Excerpt from The Seduction of Silence by Bem Le Hunte, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Seduction of Silence

By Bem Le Hunte

The Seduction of Silence
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Hardcover: Jan 2003,
    416 pages.
    Paperback: Mar 2004,
    416 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

There were diseases everywhere. Invisible, making them even more malevolent. Nature was diseased. The food in Jyoti Ma's kitchen was cooked until it was limp, in case a few germs remained. No fruit was ever eaten without being laboriously peeled and then dipped in potassium permanganate. Even the water was boiled four times before it touched the lips of any family member. (Of course the servants had to drink their water straight from the earth.)

Then there were the trees to worry about. A few grew too near the house and Jyoti Ma, through some error in her education, was convinced that they created too much carbon monoxide.

"We must chop down that jacaranda near the house," she suggested to Aakash one day.

"If you cut it down, my dear, I will leave and never come back."

"And where will you go?"

"Further into the mountains," was all he said.

So Aakash continued his life with his accidental wife, his earthly existence that is, while his spirit took on a life of its own. He allowed himself to slip further into Silence, because it was only in Silence that he felt fulfilled.

Every day he would chant and sing bhajans. He would do his japa on beads, immersing himself in the name of God with each bead held tight between two fingers. He would study the vedas, closing his eyes often to understand the intent behind each shloka. He would sit in silence and meditate after his regular yoga routine, which he practiced on the verandah every morning at dawn, with the pale orange hills watching every movement. Along with all this practice he maintained a strict vegetarian regime that sent his carnivorous wife into fits of desperation.

When Aakash made the rule that no meat was to be cooked on the farm, Jyoti Ma's craving for flesh took on obsessive proportions. Animals were slaughtered secretly by the migrant workers on the farm. Outings were always interrupted by furtive detours to the local dhaba to pick on a chicken leg or devour some masala'd mutton. Since dead flesh was forbidden in the house, Jyoti Ma had even savored the loins of the most forbidden meats - the holy cow.

Ram was brought up as a strict vegetarian, never knowing of his mother's secret fetish for meat. He grew up with the love of both parents in an absolutely ordered world. His father devoted a lot of energy to his son, taking time out from his work on the farm to teach him to walk and talk. And Jyoti Ma saw to his every physical need. Husband and wife were united through their son, their one point of mutual adoration.

Ram the Respectful, the Sensitive, the Earnest Philosopher, craved respect mostly from his father. His love for his mother did not alter or falter, but her respect was never required. Somehow Ram sensed that his mother's intense materialism was only a polarity of his father's isolation in matters of the spirit. Together, he felt they formed some kind of a balance. And anyway, he was the object of her love. Had he been a servant or field worker and not a son, who knows? It was never his destiny to find out.

Being his father's son he was always happy to spend hours learning to recite shlokas from the Rig Veda, or discuss the possibilities of an after-life and reincarnation, or even the idea of taking up a life of renunciance. The two of them would sit together, Aakash having esoteric discussions with a boy who wasn't much taller than his navel.

"Pitaji, if I were never to marry, would you try to force me?"

"If it is your destiny to stay a brahmachari, there is no question of force. Life is too short to live out your own desires, let alone the desires of another."

Life didn't seem so short in those days. But Ram always remembered the first time he learnt that people died. At first he didn't believe it, because it was so unfair. And where did they go? It bothered him.

"Pitaji, please live a long life."

This is a complete excerpt of Chapter 1 from The Seduction of Silence by Bem Le Hunte. Copyright 2003 Bem Le Hunte. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the publisher, HarperCollins Publishers.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
Sign up, win books!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Hundred-Year House
    The Hundred-Year House
    by Rebecca Makkai
    Rebecca Makkai's sophomore novel The Hundred-Year House could just have easily been titled ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Valley of Amazement
    by Amy Tan
    "Mirror, Mirror on the wall
    I am my mother after all!"

    In my pre-retirement days as a professor ...
  • Book Jacket: A Man Called Ove
    A Man Called Ove
    by Fredrik Backman
    Reading A Man Called Ove was like having Christmas arrive early. Set in Sweden, this debut novel is ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The Arsonist
by Sue Miller

Published Jun. 2014

Join the discussion!

  1.  132Tomlinson Hill:
    Chris Tomlinson

All Discussions

Win this book!
Win The Angel of Losses

The Angel of Losses

"Family saga, mystery, and myth intersect in Feldman's debut novel." - Booklist


Word Play

Solve this clue:

E C H A Silver L

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.