The time is immediately before World War II. The place a remote village in Bengal. Priyanath, a middle aged man and the last offspring of a once wealthy family, gets married to a lovely teenage girl to please his widowed mother. Overcoming the initial inhibitions, he starts enjoying the happiness of a normal married life.
Life continues to be a struggle for Priyanath. He earns a livelihood by hawking motley wares in the local trains. One day, when he is away with his wife Malati to a village fair, a violent storm brings down the roof in his mother’s room and kills her. Priyanath loses his job too for not keeping up with the younger hawkers. The couple is exposed to the events happening outside. The war comes and brings famine in its wake. There is a mass exodus from the village but Priyanath refuses to leave his home.
After three days of starvation, one day, when Priyanath finally manages to get some rice, he eats his food with an animal like greed without leaving anything for his wife. Malati can stand starvation, but cannot accept her husband’s new selfishness. Their relationship gets increasingly embittered. After another confrontation, Priyanath leaves home and finds his wife dead on return.
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