In 1933 in the village of Karnak in Luxor, a woman lives with her sick husband who is paralyzed and infected with TB. They live with their daughter Fahima and son Mustafa, who goes to Sudan in search of a living. After her father's death, Fahima is married off to a man who turns out to be impotent. Her mother then resorts to visiting various temples in hopes that her daughter will be able to bear a child. Fahima's mother mixes her faith with corruption at a temple and finally Fahima gives birth to a baby girl named Farhana. Fahima's husband does not accept the child as his own, and Fahima and her daughter return to her mother's house, in hopes of making ends meet and the family prays for the safe return of their son.