Dear Sylvia, there’s decayed red on the wall

A beautiful letter to Plath from our friend over at Red and Found!


Dear Sylvia,

I’ve learned to play along with their kind of every-days now. I wake up, dress up, go up, and up, and up. The business park is north from the city, I think. Who knows? I take the bus, at least that I know. Five days a week. Seven to eight hours a day. Five to seven cups of coffee. Thirty minutes of lunch talk.

I prayed for this. Prayed hard for this. To my guardian angel (I still think mine’s a man, wide, wide, ecru-colored wings). To the universe. To God. To the stars. To the cold night three winters ago. They all listened and gave me all that. This kind of every-days.

But, I do remember you. When I’m back home, just before I win over the lists running around my head and sleep, I remember you. Dear Sylvia, there’s decayed red on the wall. I keep it suspended there.

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Tanvi Kusum

hand mud

Dear Sylvia,

Today is Valentines day, and I am thinking of something purely un-romantic, but it is about love in a way. I’ve realised that all of us humans are doomed, we are actually just bad, ungrateful people who are uncaring of other people and their needs. Now every time someone does not stand up to my expectations I’ll forgive them because they don’t know any better. Maybe this is hell, maybe we are paying for the wrongs committed by us in our last birth by being stuck in this constant cycle of life and not attaining the much talked about ‘nirvana’. I believe that people are inherently selfish but they make conscious efforts to become better. That is what meditation, or education is about, learning to control ourselves and our native desires. People are always trying to think before they do something, their mind is hard at work. It processes information and tries to make us more patient. We judge people for their actions because we want other people to work as hard as us in doing things. Thoughtless actions disappoint us, while everyone possesses their own scale for what thoughtless constitutes because we all stand at a different stage in our ‘goodness’ endeavor. It is not as much as ‘acting’ our part in the world than trying to be a better version of ourselves, showing the world how capable our mind is of putting us out of the misery.

That being said when someone says don’t look for perfection, I differ and say I most certainly will. Perfection varies from person to person and for me it is someone who stands on the same stage of the scale as me. I deserve perfection because I deserve someone who makes as much effort as me in refusing instinctive hurtful actions and taking the more difficult and thoughtful path.

(Picture credit- internet)

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Tanvi Kusum

Dear Sylvia,

It was the 30th anniversary of your death recently, and frankly you were so much more than death. But that day also triggered past memories in me, the memory of a young 14 year old getting murdered. I was 10 when the details of the case were spread out on my television screen, I looked at her pictures and her deeply kohled eyes stood out.

The whole society was shaken up, a young child was murdered ruthlessly. And yet what caught my attention was ‘how cool she looked’. She held the fascination every young girl holds for a child, someone children want to be. I saw her picture and felt her personality, and yet the whole feeling of great loss, abandonment and despair eluded me. The large implications of a singular loss was tough for my tiny being to understand. I looked at the incident with a circumscribed approach.

Now that I’m 18, four years older than what she would ever be, I see myself as more mature. Now when I see the same photo it evokes in me a completely different feeling. I look at her eyes and I miss the kohl, I only see the childlike innocence. Her thin bones and awkward gestures remind me of the pre-pubescent era, she has not yet grown in her body, she seems sort of incomplete.

It was a surreal, weird feeling, because the very same photo aroused in me two completely divergent point of views. At one time I had imagined her to be ‘the’ person, someone who would be my future, an attainment goal. And later I saw her as an uncorrupted, innocuous child who had yet to face the series of inevitable disappointments, heartbreaks, and utter dissatisfaction in life. She was ignorant of life’s doom at her age, she was so different than what I had perceived. I always thought you could know how a person is for sure, but you really don’t. Opinions change, people change.

(featured image by Andy Warhol)



I know you haven’t got this note in time and even if you did, it wouldn’t make a difference.

The choice was made beyond you, but I will let these words hang in the air and hope they

somehow reach you like long-forgotten balloons sailing out of sight.

I read The Bell Jar at 14, at 18, at 22 and now today, my well-thumbed edition sits among

lesser and greater books but, The Bell Jar? Its cracked spine is the product of feverish

bedtime reading, of time passed travelling and tears for the sorrow neither you nor I could

convey wholly. Its yellowing pages rough to the touch but much coarser to read.

But Sylvia, I wish I could tell you that time has healed me – Yes, I still bear the cracks that

you, the spine of the book and I share but with time, love and tea, some of them have started

to heal…

Your poems that often seem disjointed and scarred, they speak to people like me, people

like you and though they refuse to offer comfort, they offer something else, not a friend, but I

feel you stand shoulder to shoulder with all of us as we fight on. You weren’t the first soldier

we lost and unfortunately, you weren’t the last but we remember you because you stood

strong and spoke the unspeakable words.



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Sneha Sood

Dear Sylvia,

I feel like the world is a cruel place for people who wear their hearts on a sleeve and I mean literally wear their HEARTS on a sleeve.
Although I’m not the one one who shows my feelings to others easily because I think that is a sign of weakness but Oh man! Do I fall I love easily!

And how can you not?! There’s something to love inherently in each one of us. I see that, I feel that and I fall for that oh so easily. I find it so hard to not care about anyone and everyone and even though I would want the world to think that ‘m made of stone(hell, I even fool myself to think that), the world, the people hardly fall for the guise and I’m always the one who ends up getting hurt and in the sand. Why? Because I just can’t stop caring.

Sometimes I could be so selfless that I almost feel like I’m being selfish. Sometimes in helping others I forget,, that, my life is also my own to live.
And as soon as that thought touches my mind I chide myself how could I even think like that? How can I leave the people I love(regardless of the fact if they reciprocate or not) to go and live out an adventure of my own.

You see Sylvia? That’s the constant conundrum going on in my head everyday. That’s my problem, my Achilles’ heel; I feel and care to much for others that I forget to feel for myself.

And I know this letter might seem confusing to you because you see I’m confused myself. Everyday I wake up and think that today will be the day I finally make up my mind and live life for me and then look around and all those thoughts come to a stop. It’s not the fact that I think I couldn’t live on my own but could “they”? And I’m back to square one.

Maybe one day I can understand. Understand why I’m wired this way; Understand why I can’t leave people behind; Understand why I fall in love so easily…..

How I wish there was someone to tell me why I’m so naive, to answer all my questions about me. It is hard for me to talk about it and much harder to write about it coherently because all these thoughts, they come and go; they are muddled up somewhere in the far corners of my brain coming into existence at times when I’m feeling so lost that I have great conversations about them with myself and the hallucinations of my imagination…all in my head but they somehow always get me. And the reality of these conversations is far more soothing than the reality all around me.

Why can’t the world order be like this? More dreamy instead of real or logical and more loving; maybe then I won’t feel like such a misfit.
But till such utopian dreams of mine come true, I’m still inexorably, miserably the plain old me.

Krishna Menon

Dear Sylvia,

I guess I really don’t know what to say. I don’t know whether it is okay for me to ask, ” How are you?” as I know that you won’t be replying. Dying has always been an art for you, now that you have mastered it, I hope you are happy. Being alive had pushed you into depression and I sincerely hope that at least now, you are at peace.

Somebody once told me about how you killed yourself and I have always wondered why you did it the way you did it. Were things that bad that you wanted to die by surrendering yourself to pain in the worst possible way?
Was it really necessary, knowing that your “two roses” would have to live in the shadow of your death?

I know there were times in your life when you felt that you weren’t going anywhere, when words of discouragement you had heard earlier came back and haunted you. You must have felt crushed, disheartened. But you turned the sadness in you life into literature; a magical spell only you could perform perfectly. When people I know, brand you as “weak” and a “coward”, they don’t realize what you have been through. No coward will die the way you did. I guess you need courage to pull the plug.

Nevertheless, I do wish you didn’t kill yourself, Sylvia. Do you know how many people love your poems? Have you seen the admiration in their eyes?
You thought you were alone but do you know the number of people who empathize with your loneliness? All over the world there are people quoting your words, tattooing your words on their skin, so that your words will remain with them forever. Can you see where you stand in our lives, even after your death?

Here I am sending this letter to your grave to be read by your ghostly eyes. I would have been overwhelmed and humbled to receive a letter from the real you, but I guess that is just a dream that will never come true.

With admiration,
An ardent admirer.

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Tanvi Kusum

Dear Sylvia,
There is something inherently romantic about buildings in construction, or buildings in general. While I sit in one right now I feel it as a powerhouse of memories, the home I live in, it’s every wall and bricks that compose it are familiar companions. It seems they will know more than any other the tragedies of my life. These walls constitute my life, and ensconced in it is my sense of security.
While I sit here I imagine the labours which lived here, constructing this one brick at a time. They may have felt the dauntless permanence of this building too. That is a thing about buildings, they make you their own and you almost forget that this too shall pass. But what about the weeds and animals which resided on the same piece of land, 10 or maybe 100 years ago? How was this same piece of land then, which I call my own now?
It will cease to be mine once I leave it, some other people will come to weave their own stories, with their own nuances. We’ll have so much in common, but we will never know each other. We touch so many lives unknowingly, following patterns so many people had in past. We are so many versions of one true self.
It is overwhelming to think that the current inhabitants never know fully the story of the place they live in, while these walls know everything about them. Buildings are scarred with memories of past, the soil echoes the sound of thousand demises.
While I was walking towards the mall a few days ago, I saw sights which made me question our existence and transience of life all over again. There were people living beside piles of garbage, dog and man alike. It seems that when you reach the level of complete destitution, man and animal tread on same level. There was a familiarity in their exchange, a knowing in their eyes. I passed right through their home, on my both sides cots, and scattered remains of a hopeless existence- broken combs, old thrown away pieces they found from the garbage which they clean and sell, and bug infested blankets.
I passed through their whole life in a maximum of 5 seconds. The privacy of knowing is gone, there are no walls and your penury is on display while self respect is nowhere to be found.
Sylvia, it reminded me of how all of us are just travellers, just passing through.
It scares me because we take ourselves so seriously, we hoard so much while there is so much to give.

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(Featured image is of Sylvia’s primary home from 1942 to 1950)

Matthew James

Dear Sylvia,

I don’t know you very well, but I know of you. When I look at your photos I see such a beautiful woman, who would fit perfectly within the American Dream, yet inside of you there seemed to be another world, possibly a nightmare, a conflict between being human and being what you were expected to me. This I can only assume

When I think of you, I can’t stop crying. Not because of your sudden departure from this life, which is easily understandable, but because somewhere inside of me I am you and you are me. You inspire me Sylvia, to stand strong and not to have my voice silenced. To shout at the top of my lungs of the person I am rather than the person I have been expected to be.

I understand your need to be alone in this world of chaos. Yet, inside of me, I wish I could have given you just a moment of relief, of comfort, of love. None of these things ever last, but if for just one moment I could have given you any of these things, in exchange you would be giving me what I so need, to love, to comfort, and to feel relief by giving relief.

You may have rejected my offer due to distrust and the lack of belief that these things actually exist. This I can understand also. Now that you have departed this life, and maybe see things a little more clearly, I hope that you understand what it is that I am offering from the sincerity of my heart.

I truly want to know you Sylvia, but all I have is books and stories to give me a mere impression of who you were. Not enough to allow me to truly know you. Even though I don’t know you, I feel you. And, through this feeling I love you.

I won’t let you down dear Sylvia. I will express my quiet, peaceful heart with a loud roar that will fill the entire face of the Earth, even echoing throughout the universe. You did not die in vain. You gave us who love you a greater reason and meaning for living. You inspire us to be ourselves and to not allow the society and it’s insane expectations to tell us otherwise.

Dear Sylvia, this letter may be short for such a long winded writer such as I. It is because I am overwhelmed with emotion brought about by my thoughts of you. Surely I will write to you again, once I have composed myself enough to express, more thoroughly, my true feelings for you. As for now, please know that I love you, and through this love, I will always strive to be true to myself and to no one else. If this means that the little minds of the world will hate me, then I accept this as a compliment. If it means that I will have to live the rest of this short and empty life alone, I welcome it. For I know that you don’t hate me and I also know that, within me, I am never alone.


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(featured image drawn by Sylvia Plath herself)

Tanvi Kusum

Dear Sylvia,
sylvia plath 3

I look at your pictures and see your genuine smile, and it scares me to know that you were not really happy when those pictures were clicked. A chill passes through my spine when I realize that know one knew.
I am scared because I see something of me in you, because I think I am getting as good as you in hiding my pain. We are so adept in duping, what if no one sees beyond our ruse?

Isn’t it the worst thing that we try so hard to hide ourselves when the only thing we need is to be found.
Sylvia, I am really lost, in this abyss where I am falling and yet there is no one to catch me. I do believe that one must catch himself, but what if your arms are cut.

I know that when one passes dark light comes, I’ve felt it in my own life when one day I lose all hope and for weeks there is loss over loss, despair over despair, and yet I choose to tread on, I’ve felt the happiness which comes after such tragedy. But Sylvia, it is so tough, it is so tough to face the dark alone, even in my dreams I see my hand stretching over to reach someone, and I have always felt the hands betray me. The tears which flowed in the aftermath were the worst I ever felt, I bet everything on that hand, all my trust and belief. When it betrayed me it felt like someone ripped through my chest and left me in a cold, numbing, isolation.

I’ve dreamt of riots I fought alone, with a void, all consuming fear in my heart,just as my subconscious made desperate attempts to showcase its heroine as courageous and brave. I will never forget the desperation of my searching eyes.

I know Sylvia that good times are just around the corner, but how can I pass the bad ones? It is getting tougher and tougher, as I get more and more away from reality, wrapped up in my own thoughts. I feel myself shrink and tighten, I know how you felt when you did what you did.
I am scared because you did everything right, you went to the best schools, you had the best career, and yet it wasn’t enough. I know I’ll never be enough.

Sylvia, I know it would be easy to say that you’ve been selfish but they don’t understand, these people! They don’t know how bad it is. Everyday our loved ones fall into this spiral and we do not think twice, because we are always climbing out from ours. It is a constant struggle.
I’ll never be happy and I know it, but the challenge is to make oneself thick enough to not be sad. I am writing this because I know you’d understand, because you know how it is having lots of people around you but not really having them.

I know you became famous and now people dissect your every action, but I know it is all worth dust to you. I know you’d give everything up for any one person to really get you.

They say hold on tight you never know, but what about now Sylvia, what about now?

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