Violet Stoneham, an Anglo-Indian woman lives in a small one bedroom house in 36 Chowringhee Lane with her cat, Sir Toby. She teaches schoolchildren English literature, primarily Shakespeare. She follows a set daily routine, visiting her brother Eddie every Thursday in his old age home. Her niece Rosemary, who moved to Australia after her marriage, often writes to her and asks her to join her there.
One day, she runs into her erstwhile students, Nandita and Bijoya, both of whom are now adults. Later, Violet meets Nandita again, this time with her boyfriend Samaresh Maitra. She invites them home for a cup of coffee. Soon, Samaresh starts visiting her home to write his novel in peace. Her flat also becomes a safe haven for the couple. The lonely Violet finally feels at home again in their company.
Eddie passes away, Violet’s friend moves to Canada and Nandita and Samaresh get married. Violet gifts them a gramophone they were always fascinated with. One day, she goes to visit the newlyweds. They are on their way out, and unable to stay long, Violet hands them Rosemary’s old records. They plan to meet again for Christmas. When Christmas arrives, Violet calls them to give them the cake she promised them, but they tell her they are out of town. She bakes the cake nonetheless. When she drops it at their house, she is surprised to see a party in full-swing. Saddened by their deception, she returns to Victoria Memorial, where the three had often spent time before. Her loneliness weighs down upon her. Considering moving away to live with Rosemary, Violet walks home with a sinking feeling.