Review: Nectar in a Sieve

Nectar in a Sieve is the story of Rukmani the village headman’s daughter. It traces her life as she marries a farmer Nathan, raises crops and vegetable, has children. The book shows how farmer’s lives are affected by nature, how floods can destroy their crop . Drought also leads to starvation, as small farmers do not have any other source of income. The construction of a tannery leads to an increase in employment opportunities, but after some time, the workers go on a strike protesting against the perceived unfair wages. Due to the lack of opportunities, her elder son’s are forced to migrate . Later, when the land they are cultivating is sold to the tannery, they are again forced to look for other opportunities. They learn to earn money by breaking stones, and they are paid according to the volume of work they do. This book offers a glimpse of the limited opportunities available in post independence India.

Nectar in a sieve
by Kamal Markandaya
First published in 1954
Published in 2009