Raised in Tollygunge in Calcutta, brothers Subhash and Udayan are inseparable; they find joy in fixing and listening to radios, learning Morse Code, and looking out for each other at school. When they leave home for university studies, their ideologies are challenged; Udayan embraces the Naxalite Movement while Subhash is more interested in further education in preparation for his career and leaves for graduate studies in Rhode Island. Subhash learns that despite the massive bloodshed as a result of the Naxalite Movement, all attention from the press is focused on the Vietnam War; this becomes crystal clear to him when his roommate Richard, an earnest student activist, ignorantly remarks “Naxalbari? What’s that?” At the end of his first year in the United States, Subhash learns that Udayan has found a wife, Gauri.
Gauri, who meets Udayan through her brother, is at first apathetic to him. As time passes, however, they talk and trade ideas. Udayan tells of his days while Gauri discusses philosophy. Udayan proves his love for Gauri when he waits for her indefinitely outside a movie theater. Meanwhile, Subhash befriends Holly and her son Joshua, who he meets on a beach in Rhode Island. He learns that she is a single mother, separated from her husband Keith. They have sex one night while Joshua is at his father’s place.
Despite this, Subhash wonders at how Holly is able to be so calm when communicating with “someone who had hurt her” in Subhash’s mind; this is evident when Subhash notices how she is able to calmly relay Keith directions over the telephone on how to treat an ill Joshua who is in his care for the weekend. Holly ultimately decides to go back to Keith for Joshua’s sake. Shortly after beginning his third year, Subhash learns from his parents in a letter than Udayan has been killed.
Subhash returns to Calcutta to find Gauri staying with his parents, who do not treat her with respect. Gauri is pregnant with Udayan’s child. His mother Bijoli and his father plan to take the child and forsake Gauri. He asks what happened to Udayan but parents refuse to tell him but Gauri does tell him after initially offering some resistance. After successfully fleeing from the paramilitary police one night, the police come to his parents’ house. The police chief orders his parents and Gauri onto the street and threaten to kill them if Udayan does not surrender himself.
The police chief orders his parents and Gauri onto the street and threaten to kill them if Udayan does not surrender himself. Udayan, nearby in the water, surrenders and is subsequently shot and killed. In order to prevent his parents from taking custody of Gauri’s child and out of respect for Udayan, Subhash asks Gauri to marry him and to come and live with him in Rhode Island.