To Sylvia Plath – I Can’t Hear My Heart

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Dear Sylvia,

I was sixteen when I read The Bell Jar.

I remember thinking how your voice felt like it was being carried into my blood vessels, echoing through them.

I remember thinking that if I listened close enough, I could hear you in my heart.

I can hear you in my heart, but I can’t hear my heart.

I try to listen to the brag of my heart, Sylvia. But it’s too loud outside.

It’s too loud inside.

I can’t hear my heart and I can’t hear the sound of my own thoughts in my heart over the noise.

You know what it’s like?

It’s like talking on the phone in the movie theatre. The voice is so close, right here, right next to my ear, but everything else is louder. So it doesn’t matter how close the voice is, I’ll never be able to hear what the voice is trying to tell me. I’m just going to be sitting here, in the dark cinema hall that smells of butter and stale popcorn.

And if I shout?

That’s the worst part, Miss Plath.

If I shout,

The silence consumes everything.

If I shout,

The silence is loud. No, it’s deafening.

I want to hear the brag of my heart, Miss Plath. I want to know that I am.

But sometimes, it just takes too much effort to simply be.

I wish I could get rid of the self awareness that comes with being.

Then maybe I could hear my heart.

Did you ever have trouble listening to your heart beat?

Did the strain of trying and trying to listen heighten everything else but the typical thudding you anticipated? Did you hear muffled whispers instead of the illuminating echo you seeked?

Did the chaos consume the answers—the answers you needed, needed, needed—as well?

Then that makes two of us, Sylvia.

And maybe there are more.

Maybe we must join our hands and close our eyes and synchronize our breaths and listen together.

Perhaps then we will hear that odd thudding. And the wise echoes that come with it.

Or perhaps we should just stop listening.

 

Yours,

Anupama

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