A Book Review for “Washed Away – a collection of fragments” by Shiksha Dheda review by Spriha Kant

https://tinyurl.com/czrd3c3r to purchase a copy!

                                                          Book Review by “Spriha Kant”

The book “Washed Away- a collection of fragments”, published by the publishing house “Alien Buddha Press”, is a book reciting the journey of the physical and metaphysical struggle experienced with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (and Depression) by the poetess “Shiksha Dheda”. The poetess desires to make the readers understand her journey and support her which she stated in the following stanzas in the foreword section:

“I want the reader to join me on my journey: why I feel the disorder galloped into existence, how this disorder has been sustained and how I view the future living alongside this disorder.”

“Join me as I try to salvage that which survives; that which persists – refusing to accept defeat.”

The poetess also bared the reason she kept the title of her book “Washed Away: a collection of fragments” in the foreword section:

“Every day, it is as though my personality is being eroded [washed away] by these disorder(s); I have to heal [rebuild/regrow] from the wounds or gaps that it leaves in my life.” 
Also, this poetry book is fragmented into three sections. The first section is “Soap Lathering”, the middle section is “Rinsing”, and the final section is “Drying”. Each section is a collection of poetries describing the different phases of her journey. She named each section according to the stages of “handwashing” which was emphasized during the COVID-19 pandemic. This indicates the reason she chose the words “a collection of fragments” in the title of this book.

The poetess used concise language to acknowledge the readers with her journey. She left no stone unturned in covering her journey’s depth from each aspect.

In a few poetries, the poetess gave glimpses of the symptoms of her disorder, one of which is in the poetry “Why am I, mother?”, a few lines reflecting this are:

“I am standing on the threshold of sanity, mother”

“I am standing on the outskirts of normalcy, mother 
   with invisible rain drenching my face.”

“I can’t recognize myself anymore.”

The poetess in some of the poetries even did a stinging satire on society's negative attitude towards those suffering from mental disorders and the falling of such patients into the stygian abyss due to their cornering by society.
One of the poetries covering this angle is “Shadow”, as quoted below:

“Irrespective of where I stood, 
  the shadow of my personality always 
  seemed to mar their brightness. 
  I retreated to the darkness instead. 
  I retreated to the darkness instead.”

The poetess in some of her poetries openly exposed her shattered condition with a few hard-hitting words, one of the poetries covering this is “Phobia” as quoted below:

“I don’t think I was that afraid of 
  heights or germs or even 
  of intimacy. 

  I was afraid of the most probable, 
  likeliest, most commonplace 
  thing of all: 
  living”

The poetess in a few of her poetries gave details on how her mind used to keep on drowning in a labyrinth of unrealistic quests and dreams and hallucinations, especially at night making her nights sleepless and without peace. This side of hers can be felt in K.P. DeLaney’s poetry “I Have Insomnia” from his poetry book “Swill and Daffodils”:

“I took a swim in the river.	
  the bottom kept changing
  and I lost my feet.
  I haven’t slept right 
  ever since.”

The poetess in some of her poetry gave details on how the constant haunting of her past made her stagnant water. One of the poetries reflecting this is “Old Things” as quoted below:

             “I tried new things 
but the carcass of the old things 
              took up too 
              much space”

The poetess not only confined herself to using imagery metaphors and personifications but she also used oxymorons which most poets and poetesses are still not able to do, one of the lines in which the poetess used oxymoron is quoted below:

“A silent friend singing praise of my strangeness.”



The poetess in her poetry “Attached” also shone a light on that point when she started feeling uncertain about her recovery and started considering this as her inexorable journey, a few stanzas quoted from this piece below:


“I wondered often: 
 is my disorder as attached to me 
 as I am to it? 
 Would it leave me 
 as easily as it had joined me? 

 Or would we have to live like this 
 forever?”

Even amidst all the vulnerabilities and shattered phases that the poetess was undergoing, the poetess had the desire and courage to overcome and to become a person like she used to be before her disorder as she reflected this in a few of her poetries, quoting a few stanzas from her poetry “Crumbs” and a few lines from her poetry “Difficult (re)introductions” reflecting this side of the poetess,

A few stanzas from the poetry “Crumbs”:

“It's like this disorder had systematically hollowed 
  out my personality. 
  Eroding and rusting 
  all my likes and dislikes 
  —           leaving behind only remnants, 

  crumbs. 

  Somehow, 
  I had to make a meal 
  —food—
  —sustenance—
  —life—

   from these 
   crumbs.” 

A few lines from the poetry “Difficult (re)introductions”:

“Introduce me to me, 

  like old days, 
  like how I used to be.”

The poetess however started feeling optimistic lately as she expressed in a few of her poetries, one such poetry is “Butterfly” as quoted below:

“And just as the caterpillar 
  became a butterfly, 
       life didn't seem like a burden anymore. 
              It flew with small pretty wings. 
              Even if just for a short while.”

The poetess deserves to be highly praised for boldly facing her mental illness and for inspiring many people undergoing such phase directly/indirectly through this book by exposing this phase of her openly that most people are still not able to which is reflected in her poetry “Under Lock and Key”, quoting a few lines showing glimpses of the reflection:

  “What if they think I am a freak? What if they lock me up and throw away     
     the key?”

    “What if I am made to live inside another prison? A prison outside of my   
      mind. A prison I can’t recognize. A prison I can’t wash away.”

It is high time society considers removing mental illness as a “taboo issue” and treats the patients suffering from mental illness with kindness and empathy. 



Bio: Shiksha Dheda uses poetry(mostly) to express her OCD and depression roller-coaster ventures. Sometimes, she dabbles in photography, painting, and baking lopsided layered cakes. 
Her work has been featured (on/forthcoming) in Off Menu Press, The Daily Drunk, The Kalahari Review, Brave Voices, Anti-heroin Chic, Versification, and elsewhere. Twitter: @ShikshaWrites

Bio for Spriha Kant (reviewer):  developed an interest in reading and writing poetries at a very tender age. Her poetry "The Seashell" was first published online in the "Imaginary Land Stories" on August 8, 2020, by Sunmeet Singh. She has been a part of Stuart Matthew’s anthologies “Sing, Do the birds of Spring” and “A Whisper Of Your Love” in the fourth and fifth series of the books from #InstantEternal poetry prompts. She has been featured in the Bob Dylan-inspired anthology “Hard Rain Poetry: Forever Dylan” by the founder and editor of the website “Fevers of the Mind Poetry and Art” David L O’ Nan. Her poetries have been published in the anthology “Bare Bones Writing Issue 1: Fevers of the Mind”. Paul Brookes has featured her poetry, “A Monstrous Shadow” as the “Seventh Synergy” in “SYNERGY: CALLING ALL WRITERS WHO ARE PHOTOGRAPHERS” on his blog “Wombwell Rainbow”. She has been featured in the “Quick-9 interview” on feversofthemind.com by David L’O Nan. Paul Brookes has featured some of her poetries on his blog “Wombwell Rainbow” including Acrostic poetry “A Rainstorm”, the Alphabet poem “I am an independent Happy Single Woman”, “Travel in the laps of Nature” on National Poetry Day, “Giving Up The Smooch” for World Suicide Prevention Day, and “I love your smile” for World Smile Day. She has reviewed the poetry books “Silence From The Shadows” by Stuart Matthews and “Spaces” by Clive Gresswell.  She has been a part of the event that celebrated the #1 Amazon New Release of the debut poetry book of Jeff Flesch “Nature Speaks of Love and Sorrow” by lending her poetic response “Stay Away” to one of the poetries in the book “Love’s Trials” on Jeff Flesch’s website.


By davidlonan1

David writes poetry, short stories, and writings that'll make you think or laugh, provoking you to examine images in your mind. To submit poetry, photography, art, please send to feversofthemind@gmail.com. Twitter: @davidLOnan1 + @feversof Facebook: DavidLONan1

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