Undilute East had always been too much for the West; and soulful East
always came lap-dog fashion to the West, mutually asking to be not too
little and not too much, but just right. (Prasad 37)
The struggle of individuals caught between tradition and modernity, or between
India and the west, is a very common theme in Indian literature. This struggle is evident
in Nectar in a Sieve, as Rukmani often finds herself battling between her traditional
views and opinions, and the various modern forces that seem to be taking over her life.
On the one hand, Rukmani yearns for the traditional way of life she has always known
and loved, while at certain times she acknowledges the benefits modernity can bring. In
contrast, in The Painter of Signs, Daisy is the symbol of modernity as she does her best to
fight against traditional ways of life; however, she is met with opposition by people who
adhere to a more traditional lifestyle.
The conflict between tradition and modernity becomes a force in Rukmani's life
even when she is a young girl. Rukmani's father is the headman of their village, which
gives her family prestige. This prestige allows for Rukmani's elder sisters to have grand
weddings and marry fittingly. However, with the abolition of zamindari system, "the
headman of the village was no longer of consequence" (Srivastava 9). Because of this,
Rukmani was without a dowry, and had to be married off below the family status, to a
tenant farmer "who was poor in everything but in love and care for [Rukmani]"
After Rukmani has her first child, a daughter named Irawaddy, she does not
conceive again for about seven years. This is tragic because in Indian culture it is very
important to have many children, especially sons (Srivastava 14). During this time,
Rukmani's mother takes her to a temple and together they pray before the deity
"imploring for help" to conceive sons... [continues]
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