Mariam lives with her husband and four young children near a remote village in the steppes of Kazakhstan. One day, her husband disappears – soon thereafter, he is declared dead. However, since no body was found, Mariam is not eligible for state benefits. While she struggles to survive in her harsh highland surroundings, she also fights a running battle with the red tape of an absurd, inhumane bureaucracy. When she finally manages to have her husband declared officially dead, he suddenly shows up, quite alive, acting like nothing happened. This situation proves to be problematic, as one might imagine.