When nine-year-old Ayman arrives in Hyderabad in the early 1960s to come and live at the Hussaini Alam House, she little realizes that the house, and its many inmates, will come to haunt her life and shape her destiny as she grows to become a woman.
The house is ruled over by her grandfather, a dignified despot, whom everyone but Ayman, her mother and sister, call ‘Sarkar’ (master). Her mother, ‘the eternal rebel,’ is irreverent, progressive and a communist: a bomb waiting to explode. Ayman herself alternates between being the ‘ugly duckling’ of the house and its little princess.
Huma Kidwai’s sensitive and vivid portraits of the characters who teem around the House, offer a window into the customs and mores of a traditional Hyderabadi Muslim family.