“Version” – Nayana Nair

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Sometimes the hatred, the bias that
people around him smoked
sticks to his clothes, his skin, his tongue
when I come near him.
He can wash it from himself with a sleep.
He can leave it at the door, when he steps in.
But I can’t wash it out of my mind.

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In my mind
I mix up the person he is and the person he has to be.
But I realise that I do not know the person he is,
I only know the person he has to be for me,
I only resent the person he has to be for others.

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The person he is, looks at me from his corner of eyes
and this stranger looks at me
not across oceans, not across roads of fate,
but across the versions of us filling up the space between us,
the versions we can never throw away.

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This stranger looks at me and gives me the smile
that he has to wear for me.
For me to realise the love I have for the the days
I share with this person who spends his days with me,
loses his ways with me and grows old with me.
I smile back becoming the person I have to be for him,
becoming the version I love the most.

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