The book ‘Voices of the Silent Creek’ tries to bring out raw truth about women hidden behind the curtains of big houses and how knowing their situation, people choose to keep their mouth shut. The hypocrisy of people calling themselves supporter of women empowerment will strike you fiercely in this novel. A very different attempt for a debut novel and definitely deserves a round of applause.
While you are wondering what creek (meaning a narrow waterway) represents in a novel on women, let me assure you, it’s just a symbolic or abstract object where many important conversations, solitary quests happens (with most of the characters, be it Shanti or Bhano.)
As I do not want to brood more on the content, making this review hugely spoiled, I’ll switch to literary aspects of it i.e. language, characterization and presentation.
The book starts off well, with sparks of talent showing through words:
She sat on one of the hillocks facing the creek, her face red with fury, when she heard some noise. Someone was looking at her. She saw him—he was looking at her—he kept looking at her—she looked away. Bhano looked again. He was still looking at her. Bhano stopped and marched towards him. He was surrounded by boys of his age group. She looked at him, at first she wanted to pinch him, her teacher had taught her that if a boy teased her, she should pinch them on the upper arm, it hurts most there and they will run away, she had never tried it as boys in her school were all nice to her, but then she looked at him and she was not sure why she resisted herself, it was a new feeling for her, she had never felt this way. He was taller than her and was very fair, fairer then her, had large eyes and long hair. She was confused and she couldn’t decide what to do next but all his friends were looking at her—she felt nervous, she felt scared, and she felt a sudden urge to run back.
This clearly establishes that the author has written this piece very passionately, giving attention to minor details, and therefore, making the novel richer. But as I progressed, the tone and excitement of the author seemed to falter a bit and became mundane. Like the following:
An old lady got on a crowded bus and no one bothered to lend her a seat, and while Arti, being a young able woman, left her seat for the old lady. Firstly, I don’t understand why Arti was surprised that no man left the seat while being a woman; she had to do the same. While calling about equal rights and feminism (which, by the way, is a misnomer), you shouldn’t differentiate responsibility of a citizen in a situation like this. Arti was perfectly healthy and strong lady, and I find it unfair for her being surprised/angry for men sitting around her. On the other hand, I’d not expect such a response after doing that:
Arti looked outside the door. It would now be a few hours before she would sit again, but she felt happy. A tear rolled down her left cheek. She was happy. She promised to herself that she will always do the right things in her life.
This is over-reaction.
Sometimes, while imposing hard punishment to characters, author should judge the realistic possibility of doing the same. Moron husband married Shanti though he loved Laxmi and while questoning the insanity of it, Shanti was punished like:
“Then why have you married me, why haven’t you married Laxmi?” she looked into the eyes of her husband and asked.
She was slapped hard twice, and kicked a dozen times as a response.
Kicking a dozen times seems another over-reaction.
But author also experimented here and there a bit like this: lover kissing and talking:
“uoorr eilps rar foft hn oose,” Arti said inside his mouth.
Good one. But what about this:
Once inside the room, Arti pushed Amol and he fell on the bed,“What were you thinking, you dog!”
“You wanted it.”
“I now want this,” Arti slid her hands inside her tee and pulled it off.
“What are you doing, this is your home.” Amol jumped off the bed.
“Why? You fucked me in front of the whole college and you can’t do it here?” Arti moved closer and kissed him.
I leave a conversation like this to the romance readers (because I’m not expert in romance) to decide whether it is apt. But the ‘f-word’ and ‘dog’ are, I think, used to express naughtiness of their relationship.
Another thing: while raining, Shanti (married) and Mano (mad and infertile thanks to her benevolent in-law’s treatment) went to dance in roof and a moment like is very tender. I expected a more matured and expert treatment to it.
An admirable material in writing is the way the author makes his readers glued to the story. I clap for that.
To be clear of any confusion, as a reviewer, which I fear to proclaim myself, this one is well above average books published out there every day. Maybe J.M. Coetzee or Thomas Hardy, whose books I have been happen to be devouring, have veiled my mind with a messy amalgamation of art, and thus making this book deprived of the appreciation it may deserve. So, with no qualms and circling through strange alleys of literature, I’ll stick to my perceived view of the book, no matter how much it (my perception) is ‘polluted’. This is the obvious reason for which I do not want to rate it on a scale of 5.
In conclusion, I feel the author has written a very important book and I give him a pat on the back for that, but somewhere I have felt that, he also has misused the bleak, sensitive situation to strengthen the bleakness of the novel (which I’ve never felt in bleak books like Midnight’s Children, A Fine Balance or Sleeping on Jupiter).
Thank you for reading. ❤