Nina is thirty year old, lives in the typical Indian society. The novel gives the minute details of thirty-year-old spinster Nina,
Friend and colleague consoled her by remarking on her radiant complexion and jet black hair but such comfort was cold. Ninas skin knew it was thirty, broadcasting the fact at certain angles in front of the mirror. Her spirit felt sixty as she walked from the bus stop to the single room where she lived with her mother. Her heart felt a hundred as it surveyed the many years of hopeless longing it had known. (TI 1)
Nina supports her mother because she is only earning source in her family. Shankar died at the age of forty five because of the sudden cardiac disease. Nina imagines that her father had believed in the bright future, retirement, and the beautiful house he was going to buy in the South Delhi Colony. But Shankar died without leaving anything to his family members.
Shanti and Nina have force to move to her grandparent house in Lucknow. Ninas mother fails to provide a well-adjusted, happy, and healthy environment, Nina hated the atmosphere she found herself in. She hated Lucknow, her grandparents house and Loreto Convent (TI 5). Man alone does not exposure his patriarchal attitude towards woman but woman also exhibit her patriarchal attitude towards woman, Shankars mother shows her patriarchal attitude towards her daughter-in-law.
Shanti tolerates many tortures from her in-laws in order to educate her daughter because she has no ways of earning to survive she has to overcome all the pessimistic comments, The grandmother resented her daughter-in-laws existence, Nina resented her mothers meekness, the mother put up with everything because Ninas security depended on her patience (TI 5). Her mother belongs to the conversational Indian woman who never thinks to live in an independent way. Shanti always needs support from her family members.
In the male-oriented society, man permits woman to educate but they do not give rights to go outside and holds a job. If she wants to go beyond the border of home is viewed to be inappropriate one. The home is really an inland space for every woman even for Nina and her mother. On the contrary, she is forced to go out and take up a job as an English lecturer at Miranda House where she studied. She feels frustrated with the impoverished life which she is leading in her grandmother house.
She decides to earn money and brings her mother to live with her in diminutive apartment at Jangpura extension in New Delhi, In Delhi, Nina hoped her mother would lead a fuller life. In Delhi the mother imagined a husband could be found who would give her darling the home she deserved (TI 5). In her life her mother is her only hope. Now Nina is leading an independent life and she is financially self-reliant. Every Indian mother wants their daughter will have a good groom and have a good family environment. Shanti is looking for a groom for her daughter so that she is free from all her responsibilities.
In the typical Indian society there is no identity for women, they have to marry then only society considered women as being. If a woman is against on her marriage the society will creates a pessimistic circumstances in her life. The male-oriented society never gives her rights to take her firm decision. Obviously she is a portion of this circumstance. She goes to New Delhi for her higher education. The discussion about her marriage goes on.
During her higher studies Nina has fallen in love with Rahul. He is fifteen years older than her, he is a professor in the English department at the arts faculty. When the relationship develops, Nina starts to love him. She offers her heart expects in return she imagines that the combined forces of love and devotion will persuade them into married life. She never reveals her love to her mother because in the Indian community, arranged marriages are always acceptable and love marriages are viewed as the social crime and also considered as an act of degradation. Many Indians notion is that arranged marriages are more favourable outcome than love marriages. She seriously thinks and hesitates to say about her love to her mother. She is force to keep her emotions inside her heart.
She reveals her love to Rahul but he made it clear that he does not love her. She understands that she also become a cake for Rahul who eats it too like all cakes this one was chewed mashed into pulp and swallowed (TI 4). Her self-respect finally forces her to choose loneliness over compromises. Silently she grieves because she loses her lover. She feels hurt and lonely. Her mother does not know anything about the anguish of her daughter. After many days, she encounters the pain of isolation. She feels the loss of her supportive father, and also she gets anguish about her widowed mother. Both of them miss a strong patriarchal support which leads their life misery. She says If papa were alive, we would not be here. Nice way to spend my birthday (TI 10).