The story of a woman's search for strength and independence
Meet Akhilandeshwari, Akhila for short: forty-five and single, an income tax clerk and a woman who has never been allowed to live her own life - always the daughter, the sister, the aunt, the provider. Until the day she gets herself a one-way ticket to the seaside town of Kanyakumari, gloriously alone for the first time in her life and determined to break free of all that her conservative Tamil brahmin life has bound her to. In the intimate atmosphere of the ladies coupe which she shares with five other women, Akhila gets to know her fellow travellers: Janaki, pampered wife and confused mother; Margaret Shanti, a chemistry teacher married to the poetry of elements and an insensitive tyrant too self-absorbed to recognize her needs; Prabha Devi, the perfect daughter and wife, transformed for life by a glimpse of a swimming pool; fourteen-year-old Sheela, with her ability to perceive what others cannot; and Marikolanthu, whose innocence was destroyed by one night of lust. As she listens to the women's stories, Akhila is drawn into the most private moments of their lives, seeking in them a solution to the question that has been with her all her life: Can a woman stay single and be happy, or does a woman need a man to feel complete?