Kenny had been gone from the village for many months. What was the purpose of his trip?
In the novel, Kennington or Kenny is an English doctor. He eases the suffering of Rukmani's mother on her deathbed and helps Rukmani with her infertility problems. As a result of Kenny's help, Rukmani bears five sons for her husband, Nathan.
Rukmani tells us that Kenny often leaves the village for 'days or years at a time, nobody knew where he went or what he did, and when he returned, he was more taciturn than ever, and none dared ask.' One day, after the village endured a difficult period of starvation due to the drought, Kenny returns to the village once more after a very long absence. This time, Kenny has the money to build a new hospital in the village. He will also take on Selvam, one of Rukmani's sons, as his assistant.
When Rukmani asks where the money has come from, Kenny admits that it is both from concerned citizens of his country (England) and Rukmani's own countrymen. Presumably, Kenny has been in England to raise money for the new hospital. Rukmani is aghast at this answer, as she does not understand how people who have never met her or her fellow villagers should want to help. Kenny's answer is brutal, but it also explains the reason he was away for so long: he went to plead for help for a people who had no means to do so.
"Because they have the means," he said, " and because they have learned of your need...I have told you before... I will repeat it again: you must cry out if you want help. It is no use whatsoever to suffer in silence..."