Arrives Ashok Chinappa, the DSP of Rajnur, and though older and married, declares his love for Devayani. Shashi Deshpande’s extraordinary skill in portraying inner psychology builds a tale of beauty rather than cheating. Promises of a durable relation are neither made nor expected. In being together, the lovers find tenderness and understanding; apart, they do not exist in each other’s functional world. Their ecstasy outweighs the pain of separation. The novel exquisitely captures fragile relations. Adultery is an ugly word that has been stripped of its ugliness in masterpieces such as Anna Karenina and Madame Bovary. Deshpande’s work enters the same realm with equal sensitivity with the added challenge of convincing Indian readers that there can be no moral judgements.
But the story goes beyond the liaison of two wandering people. It is about the lure of money and fame, ambition and crime that is driving small-town India into an unsavoury global standard of "success". It is Deshpande’s warning note that we need not give up all that is local to chalk our success; that we need indigenous, self-determined identities.