Wet Silence is divided into three sections: “I can hear a white cotton sari weaving at the shop,” “I didn’t promise to sleep in your shadow,” and “Silence became my lover, that’s why.” The first section focuses on grieving widows. The women who speak their minds in “I can hear a white cotton sari weaving at the shop,” tell of loneliness and sorrow. They grieve for their lost partners and try desperately to hang onto memories. One woman tells of this sorrow in the poem, “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
In the second section of Wet Silence, “I didn’t promise to sleep in your shadow,” the reader is introduced to women who are more burdened by the loss of their husbands. The stories in the beginning are similar in tone to the stories in “I can hear a white cotton sari weaving at the shop.” We meet a woman, for instance, who grieves for her husband who died prematurely. She grieves, but she also resents his dying and leaving her, “In a home we never built/where the mosquitos feast on my skin,” (“I water my memory of you”). Section two takes a sharp turn. We are introduced to women who have endured cruelty and abuse. The last woman we hear from in section two says—you can almost hear her rage,
I didn’t turn you into a pig,
as hearts cold as clay like to proclaim.
Pigs are loyal,
develop relationships with their mates,
remain family oriented, I am told.
Pigs like you perform acts
That I won’t mention in this poem.
In “Silence became my lover, that’s why” we are introduced to widows who are less concerned about how society perceives them. In the second to last poem, my personal favorite, titled “Working girl,” the woman admits,
Many shadows enter my room at night.
My soul is tired
but my feet are resting
as I smile at my client list to hold my own.
Each poem in Sweta Srivastava Vikram’s collection introduces the reader to a unique widow, a woman with her own story to tell. Vikram has created a magnificent tapestry woven with the words from women who are usually forced to stay silent. Wet Silence is a collection that will resonate with all readers.
Watch Sweta Vikram read her poetry!
This review is part of Poetic Book Tour's tour for Wet Silence. Find out more at Poetic Book Tours.