Study Guide

Nectar in a Sieve Chapter 6

By Kamala Markandaya

Chapter 6

  • Irawaddy is fourteen, two years older than Rukmani was when she married. Rukmani can no longer put off the girl’s wedding, and begins to look for a suitable matchmaker. She chooses Old Granny, who is old and experienced in such matters. Though Rukmani has not done business with Old Granny for years, the old woman bears her no grudge and is happy to help.
  • Because Rukmani’s family is not well-off, Ruku worries they’ll not be able to find a suitable match for Ira. They can only afford a dowry of 100 rupees. Their daughter is beautiful, though, and this is worth a lot. Old Granny is able to find a handsome young man who is sole heir to his father’s generous portion of land.
  • Ira is agrees to the marriage, but she is clearly wistful. Though Ruku is happy that she’s found a good match, she can’t help but reflect on her own marriage as a young girl. Ruku knows that Ira will have to bear the pain of separation, and the jolt of a new place. Still, Ruku promises to visit her daughter two or three times a year.
  • The wedding is a joyous celebration of food and music, though Nathan insists on having nothing they can’t afford easily, as he hates the idea of debts. Rukmani has put aside a fair share of delicacies she’s been saving up month by month for the occasion. Still, there’s a reminder of hard times when she sees her son Arjun with a little bundle. He’s not eating heartily at the feast itself, but has hoarded a little bit for later.
  • Ira looks younger than her years in her makeup and her mother’s red wedding sari. She looks frightened by the whole affair, especially when the time comes for her to depart with her new husband. A happy crowd lifts her and her husband into the air, decking them with flower garlands and good wishes.
  • After Ira leaves, the crowd melts and the clamor dies down. Ruku returns to her home. There is work to be done tomorrow, mending and cleaning, but as Ruku returns to her husband’s side for the night, she lays awake, thinking. It is the first night her daughter has not slept under their roof.