Have you ever felt desperate for something, so desperate that you would do anything to have it, to hold it in your hands?

To Vidya, a college education is like a shiny, bright diamond. So valuable, yet just out of her grasp.  In the midst of India fighting for its independence from the British, college is a faint dream on the horizon. At least, for a girl.

Climbing the Stairs by Padma Venkatraman-200x308

a college education is like a shiny, bright diamond. So valuable, yet just out of her grasp.  In the midst of India fighting for its independence from the British, college is a faint dream on the horizon. At least, for a girl.Just as Vidya comes a step closer to meeting her goal, something horrible ensues. Her father, a doctor and a freedom fighter for India, was bludgeoned badly in attempts to save a wounded woman. He is now a shell of himself, recognizes no one, and cannot murmur encouraging words to Vidya.

So Vidya moves to the traditional house of her grandfather and relatives, and begins to live the life of every girl before her. She will cook, clean, finish grade school, and then hurriedly be married off. Vidya cannot stand that possibility. So she wanders up the stairs into the place that is forbidden to her: the library.

Through her life of cleaning and serving the men is difficult, Vidya finds hope and happiness in the precious books in the library and a boy named Raman. An extended relative, Raman shares her beliefs about freedom, women’s rights, and important virtues. Soon it’s clear their bond is blossoming into something deeper. Should Vidya carve out her own path? Or follow the path already set by generations before her?