In an unnamed town lives Nena—surely one of the world’s greatest eccentrics. Water burns her skin, to the extent that she can neither drink it nor bathe in it; she survives on ‘water capsules’ and does her ablutions with a mix of herbs and plants. She speaks several languages and still grieves about the books that were her childhood companions—that her heartless brother had thrown into the river. And she exults in telling stories about her late husband’s affairs—with a laughter that precludes sympathy.
Then, in her seventies, she embarks on a journey to track down all her husband’s lovers. The narrator, a boy of seventeen, whom she calls Tata (though that is not his real name) accompanies her on this mission. By journey’s end, he has learnt the most startling truth about her—what it is that she can’t do—and what it led her to do.
Laced with humour and a raw wisdom about life, Shinie Antony’s lyrical prose turns this strangely compelling story into a believable fantasy.