Author: Kalpana Swaminathan
A dark and affecting tale about the turbulence of growing up, the many worlds we inhabit and the secret lives we live Fifteen-year-old Tenral leads two lives. There is the one she leads with her family and her friends at school—'a skin-of-milk life, easy and forgiving, like five o'clock sunshine'. Into her other, difficult life, move her English teacher, Mrs Alfie, and her dead lover. Tenral recreates their romance, taking her clues from Mrs Alfie's dramatic rendering of poetry, and tries to reconcile the past with the present through her own fairytales. Even as her friends look on, disapproving of her flights of fancy, Tenral's complex imaginary world widens to include the dour Maths teacher, Mr Tilak, and Mrs Alfie's mad mother who spills the secret about Mrs Alfie's navy blue baby . . . Events hurtle towards a frightening climax as Mrs Alfie emerges from Tenral's world of make-believe to reveal the truth. Tenral can reject this truth, and escape into her world of fantasy. Or she can embrace real life with its hardships and disappointments, in the hope that in the end it is all worthwhile, for there is always ambrosia for afters.