow was a banyan tree, with its brooding branches touching the ground. On one side was a grove of litchi trees that led to the unpaved driveway. Surrounding the other side was a forest of sal and eucalyptus trees…’
It is the 1970s, and the Emergency is at its peak. Arun, an idealistic young man, is a medical intern in Dehradun whose life takes an unexpected turn when he is accused of losing a senior doctor’s wedding rings. As he begins his search for the rings, he meets Victoria, an older English missionary, who has made India her home. Arun persuades her to rent him a room in her compound, and, slowly, over shared meals and games of Scrabble, the two form an unlikely bond. In Victoria, Arun finds a patient listener and a spiritual anchor, while he reminds her of a long-lost love.
Amidst the increasing tension regarding the lost wedding rings and his ambiguous relationship with Victoria, Arun is forced to choose between Sujata, his fellow intern who is engaged to be married, and Trishna, a nurse who loves him in spite of his indifference towards her.
Seeing Arun struggle, Victoria offers to help him compensate for the rings and find a job, and it seems like Arun’s troubles have come to an end. But when the government changes with the end of Emergency, both Victoria and Arun must decide whether they can continue living in the country.
A charming, often poignant, novel that captures the lush beauty of Dehradun, Unforeseen Desires is a bittersweet coming-of-age story.