‘She had given her husband four children, had bared her body and soul to him… why did he want to remarry? Today, what made him dress in a new silk kurta, become a bridegroom once again, and leave on elephant-back to take another woman as his wife?'
When Menoka's dissolute husband Mohikanto takes a second wife she is devastated by the heedless manner in which he squanders her unquestioning loyalty. But after the initial anguish she finds new strength – in her womanhood when she embraces a tender but illicit relationship with a village outcast; in her role as a fiercely protective mother, and, eventually, in a compassionate humanity towards her frail and battered co-wife and needy stepchildren. The story also poignantly explores Menoka's troubled but ultimately redemptive relationship with Indro, her firstborn son, who is unwittingly exposed to a bewildering world of adult complexities and feels compelled to leave the village.