Nectar in a Sieve is full of all different kinds of love. Family love, romantic love, love for children, and abstract philosophical love of life and land, are all central to the novel. The ability to endure throughout hardship is one of the most present motifs in the book, and often takes the form of love. Rukmani fears she cannot go on without her love, and when she comes back to her home, she has made peace with herself, likely inspired and comforted by her love for Puli and her children. An interesting note on family love – it’s not a guarantee that love and understanding follow from being related or married in this novel – a lot of the novel is about the genesis of love between people. Nathan and Ruku come to know each other, and Ruku comes to know Puli in a way that shows love is about the growth of relationships.
Selvam is the only one in the family who loves Sacrabani immediately and without reservation. Ira cries a lot, and Ruku and Nathan still have their doubts about the odd child. Ultimately, Selvam, who has sacrificed so much for the family and saves them all in the end, is the only character who understands the true meaning of unconditional family love.
Love is one of the most subtle and powerful, forces in the book. It isn’t spoken of explicitly, but it imbues nearly every choice made by the characters we meet. Its quiet presence makes it more powerful than a more concrete force.