Rukmani is dazed by grief, but she slowly begins to proceed with her life again. The one person who helps her through this time is Puli. Although she doesn’t quite remember the arguments she used, eventually she persuades him to accompany her home, where Kenny and Selvam can treat his leprosy.
As always, it’s family bonds—whether biological or adopted—that help Rukmani through moments of tragedy. Actively deciding to seek out Kenny’s help, she’s admitting that not all suffering should be accepted, and validating some of her friend’s ideas.
After a long journey by cart, Rukmani and Puli reach her own village. She is overjoyed to feel the familiar earth under her; the horrific months in the city are already melting away.
Although the novel is deeply skeptical of the benefits of rural poverty, it still respects and validates Rukmani’s deep emotional attachment to the countryside.
From the hospital building, still unfinished, Selvam rushes out to embrace her. Soon, Irawaddy and Sacrabani join. Rukmani introduces Puli as her son, explaining that she and Nathan have adopted him.
Although the novel is permeated by tragedy, it ends on a moment of familial solidarity, reminding the reader that family provides the central joys of Rukmani’s life.
Irawaddy takes Puli in her arms, promising him food and a rest. Selvam assures Rukmani that even with his small wages they will manage to survive. He understands that Nathan has died, even though Rukmani has said nothing. She tells him that it was “a gentle passing,” and they walk home in silence.
The family remains materially poor, but it seems like Rukmani’s days of desperate suffering are over. By ending on a note of tranquility, the novel implicitly argues that people should strive to alter their circumstances in order to prevent or alleviate suffering as much as possible, even if the only way they can do so is by maintaining emotional strength through strong family bonds.