Like her neighbors, Rukmani will become completely absorbed in the concerns of running a household and raising children; however, unlike them, Rukmani will react to events around her with insight and thoughtfulness. She also reveals to Ruku that Nathan had built their hut with his own hands and had spent weeks excitedly preparing for her arrival. He progressively grows weaker, beginning to starve. Written by Kamala Markandaya, the author was raised in a middle class family which gave her many opportunities for travel and a higher education. Her family was very concerned with picking a husband because they wanted her to be as happy as possible with the small dowry they had.
Rukmani even held her husband as he died, suffering through immense amounts of grief and sorrow. Child marriage was very common in India and girls younger than Ruku often found themselves as brides. When she returns to Nathan at the temple, she expects him to be angry, but instead he is violently ill. Nathan shows her a handful of rice from the storeroom. Kali and Janaki, who are older and experienced, help Ruku to learn her duties as a wife. After she learns Nathan built the hut himself and eagerly awaited her arrival, she feels even more ashamed of her reaction; now she feels pride because of his love for her.
Nathan watches Rukmani write, leaves to ruminate on it, and then returns, stroking her hair and praising her for her cleverness. Notes Ruku tells the story in the novel through first person point of view. In this period of her life, Rukmani is deeply content. Irawaddy starts to sing and cry, but Rukmani numbly tells her to stop and preserve her strength. A dowry which might consist of money, land, livestock or other goods was necessary to secure a husband. Nectar in a Sieve is a powerful, moving narrative highlighting the struggles and prosperity of one woman as she strives to hold tightly on to tradition in her rapidly shifting world.
Whenever bedrock is exposed, it weathers. He enjoys being happy and carefree in Deepavali, but also shows immense anger shown when he curses several people and throws Rukmani off of Ira. Her opening statements foreshadow some of the events to come: the death of her husband, her adoption of Puli who suffers from disease, and the work of Kenny and her son Selvam in building a hospital. He helps them learn to break stones, and they come to rely on him. The pumpkin Ruku proudly presents to Nathan is treated with great reverence. Ruku recalls also her ignorance of the basics of running her household. Nathan, in turn, demurs modestly when Rukmani confronts him about why he never told her that this house was his own handiwork.
One evening, Rukmani splurges on extra food and toys for Puli and her grandson. Money is vital for sustaining the constant basic needs of food and water. In each case, Rukmani gets stronger because of her devotion to truth, and at the same time she exhibits the Hindu belief that truth transcends all other moral values. When she asks if he is happy with her, he always nods. The other man looks appalled, but Rukmani just nods. She tells Rukmani that he built their hut with his own hands, allowing no one to help. Kunthi, a neighborhood wife who became a prostitute, spreads this rumor out of spite.
Many of these hardships are to do with poverty, and how poverty can affect and change people. What is meant by denudation? Ruku´s child innocence about the truth of things is shown when she thinks that due to her fathers position as headman, she will have a grand wedding. Rukmani must divide the rice she has into portions just to sustain her family for about a month. Erosion- is the detachment, removal and transportation of fragmented rock material. They return to the temple, where food is distributed each night to the destitute. After the wedding ceremony, Ruku and her new husband travel by bullock cart to her new home in his village.
At the end of the chapter, Ruku talks about the large amounts of food and hope, which could also foreshadow the problems with food and hope later in the book. Kenny demands that she rethink her preconceptions about distrusting strangers, suffering passively, and taking action against injustice. At the time of her marriage, she was twelve. After briefly mentioning the people important to her, such as her now dead husband, her son and daughter, Puli and Kenny, she begins to tell the story of her life in a flashback. Rukmani sacrifices her savings to buy food for the family. The first man reiterates that the tannery is not responsible and Rukmani can hope for no compensation.
In Nectar in a Sieve, hunger breeds thieves, prostitutes, murderers, and subhuman beasts. The grains are fat and bountiful, and Nathan declares that with harvests like this, Rukmani can have anything she wants. She is energetic and good-natured, too, and entertains herself while her parents go about their domestic and rural duties. They help the family a great deal with their wages but are eventually dismissed for being ringleaders in a labor strike. Ruku treasures this knowledge and asks Nathan about it after they are married for a while. She begins to tell us her story. Aside from a few brief paragraphs, the novel is told as a flashback - Ruku is recalling the many events of her life.