‘How do you, Ari, justify your education, your understanding? But most importantly, how do you justify your lack of ambition to change the way of things around you? What is the point of life, if not this?

‘Living with carefully cultivated nonchalance amidst the rough and tumble of Delhi’s journalistic world, Ari occasionally grapples with a desire to do more than just flirt with ideas and flog the words.

But he leads his life, inured to fights small and big, professional and ideological, awaiting fate, surrendering to the force of the flow of life, like a riverstone – supine in the riverbed, always facilitating persistent currents, never contesting them.

When a strange challenge thrown by his former professor and mentor hurts Ari deeply, he knows it is the pain of his futility, the knowledge of his own wasted existence. Just when the latent fear of a meaningless life threatens to convince him of its reality, he finds himself caught in a tragic situation and loses a friend to mindless violence while fighting for a cause that is also dear to Ari. Driven by anger, discontent, loss and determination, Ari takes the place of his friend.

When the dust settles down, he discovers that for the first time in his life he is more than a mere spectator of events. He also discovers how prepared he is for this role and uses everything he has learnt in the past, everything he has observed and perceived, to achieve the goal. In the process, he also finds the answer to the question that his professor posed to him. And finds the real reason why he had asked it … a reason that would redefine Ari’s every relationship.

Paperback (2007)

Reprint (2016)
Penguin Random House India