Study Guide

Nectar in a Sieve Chapter 10

By Kamala Markandaya

Chapter 10

  • It is time for Deepavali, the Festival of Lights, and the entire village is in a celebratory mood.
  • Flush with the new wealth of her sons’ work in the tannery, Rukmani indulges in the extravagance of fireworks. Her qualms about spending are calmed by the children’s joy.
  • They celebrate at home, eating well and playing with sparklers and fireworks. Soon their celebration moves to the town.
  • Selvam, Ruku’s youngest, is the most serious and stubborn of the boys. Frightened by the noise of the celebration, he stays behind at the house with Ira. (Ira has been trying to stay away from the town’s gossip, and seems happy to have the distraction and excuse of caring for her little brother.)
  • Rukmani describes the joy of the town’s bonfire. It seems that people are putting their differences behind them: the workers from the tannery are celebrating with the villagers. The women are covered in flowers and bangles, with silver rings on their toes, and everyone generally looks joyous.
  • Rukmani is captivated by the fiery crackle of the bonfire, and she loses herself in the crowd.
  • When she finally finds Nathan, he is prancing about joyously, carrying his sons on his shoulders and hips.
  • Ruku teases him that he’s mad with drink. Nathan insists that he hasn’t had a drop of alcohol, and hoists her joyously in the air, much to her embarrassed amusement. Nathan embraces the celebratory spirit and rejoices over his simple life, obedient children, and amazing wife.
  • That night, once they return to the calm of home, Nathan’s joy spills out into bed, and the two conceive their last child.