Book Review – Nectar in Sieve !

by Shabdita Shrivastav

Nectar in Sieve is a novel written by Kamala Markandaya. This is her first novel which was first published in 1954. This book reflects the representation of modern India and also talks about human tragedy.

Nectar in sieve is a story about Rukmani a daughter of a headman in rural India who gets married at the age of twelve to Nathan a land less farmer. Their life though is poor as far as materialistic things are concerned but they live adequately. They grow vegetables and rice and feed the family. Rukmani gives birth to six children but as years pass by she losses everything dear to her. Rukmani with her husband constantly faces the battles against poverty and hardship but still stand by each other. At this time the British have come and want to set up an industry in the village. And a tannery moves into their village. Rukmani is now scared that though the tannery will give them jobs it will take away their land and livelihood. She loses her sons to the tannery who themselves are reliant that the mother earth will provide them with food.

At this point Nathan and Rukhmani lose their land due to monsoons and draught and they also suffer from hunger and disease. Eventually they decide to leave their village and go to the city. There they end up living as beggars in the temple. Nectar in sieve is more about love than the hardship and their strength and determination .Nathan dies from exhaustion of working in the city. One of her sons dies because of starvation and another gets murdered and the other sons insist working in the city to earn money. Rukhmani decides to return back to her land and narrates her story to an old woman.
Towards the end she is living with her one son who decided to live in the village as trainee to a British doctor who opens a hospital for the villagers. Rukmani’s daughter also lives with her and works as a prostitute to feed herself and her albino son and an undernourished boy who Rukmani met in the temple and asked to come with her for he will have a better health.
The story line of the book is tragic but talk’s volumes about human spirit. The writing of the author is very beautiful and heart touching. The author with the writing will make you move to tears and at the same time relate to the characters. Though this book was written century ago it is still worth reading.


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