'Who Can I Turn To?' is an autobiographical account of a daughter who survived being treated by her family as an outsider and as a domestic servant, in stark contrast to her siblings.. She is physically and psychologically abused, with often life threatening consequences. She eventually overcomes these setbacks to become a brave, adventurous woman working to promote the welfare of the poor.
Her plight is due to the horoscope provided by an astrologer, advising that her birth was bad luck for the family. In Sri Lanka and in other South Asian countries it is believed the birth time decides the destination of a child and that the horoscope is able to predict it.
The book is also an account of growing up in post-independence Ceylon in the 60s and 70s, a turbulent period leading up to the declaration of the 'Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka' in 1972.
The infant Tamara dreams of escaping. The teenage Tamara vows to find a way out to a new and better life. And as a young adult she finally manages to leave Sri Lanka, fleeing in desperation, with no money, no friends and no idea what might await her. Divorced from the debilitating influence of her family, she creates a new life for herself.
She survives twenty one years of deprivation, humiliation, constant hunger, overwork, and torture because her mother blamed her for the misfortunes that befell the family in the period following her birth. She lived an often precarious double life. She was a servant within the family, and the target of every kind of taunt and ill treatment from her mother and, encouraged by her, from her siblings too. But she hid her private life from the many people outside her immediate family who recognised and appreciated her many excellent intellectual and moral qualities.
Her greatest solace was her grandmother, who although unable to influence her mother's treatment of her, nevertheless demonstrated her sympathy, provided comfort, and encouraged her to have the confidence that there could be a brighter future awaiting her. The death of her grandmother when Tamara was twenty was a terrible blow that finally lead to her feeling that she had no reason to stay and to be willing to risk any uncertainty in order to escape.