“We have an abundance of rape and violence against women in this country and on this Earth, though it’s almost never treated as a civil rights or human rights issue, or a crisis, or even a pattern. Violence doesn’t have a race, a class, a religion, or a nationality, but it does have a gender.” ― Rebecca Solnit, Men Explain Things to Me
Distressing and heart wrenching. Emotions that the debut book, Voices of the Silent Creek by Vikkas Arun Pareek leaves the reader with. Raising uncomfortable questions that are often shoved underneath the carpet to maintain the semblance of well-being in the private space and to uphold the honor of the family,
Voices of the Silent Creek gives voice to the silent voices of women across the country and in the process, brings to the fore a very pertinent issue that plagues the Indian society today i.e. the rampant culture of violence against women in the domestic space.
A society that puts women on a pedestal in the form of goddesses refuses to address them with basic human dignity in the domestic space and make them endure insufferable atrocities on a daily basis. The violence inflicted against women by strangers may be avenged in the form of punishment, but it is the violence perpetrated in the domestic space where they are supposed to be safe, by those who are supposed to protect them is worse as it not only goes unpunished but also unacknowledged as a private matter.
Voices of the Silent Creek draws attention to the violence committed in the four walls of the home ‘which remain largely unknown to the world’ and ‘leaves a far greater imprint on the society and pulls us back to the dark age’.
Voices of the Silent Creek is a story of three girls, Shanti, Bhano and Arti and also of Mano bound by a common thread of violence perpetrated against women in the society. Although the sheer level of violence demonstrated in the book might make the readers’ cringe in their seats at times, but the writer makes no attempt to tone it down and pens it down in its most ugly and brutal form which also becomes the strength of the book. Starting from the vivid description of Shanti’s emotions and pain when her periods do not commence, ‘She ran to the bathroom in the backyard, she felt an urge to cut her privates with a knife so that everyone got what they wanted’, the author throughout the book portrays the pain that women undergo with sensitivity and compassion.
Married into an affluent family, her happiness soon turns into a horror. Humiliated, battered, abused, beaten till she loses her spirit to fight back, the author narrates how patriarchy perpetuates violence to subjugate women, ‘”Wait here bitch, let me get my stick, I will show you, what happens in this house when someone does not listen to me”’ and either leaves them broken as in the case of Shanti or mad as depicted in the case of Mano. Indignant not only with the level of indifference exhibited by the society at large including the police vis-à-vis the violent treatment meted out to women in the private space but also with hypocrisy displayed by the so called intellectuals who turn blind eye to the pain of these women, the author questions everyone who fails these women and let this evil spread its tentacles without any fear of punishment.
Simone de Beauvoir wrote in her seminal work, ‘Women’s mutual understanding comes from the fact that they identify themselves with each other; but for the same reason each is against the others’. Bhano discovers the same and faces the condemnation by her own sex when she tries to break free from the shackles of the mindless violence inflicted by her brother-in-law and father-in-law, ‘She could not understand why the entire village had become her enemy – the women who should help her instinctively were the forerunners now in hitting her and unclothing her.’ Apart from Shanti and Bhano, the book also narrates a story of Arti who is educated and happily married, but experiences the same violence when she tries to help Bhano to rupture the shackles put on her by the society.
Although the overall plot is loosely structured with the only aim to bring out the message with immense force and to compel the readers to face the ugly reality lived by thousands of women across the country,
Voices of the Silent Creek is an important piece of work that raises significant questions about the society that calls itself civilized and aims to conquer the 21st century but has failed its women to provide the basic human dignity.
Despite all the shortcomings of the book, the book is highly recommended.
Title: Voices of the Silent Creek
Author: Vikkas Arun Pareek
Genre: Indian Ficton
Publisher: Nivasini Publishers
Rating : 4/5
About the Author
Vikkas Arun Pareek is working for a major Indian IT company and is based in London. Voices of the Silent Creek is his first self published book. He has a passion for writing and is venturing into a vast and respected arena of expressing and writing books.