Phulan, your beauty is great. But beauty holds only part of a man, and that for just so long. Keep some of yourself hidden. You can lavish love and praise on him and work hard by his side. Yes, and have your sons. That will help. But the secret is keeping your innermost beauty, the secrets of your soul, locked in your heart so that he must always reach out to you for it.
In the chapter "The Wedding", Sharma counsels Phulan with these words. She is suggesting to the girl that she must remain mysterious to her future husband and that she must always guard some part of herself from him, so that some part of her remains independent of him. Shabanu, hearing the words, understands them immediately and begins to see her future in a new light. The words offer her hope that no matter what her marriage turns out to be, she will still be able to have an inner life and, moreover, that keeping that inner life alive will give her power over her husband.