For some time now, I have been plagued, perhaps blessed, by dreams of rivers and seas, dreams of water. Just days after controversial anthropologist Albert James writes these elusive lines to his son John, he is dead. Abandoning his girlfriend in London, John flies to Delhi to join his mother in mourning. But the nature of his father's research and the circumstances of his death are far from clear and, on top of this, John must confront his mother's coolness, and the strangeness of the cremation ceremony that she has organised for his father. No sooner is the body consigned to the flames than a journalist arrives, determined to write a biography of the dead man, and though his mother will have nothing to do with the project, she cannot keep away from the journalist.