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Rediscovering Indian Authors: Nectar In A Seive by Kamala Markandaya

Nectar in a Sieve" is set in rural India and follows the life of Rukmani, a simple village woman. She marries Nathan, a farmer, and together they strive to make a living from their small plot of land. However, their life becomes increasingly difficult as they face numerous challenges, including droughts, floods, and the encroachment of industrialization.

"Yet it is only the weak who are cruel. Gentleness can only be expected from the strong."

This book is a type that you come across one amazing day and then, as you turn the pages, you realise what a lucky person you are to grab your hands on this one. 

My heart aches for Rukmani, Nathan and every other peasant in the 19s era who had to face British oppression which shattered their small, sweet-salty life and turned it into misery. It helped me go years back and experience all of it, again. 

Rukmani and Nathan's resilience is tested as they struggle to provide for their family amidst these hardships. Rukmani's life is also impacted by the changing dynamics of her family, the village, and society at large. She forms close bonds with other women, and her relationships with her children evolve as they grow and face their own struggles.


The novel touches on various themes, including the impact of modernization on traditional ways of life, the resilience of individuals in the face of adversity, the strength of familial bonds, and the complexities of human relationships. Through Rukmani's perspective, the author paints a vivid picture of rural life in India during a time of significant change.

I won't write about the narration or style of writing, because it's just so heart touchingly beautiful, it goes without saying. Instead, I am going to show why you should read this one. 

This beautiful gem by the author covers the life of Rukmani from birth to death. It narrates us all the happy, sad, dark, bright incidents that happened in her life as a merchants daughter, farmer's wife, and a mother of six children. She lived a happy going life, until the Britishers caught an eye on their small village and started their factories there. The way her family's and every villagers hardship has been dictated, during the droughts and the storms, during the good harvest season, when they have ample food to eat, to the days when they slept with an empty stomach for days. It broke me inside and I realised what a lucky person I am to have everything on a silver platter for me. 

As the title suggests, "Nectar in a Sieve" reflects the idea that life's sweetness can be found even in the midst of challenges and difficulties, much like nectar collected in a sieve. The novel portrays the bittersweet nature of life, where moments of joy and contentment are intertwined with struggles and hardships. It is a must read for today's Gen-Z to gain a better insight on colonial India. 

"In a moment I knew that I was beaten. There is no counting the losses, if a man lets his mind dwell on what he has lost, he broods. And brooding only deepens the wound."


The ending totally shook me up, and I just couldn't grasp how these people had to move on from every tragedy quickly because they had no time to haste. How they had to become strong for their families. And just live on hope. That tomorrow would be different. 

I think everyone, especially Indians should definitely read this one. Only then, we'll come to know what our ancestors had to go through to survive for living. 


"For life in its infinite variety had played upon us, and we had made the best of it, been content and dutiful, even if now and again it was a little hard to bear."

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