Nectar in a Sieve | Study Guide

Kamala Markandaya

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Nectar in a Sieve | Part 1, Chapter 5 | Summary



One afternoon while collecting dung in the fields, Rukmani sees Kennington in the distance. She has not seen the doctor in many years and rushes to offer him her thanks for the five sons she bore since he offered his treatment. During their conversation, Kenny bristles when Rukmani calls him "my lord, my benefactor," saying not to call him that nor blame him for her "excesses." However, Kenny accepts Rukmani's offer and visits her home. Rukmani worries whether Kenny will let slip, in front of Nathan, that he treated her, but he does not. Rukmani delights in Kenny's kind words toward her and his compliments on Irawaddy's cooking. Kenny visits the family often after that, even bringing milk for the young children when he learns Rukmani had to sell her goat.


Kennington emerges as a true benefactor for Rukmani and her family, even though he scolds Rukmani for calling him benefactor and lord in this chapter. Not only does he treat her fertility, he helps support the family when they must sell their goat. Admittedly, he does so to prevent Rukmani from continuing to nurse her son past weaning age, but his gifts are nevertheless kind. Kenny and Rukmani's culture clash continues to develop in this chapter, as Rukmani delights in having given birth to five sons despite not having enough money to feed them while Kenny cringes at the "excess" of so many children.

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