A much-longed daughter is born with hair the colour of sunlight on the river. The shock of Daria’s silvery hair makes the midwife wet herself in the birthing room — an omen for the village gossip. The impropriety surrounding Daria’s birth travels around the village of Gulab Ganga, as the neighbours and relatives speculate what the future has in store for such a girl. Daria grows up affected by the rumours that circulate around the village each and every time she does anything atypical of a girl of her background. She sees and feels how small mistakes are made bigger when she commits them. At the same time, she is keenly aware of her mother’s atavistic fears of gossip, and her fierce loyalty to traditional values. Against all odds Daria, however, cultivates her own integrity. Daria’s father Azad Chaudhury, a sensible parent, believes that he can release Daria from her inauspicious destiny by arranging her marriage with someone local, who loves Daria desperately and hopes to marry her. Daria, however, falls in love with handsome Ali Baba, a young lawyer born and brought up in the seaside town of Chittagong. She marries Ali Baba and leaves her village for the city and 'Baba Lodge’, Ali Baba’s ivy mantled house, hidden behind a high wall, guarded by a paint-flaking picture of a howling Alsatian. There, the cast of characters grows to include, Ali Baba’s father, the one-eyed Kasim Baba, Ali Baba’s sister Rani, who seems to harbour quasi-incestuous feelings for her brother, and Alia, his mother obsessively bitter that Ali Baba has married a country bumpkin. Daria tolerates her new family’s oddities, for she is aware that as a married woman, she no longer belongs to her parental family. Both pride and fear of angering her mother keep her mute for a long time. Still blinded by tradition Daria gets pregnant hoping that a child will bring her closer to Ali Baba's heart, but in reality, it only exacerbates the situation. Daria realises that she can never raise Jhinuk the way she wants as long as she remains Ali Baba's wife. Her anger now takes a definite shape. She flees to her riverside village ready to fight anyone who would dare to take her child.
A graduate of Gothenburg University, Sweden, Dilruba Z. Ara is the author of the internationally acclaimed novel A List of Offences. Ara’s stories ‒ published in many international anthologies ‒ are studied at universities across the world. She has translated Selected Stories of Shahed Ali into English and some of Sweden’s Pippi Longstocking stories into Bengali. She lives in Lund, Sweden.