Brinda is born in a traditional joint family, but behind the veneer of rmalcy lurks an enigmatic life. She has detailed memory of things that happened before her birth. Physical contact with her heals the sick, the rotten and the corrupt. Brutalised repeatedly, she only becomes more beautiful and remains inviolate, unable to achieve physical intimacy even with the man she loves. There comes a time when she is arrested without any charges and moved from prison to prison. But in a world where time and history are as fluid as her memory, she stays radiantly young while those around her age and decay. Both as witness and victim, she lives through the horrors of a society sliding into superstition and intolerance. Ultimately, she is subjected to a farcical trial where every aspect of her past is presented to the court in a dark, new light before a tragic conclusion. Once Upon a Time is Ashok Srinivasan's powerful debut vel and the successor to his prize-winning collection of short stories, Book of Common Signs. A multi-layered fairy tale for adults that comes close to some of the harshest cruelties of our times, it reconfirms the arrival of an important new writer on India's literary firmament.
Ashok Srinivasan's collection of short stories, Book of Common Signs, which was longlisted for the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award, went on to win The Hindu Prize 2014. His fiction has been compared to the works of Franz Kafka, Bruno Schulz and Haruki Murakami. Once Upon a Time is the story of the life of a feminine Christ figure.