Amma Bi is an elderly widow who lives alone in her deserted family haveli in Lucknow. Her only companion is a dishevelled young servant who comes twice a day. Every afternoon, Amma Bi hears the sound of footsteps on the stairs and her heart fills with panic. Every afternoon, she peeks out the door but no one is there. After considering a move to an old peoples’ home, the anxious Amma Bi ends up taking in a lodger, a young woman named Sabiha, with a mysterious occupation and a winsome personality. When Sabiha’s secret is revealed, Amma Bi discovers reserves of ingenuity, skill and love she never knew she had, and what started out as a haunted-haveli tale turns into a heart-warming one about aging, self-discovery and female bonding.
In Dopheri, his first novel, Pankaj Kapur emerges fully-formed as a storyteller of great charm, keen observation, subtle humour and quiet power.