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Date QW Written: December 2, 2014
In Indian religion and philosophy, suffering and refusing to ask for aid is a way to cleanse the soul. Throughout Nectar in a Sieve, both Rukmani and Kenny clash in their opinions on this aspect of Indian life with their Eastern and Western philosophy respectively. Rukmani claims, “…we are taught to bear our sorrows in silence, and all this is so that the soul may be cleansed” (Markandaya 116) when Kenny calls her a hypocrite in “thinking spiritual grace comes from being in want” (Markandaya 116). Despite Kenny’s reprimands, Rukmani continuously believes in the Indian philosophy because of what she was taught and her pride. For example, Rukmani constantly places her life in God’s or Fate’s hand in times of suffering and refuses to cry out for help because she believes it is pitiful and is useless if people are not guaranteed to help.
In contrast, Kenny believes that the only way to gain aid is to ask for it. Kenny acts on what he preaches by appealing to the wealthier people in his country to financially support him in building a hospital in Rukmani’s town.
I believe Kenny was right with his western philosophy. This fact is obvious when one sees that in this story, it is the West that is able to provide for the East. Kenny was right in believing that nobody can help those in need if those in need do not ask for help. Despite the noble ideals Rukmani encompasses, there are times when one cannot eliminate suffering on his or her own. If Rukmani had listened to Kenny’s advice, her story would have ended much differently.