The dew hasn't formally evaporated off the mustard leaves outside. Except for the sleeping baby, she is alone at home. Her mother gave her this much. As an excuse Lata Bai left Shanti behind for Mamta to look after. She has an hour before her mother will return from the well.
Mamta runs her hand over her wedding sari. For a minute she considers why it is already lying unwrapped, in precise folds gleaming like a treasure in her mother's tin trunk, then she remembers her mother had used the wrapping to deliver Shanti. She picks up a corner and looks through the sheerness of the fabric. Everything turns red, the red of love. Mamta smiles. It is as it should be. "Keep my world red, oh Devi," she prays. "Jai ho Devi, Devi Jai ho," she recites her mother's words. Almost a married woman, she feels she has an equal right to them.'
Mamta is one of seven children and learns early on in her childhood what it means to be born female in rural India. Married to a savagely unkind and brutal husband, she flees to the city to try and make a new life for herself. Sharing her story are her mother, Lata Bai, the saintly Lokend, her ever-loving brother Prem, a soul-searching bandit and a brutal landlord. This is a redemptive story, despite the often unforgiving setting, and one that is difficult to put down.