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Nectar in a Sieve

Nectar in a Sieve


by Kamala Markandaya

Nectar in a Sieve Life, Consciousness, and Existence Quotes

How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)

Quote #1

While the sun shines on you and the fields are green and beautiful to the eye, and your husband sees beauty in you which no one has seen before, and you have a good store of grain laid away for hard times, a roof over you and a sweet stirring in your body, what more can a woman ask for? (1.39)

Here Rukmani describes her ideal life. She delights in simple pleasures, and her ranking of important things includes food to eat and the beauty of the land. A happy life is made up of countless external factors, and while Rukmani is grateful for many of them, she can endure with only a few if she must.

Quote #2

"You chatter like a pair of monkeys," said Kali’s husband, "with less sense. What use to talk of ‘exchange’ and so forth? Their life is theirs and yours is yours; neither change nor exchange is possible." (8.14)

Kali’s husband thinks that there’s no use in reflecting on and examining one’s life, especially not relative to other people’s. It’s interesting that while Ruku is usually on the side of passively accepting what life brings to her, she can still judge the lives of others. She pities the Muslim women locked up at home. Though she doesn’t understand them, they are actually in parallel situations, each having equally pitiable external circumstances over which they have no control.

Quote #3

"Whatever will they say?" I said, my face burning as he let me down again. "At our age too! You ought to be ashamed!"

"That I am not," he said, winking, to the vast delight of the onlookers. "I am happy because life is good and the children are good, and you are the best of all."

What more could I say after that? (10.17)

Nathan, like Ruku, sees life simply. He and his family are in the most joyous part of their lives, celebrating Deepavali together, and Nathan is overcome with emotion. His happiness doesn’t rely on material goods, but rather he sees life as the sum of a good family and a good wife above all. It makes sense, then, that even in darkest times, Nathan can be incredibly happy and loving with his wife. She is probably the most central part of his life.

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