Powerful. That is the word I would use to describe Wet Silence, the newest poetry collection from Sweta Srivastava Vikram. I devoured this collection in one sitting and went back to reread several pieces and I know I will read them yet again in the future. This collection relates the hardships of Hindu widows in India. We don’t know the women the stories speak of but we know that their stories are shared by many other widows in India. It is a very moving and emotional collection … very raw in the telling and one that will haunt your thoughts for days to come.
In my years of reading I have read many novels that portrayed the lives of women in India and that was, in fact, my interest in this collection. This collection addresses the many restrictions placed on Hindu women after the passing of their husbands. What they wear and eat is controlled. They are unable to love again and remarry. Basically they are expected to mourn their husbands for the rest of their lives whether they had been treated well or not. As a woman it saddens me to think of vibrant women, some in the peak of their lives, having to live a life like this – being dictated to and no longer being able to enjoy the pleasures life has to offer. Wet Silence perfectly captures the grief, sadness, and anger that these women feel and through Sweta’s voice, I too felt their sorrow.
Wet Silence is an amazing collection. It hits you hard – in the gut with it’s raw reality. When I read poetry I look for how it affects me emotionally and Sweta’s is one of the most powerful I’ve read in terms of evoking so many feelings in me. It is exceptional.
Please take the time to enjoy this video of Sweta and a reading of her poetry. I’ve never listened to an author read their own poetry and it really adds a whole other dimension to the words spoken.
And finally I’d love to share a piece of Sweta’s poetry with you…one of my favorites. It was the very first one I read.
My husband is leaving
Widowhood is trapping me unwillingly.
I can hear a white cotton sari weaving at the shop,
demonic voices sharp as the mustard paste in fish curry
speaking in whispers around the hospital corridor,
accusing me of standing and watching
his rotting flesh and dull eyes,
not brooding like soot on windows.
My husband is leaving.
It’s his touch gentle as velvet,
his angelic tone that I’m seeking.
Bidding farewell to our dream,
my curse: I keep on living.
(“My husband is leaving,” a poem, originally appeared in Sweta Srivastava Vikram’s poetry book: Wet Silence(Modern History Press: July 1, 2015. ISBN-13: 978-1615992560))