Little Hands of Silk – a novel by Ajay Vishwanathan.
Sample Chapter: Red Rain
The claps of thunder over the Mulberry Valley a few hours earlier had been unusually loud, like a hundred truck tires exploding in the sky at the same time. Then nothing. After a heavy pause, it sent down a burst of shocking red rain in slanting sheets. Leaves shriveled and cherry-colored liquid dripped from sleepy tree branches. The Factory walls shook like a rattled bell and its grounds were painted in deep red shades.
The blood-like downpour lasted less than five minutes and was seen only in random spots throughout the district. A hundred meters away, the rain was clear, refreshingly familiar. To those who ran out of their houses and looked around, it seemed only fitting that the Factory was one of the chosen targets.
Many silently thought it was a bad omen, while a few, like Thalli, did not shy away from announcing it. No one knew Thalli’s real name. The locals called her the crackpot who yelled the truth. Thalli didn’t have a house or a family, so she slept wherever she found room and survived on leftovers that people placed for her outside their homes. She roamed the villages, sometimes grumbling, other times chuckling to herself, in a torn blouse and an old jute bag wrapped around herself like a gown. Her hair was snipped awfully as if she had done it herself with a sickle.
Ever since the red rains had halted, Thalli had been roaming the neighborhood weeping uncontrollably. Suddenly, she would stop to bang on people’s doors.
“Be warned!” she yelled. “Terrible things are going to happen! The Factory is evil! The skies have spoken!”