Publishing year: 2011
This novel starts with the tsunami in the Indian coast in December, 2004.
Two Indian sisters, Ahalaya (17) and Sita (15) are walking on the beach with her parents when the big wave drowns everything. Fortunately, they manage to survive as they clutch onto trees. Yet, her parents aren’t that lucky, and the girls find their corpses, and when they return home, they also find their grandmother and housekeeper dead. Ahalaya and Sita only have relatives in New Delhi, but that’s too far from where they are. They call Sister Naomi, who runs the convent school which they attend, and she tells them to try to reach the school. The school is not in the same town, and they walk to the next town, hoping to hitch a ride. Yet, everything is in chaos.
Ahalaya recognizes a man who his father knew, and the man promises he’ll help them. As soon as the man appears with somebody with a truck, I had the suspicion something weird was going on. Ahalaya’s father’s acquaintance is dropped off in some town, and the girls continue, but the man doesn’t drive in the direction they want, and then he stops at a delapidated quarter and they are surrounded by some men. The driver and one of the men exchange money as if this man was selling them. The girls are forced to enter a flat where they are even drugged, and the following morning they are threatened and moved to a train.
I’m not sure what is happening to these girls. I was afraid these men would rape them, but thankfully, that hasn’t happened. It seems that they have kidnapped them for some reason. Why have they abducted them, and where are they taking these girls?
Apart from the girls, there is a second plotline. An American lawyer, Thomas Clarke, is going through a rough patch. His wife, Priya, has left him after they lost the little girl they had. Thomas is in a bad place, and he hasn’t even told many people that his wife has left him. He has even let himself be sexually comforted by one of the junior lawyers in the firm, Tera Etwood. Yet, he feels guilty and the comfort he hoped to find isn’t such. Something happens to Thomas while he’s travelling to his parents’ place; a ten-year-old girl is kidnapped in the park he’s stopped at to have a bite. Thomas tries to follow the couple who take the girl, but the car has disappeared. When Thomas tells his father about it, the older man mentions Fort Gragg and something to do with sexual trade. I wonder if this girl is facing the same destiny that the Indian girls are also about to find. Will Ahalaya and her sister end up in America?