A note for Indian readers: I picked up the story seeing an Indian author's name on cover. But while reading, I kept getting the impression that it's primarily targeted at western audiences, even though much of the story is set in Calcutta.
Story summary.Story starts off with a historical fact - Ronald Ross, an Englishman born in India who made a medical discovery that won him a Nobel prize: that malaria is transmitted to humans via mosquitoes. Most of his research was done as a colonial officer in India, last part of it in Calcutta.
The story treats this medical discovery as part of a conspiracy. There is a secret sect of "Silence" worshipers in India who've already discovered some things about malaria & mosquitoes. But their main interest is immortality: there is a generally unknown human chromosome, the "Calcutta chromosome", that is found only in brain cells & that encodes whatever makes you you.
And these guys are trying to figure out a way of transmitting this identity so you can continue living in another body by consciously infecting that body (with a variant of malaria). And they kept nudging Ross in the right direction at critical points because, unknowingly, he was solving one of their immortality problems.
Fact sheet.First published: 1995.