Writing Style- 4.5/5
Captivating Factor- 4/5
“Let us carry hope with us. We will meet. God will be kind to us. We will have our day, too. Life will not be all dark and black to us.”
– Uma Eachempati, Whispers of the Heart
‘Whispers of the Heart’ by Uma Eachempati is a crate full of emotions, stories, events, and an unending flow of compassion and warmth. It is a memoir written from the heart with excellent penmanship.
‘Whispers of the Heart’ is a real-life story of the author’s parents, set against the backdrop of World War II, the book beautifully depicts the lives of a married couple separated by the wrath of a global war. It is set in a typical Indian cultural society and does a fantastic job of exhibiting the essence of it.
In a time full of fantasy romances, this book reverts to the actual challenges of marriage and the ups and downs of a happily ever after. Life is not a bed of roses, and this book does the perfect job of proving so.
Another factor to look forward to if you are picking up this book is the presence of a lot of characters with individual identities. What I personally liked is how the story is not built around the importance of one character. It trails ahead with a real-life pace free from any major time jumps.
‘Whispers of the Heart’ is the story of a young married couple Rao and Susila with two children. Married at a very young age, Rao and Susila get separated for four years when Rao decides to go away to serve as a doctor in the army during World War II. The book traces the difficulties faced by Susila while being separated from her husband and raising two young daughters alone.
Around six months into, Rao becomes a prisoner of war under the Japanese in Singapore. This cuts off the regular communication that Rao and Susila were having through letters and pictures. Having little to no information about Rao, Susila falls into an endless cycle of longing, desperation, loneliness, and distress for over three years all dependant on an unpredictable war.
It also depicts her journey of raising two daughters, Leela and Uma, along with the support of her parents in the South-Indian town of Madras. Leela and Uma also long for their Nanna (Father) as they grow up waiting for him and writing to him regularly. Susila’s parents also form significant characters of this tale, Grandma is the perfect depiction of an elderly and experienced support system who stays there for her daughter every minute during her separation from her husband.
The story also features Susila’s brief meetings and connections with some notable individuals like Mahatma Gandhi, India’s first woman engineer Lalitha, and more. This is a wholesome story with descriptions about life during wartime, difficulties of a single mother in a rather under-developed society, life of a soldier, and upbringing of a girl in a patriarchal culture.
The second and brief part includes how the lives of Susila, Uma, and Leela changes after Rao returns from the war after four years.
All in all, ‘Whispers of the Heart’ takes you on a ride making you cry, laugh, and smile on the way. It is a true tale of an adventurous life, all bound together to a special place, home, GIRIJA.
Decoding the Underlying Messages
This memoir is set in the 1940s, an era when India was colonized by Britishers, largely diving it into a rich and poor society. This story depicts that reality through various instances. It also describes the occurrence of all the national epidemics and difficulties that came with the war.
This book does an excellent task of capturing the extreme patriarchy that was exercised back in the 1940s. It largely contrasts with the present time and amazes the readers about how much society has changed since then.
Worth a Read or Not?
The book itself is written in understandable and beautiful language. The inclusion of text from the real letters that were exchanged between Rao and Susila make the read more personal and wholesome.
You can read this book if you are looking for an emotional and family-orientated read. If you are searching for a wartime read, ‘Whispers of the Heart’ would be a perfect choice.
This is the perfect book for those who enjoy old-school love. Don’t pick this one if you are into fantasy love stories, humour, or modern-era tales.
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