Nectar in a Sieve by Kamala Markandaya-Online Book Summary |
Before they go, the doctor instructs them to have a meal with the servants. A man named Das and his wife welcome the tired couple warmly. Before the meal, Ruku goes to wash up and is baffled by the latrine she finds - the ways of the city are indeed foreign to her. Das and his wife tell Ruku the food is provided by the doctor, so she feels no guilt in sharing a meal with these kind people. They persuade Nathan and Ruku to stay the night and rest before trying to find their son the next day.
Ruku and Nathan once again fall victim to thieves. Ruku cannot imagine such dishonesty, especially in the temple, a holy place. Now the search for Murugan grows more desperate or they will be reduced to begging like the children they see playing in the filthy streets.
The beggar children strike Ruku as at once innocent and wise beyond their years. It is apparent they have had hard lives - they are dirty, hungry and experienced beggars - yet they still can play with the carefree air of children. Puli, their leader, is clever and a quick talker but, as Ruku notices, suffers from leprosy - a disease that literally eats away at the flesh. Ruku has always known poverty, but the poverty of the city seems harsher and more cruel as here there is no clear sky overhead or kind neighbors to help in your time of need.
The doctor proves quite a surprise. Life in the city is more advanced than in the rural villages; here women not only wear pants but also can become doctors - both things traditionally associated with males. Although they don’t find their son, Ruku and Nathan do finally find some kindness in the welcome from Das and his wife.
Ruku’s latrine experience illustrates yet another difference in city and country. Although many might consider the use of a latrine more “advanced” than using a hole by a river, Ruku finds it foul and unclean. She’s right too; with little sanitation and open sewers, poverty stricken cities are hotbeds of stench and disease.
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Sinclair, Meredith. "TheBestNotes on Nectar in a Sieve".
. 09 May 2017