WHISPERS OF THE HEART: A MEMOIR
Independently Published (2020)
Reviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (03/2020)
“Whispers of the Heart: A Memoir” by Uma Eachempati, is the story of the author’s parents: her mother, Susila and father, Rao. The story highlights the 4 years they spent apart while Rao served for India during WWII. Part history, part memoir, part love story, the author has created a moving and touching tribute to her parents and an important historical tome for the family.
The first part of the book takes place during the war. When Rao asks for Susila’s support by backing up his decision to do his part for India during WWII, Susila knows she cannot stand in his way. But at 26 years old, left behind to raise two small children, Susila has no idea how she will make it through this time without him. Little did she know they would be separated four long years, and she certainly never imagined he would be captured and taken as a prisoner of war. With the support of her family, Susila focuses on her children Uma and Leela, and somehow manages to get through the years. But her heart is heavy, and as she longs for her husband, she urges him on with her love and support through the course of many letters. The second part of the book is about the ending of the war, Rao’s return home and the adjustments the family goes through when life returns to “normal.”
“Whispers of the Heart” is a tender, bittersweet story of love, war, loss and finally, the reuniting of a family separated by war. The journey through the lives of this family is full of love, fear, uncertainty and everything in between. The author does a nice job recounting so many stories from the family’s day to day lives as they navigate life without Rao. It reminded me of the stories my grandmother used to tell about our family. It’s such a significant gesture to keep family stories alive. I have often wished I had documented my grandmother’s story before she passed and I commend Uma Eachempati for undergoing such a labor of love.
I also enjoyed the way the author used the letters between Susila and Rao to provide both a history of what was going on with the war and to honor the declaration of love and commitment the couple had for each other. There are so many historical nuggets in these letters – I had not known very much about India’s function in WWII so I found it educational regarding the role India served in the war and the impact it had on the country as a whole.
“Whispers of the Heart” by Uma Eachempati is a touching story – one that will appeal to readers who enjoy memoirs as well as those interested in India and its function in WWII.