Nectar in a Sieve by Kamala Markandaya-Online Book Summary |
Ruku and Nathan name their daughter Irawaddy after an important river although she is soon nicknamed Ira. At first Nathan is not interested in Ira as she is a girl, but soon he is taken in by her charms. Despite the fact that neither Ruku nor Nathan are blessed with good looks, Ira is a beautiful little girl and grows quickly.
Life continues well for Ruku and Nathan who remain busy with their crops and home. Ruku notes her visits with her mother become more infrequent as her responsibilities as a wife and mother grow.
Kunthiís strange attitude towards Ruku appears here again. Although Ruku tries to comfort her, Kunthi seems agitated or annoyed by Rukuís presence. For now, Ruku remains at a loss as to what this behavior might mean.
Nathanís care of the newly pregnant Ruku is apparent in both his annoyance at her long stay with Kunthi and his insistence that she not help in the fields. This was somewhat unusual, as women often worked at heavy labor right up until giving birth. But Nathan feels his wife is special and treats her accordingly.
Rukuís ability to read and write is very unusual for a rural villager and even more so for a woman. Rukuís mother and Kali hold the attitude of many that a woman has no time for reading and writing when she has a home and children to tend to. However, Rukuís father was forward thinking and thought that this skill was the least he could give to his youngest child as he had little to give for her dowry. Most husbands in Nathanís position would have allowed their shame at having a wife more learned than they to cause them to put a stop to her practice. Instead, Nathan expresses his pride in having a ďcleverĒ wife and encourages Ruku to continue. Once again, Nathan shows his true care and consideration for Ruku as it was within his rights as her husband to force her to stop if he wanted. Ruku understands and appreciates ďwhat it costĒ Nathan to allow her to continue and the bond between the two grow.
Rukuís wonder at the growth of her garden shows her appreciation of the simple miracles of life. The episode with the cobra demonstrates Nathanís practical side - although the cobra is a sacred animal in India, he kills it in order to protect his wife.
The birth of her first child should have been a joyous occasion for Ruku; however, the baby was a girl. In India, boys were far more valued than girls, especially as the firstborn. Rukuís initial disappointment soon gives way to pride and joy; the baby is blessed with beauty and a charming personality. Nathan, too, gives in to the babyís charms again showing his somewhat unusual male behavior. In naming the baby Irawaddy, after a river, Ruku and Nathan acknowledge the importance of water in their lives. As we will soon see, water is the one thing they cannot survive without.
As time passes, Ruku becomes more and more at home with Nathan and slowly grows apart from her family, as it is difficult to travel the distance that separates them. Although this saddens her, she is happy and satisfied with her life with Nathan and Ira.
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Sinclair, Meredith. "TheBestNotes on Nectar in a Sieve".
. 09 May 2017