Myshkin looks back on his life in a poor Indian village while he tries to piece together the jigsaw of his artist mother's abrupt disappearance when he was a child. He has spent his whole life awaiting her return. Fact intertwines with fiction, and real people feature, making this an enthralling read.
I don't remember anything different about my mother in the hours before she ran off with an Englishman who was actually a German. Bulbous slate-grey clouds sat in wait that morning, low enough to touch. When my mother came out to see me off to school, she glanced up at the sky and shut her eyes with a squeal as she was showered by drops of water. 'Last night's rain is still raining' she said. The big trees that shaded the house gleamed and when the wind shook their branches they set off showers from their wet leaves. 'The clouds are so dark, it'll be a beautiful day. It'll pour and pour and when the sun comes out there will be a rainbow right from here to the railway station.' She wiped her face with a corner of her sari. 'You'd better hurry, you mustn't get wet. Are you carrying an extra shirt in your bag? You are not to sit in class soaked to the skin, you'll get fever.'