Suryakant Tripathi 'Nirala', the first modern Hindi poet of India, is all of sixteen and not conversant with the Khari Boli Hindi of the litterateurs yet when his father gets him married and sends him off to his in-laws' in Dalmau to fetch his bride. There he meets a strange man called Kulli Bhaat who claims descent from a family of bards and, despite his mother-in-law's reservations about Kulli's sexuality, Nirala finds himself drawn to Kulli. Then an influenza epidemic breaks out, claiming numerous lives, and Nirala's bereavement leaves him without mooring. Adrift on the boat of time, he seeks employment in various places but finds himself unable to stay away from Dalmau for long. Kulli, in the meanwhile, has taken a Muslim wife and become a champion of the untouchables. Set in pre-Independence India, A Life Misspent is as much the account of an unlikely friendship as it is a coming-of-age story. A memoir on the making of one of the greatest poets of all time.