After Kuti’s death, the rice ripens “with a bland indifference that mocked our loss,” producing a better crop than was expected. Despite their weakness, the family works for days draining the fields and harvesting the rice. When they finish, they look at each other’s sweaty, emaciated bodies and laugh in helpless and hysterical relief.
Initially a benevolent provider, the land now seems almost malicious, conspiring to cause Kuti’s death. The famine marks a major loss of faith in the agricultural system, for Rukmani if not for Nathan.
With the bountiful harvest, Nathan plans to pay the missing rent and plant vegetables. The family begins to plan for the future, even though their minds still dwell on the painful past.
The family’s resilience after the death of two sons is remarkable but also necessary, since they need to start accruing more food reserves.
Rukmani reflects that while planting “disciplines the body” and watching crops grow “uplifts the spirit,” the harvest provides a “rich satisfaction” that nothing else can equal. She loves feeling the rice she has raised spill into her hands, and knowing that it will provide for her family during the coming months. Later, she goes to the temple to pray, feeling deeply grateful.
It’s remarkable that Rukmani is capable of gratitude after the painful tragedies she’s just experienced. This shows the extent to which she’s acclimated to a life of suffering, as well as the optimism that is deeply ingrained in her character.