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Sylvia's Starry Starry Nights - A Mental Health Awareness Project by Joie Bose and Vaivaswat Tyagi

Sylvia's Starry Starry Nights - A Mental Health Awareness Project 

Words by Joie Bose and Artwork by Vaivaswat Tyagi

Sylvia is not just Plath who died alone, who cried alone, who loved alone caught inside the Bell Jar. The starry starry nights is not just of Vincent's asylum room at Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. There is a bit of Sylvia in you. There is a bit of Vincent in you. And those are the bits that perhaps the world doesn't understand. And those are perhaps the bits of the jigsaw that make up what we term as Depression. 

I have met people who have faced issues adjusting to a world that doesnt understand them. But just because the world doesn't understand their worldview doesn't mean that their perceptions of the world are not real. They are very real and tangible. In this project I have attempted to translate the voices of four such individuals who are currently undergoing either therapy or medical treatment because of accute depression. They are all deeply affected and my role lies only in helping them find solace. In these four poems, I capture four distinct voices and Vaivaswat Tyagi has created artwork to compliment them, enhance and accentuate them - perhaps ours words and strokes will help you understand how real Depression is, how real mental health is. 

Just because you can't see it, doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Just because you can't comprehend it now, doesn't mean it has no meaning. Just because you can't be a Sylvia gazing at starry starry nights Vincent created doesn't mean there can be no one who can. 

And perhaps our small project will help you fathom how different and difficult world can be for them who are dealing with mental health issues and perhaps you will be kinder and less harsh. Perhaps you will be able to empathize - after all that is what we attempt.

Forgetting love

In the fall of a forgotten year it was my breast

that fell in love with those fingers 

that twirled around my peaking areola

I loved all who desired me.

Maple leaves and love went hand in hand.

In spring another year it was my mind

that fell in love with them who wrote

a word or two that was far too wise

for an untrained mind to comprehend 

I loved all who made me feel intelligent. 

I made love in laboratories

after the institutions shut the gates.

Another year still I dont recall which it was

I fell in love with my heart

that longed to flutter for fluttering sake

I was counting stars and falling in love

With any I fancied for no reason

Loving was a sport as plebian as hopscotch. 

I seldom know how I fall in love - when, why, with whom, and how many

if falling in love is still in vogue 

or is that a fashion fad that is changing still,

I have seen sunrises in the middle of the night

and darkness in the morning

I forget the place in my body where love lives.

Pure Sin 

I live under a bed with the lover I took up but no I can not tell anyone that I took up a lover. I can say I live under a bed  for all who live under the bed are disenfranchized and marginalized but hell, loving! Do not love. Loving is pure sin. I love under a bed where you do not see my lips, you do not hear my screams, you do not feel my ecstasy, you do not taste my saliva, you do not smell my blood, for under the bed, I have my sky. I do not reject that you choose to 'do not' me for if you do me, you do sin.

On judgement day, say

"Father, forgive her for she

knows not what she does".

Hymns of the Night

Just before it strikes twelve

for hours I sing to myself,

I count sheep, I count stars, I count all my disappointments,

I sing of everything I could be but am not

I count tears, I count fears, I count all my failures. 

Shadows come creeping close, closer they get by the minute,

Every night I cant breathe, every night I strangle,

Every night I die.

When I thrust my face in the pillow to pray

chanting a million times

perhaps god will save me tonight

I drift away in angelic light, I cry for night shade and I sleep.


Still song

I bathe in milk, I lie up dreams

smothered in molten gold and music of the spheres

I worship me in songs as epitome of beauty

And all of them gods-

that of knowledge, logic and reason

that of the moon, magic and wisdom

that of secrets, of alphabets, 

that of meditation, mind and hieroglyphics,

All of them gods they worship me as beauty

They worship me in songs,

I lie eternally encased in a tomb of love and beauty,

And Mark,

Mark my words - you will too

for I'm Cleopatra, taste me.


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