Priyanthi Silva and her brother, Hermantha, grow up in the beautiful Colombo neighbourhood of Araliya Gardens. Priyanthi falls in love with her neighbours' son, Niranjan. In a climate of political tension and ethnic divisions, they must keep their love a secret. On a hot July day, the city erupts in violence with rampaging mobs, looting and murder and the consequences for their relationship are heartbreaking.
Just as they had never meant to fall in love, they never intended to deceive their families. It just happened that way. Ordinarily, it would have been a match made in heaven. They were the right age, although Enid might have thought Priyanthi still a little too young for a boyfriend, they were both bright and they both came from respectable middle-class families. However, Priyanthi was a Sinhalese girl and Niranjan was a Tamil boy and that difference was insurmountable. Sometimes, after they had feverishly kissed and caressed each other during their first five minutes under the inconspicuous umbrella cover, they discussed the dilemma they were in. 'We'll have to elope,' Niranjan said glumly.