“could-have-beens” – Nayana Nair

when saw my skin, i saw only cracks
cracks that would have looked worse
if i could see better.
i wanted to look away
but all i could do was think-
age is creeping up on me
slowly and cruelly
and you are not here.

i think of all the things
i can never have now.
things i meant to do everyday
things i put off, delayed
because you needed time.
all the things i denied myself
because i wanted to wait for you.

but the weight of things i have given up
seems to have increased exponentially
since you learnt to change your mind.

so me and my could-have-beens
we sit at different tables in the same world,
looking at each other with disappointment.
how ridiculous is this
that i am waiting,
even when there is no one to wait for,
even when i know that running away
was the only thing you could be relied upon for.


  1. ESP says:

    the weight of the things we have given up is indeed never justified by what we gave them up for, but only in retrospective.

    1. Nayana Nair says:

      True. Such clarity only comes when we look back. πŸ™‚

      1. ESP says:

        So dont look back? face the reader and not the wall πŸ™‚ the sketches look great.

  2. i liked this poem, really liked it. Especially the cutting wit. It made me poignantly sympathize with the narrator, too.

    It seems so unfair that women age. Men, most folks don’t much care if we age — so long as we don’t get really old. But women everyone seems believe it’s some kind of moral flaw for them to age. Seems so unfair, to me.

    My mom had a reputation in our small community as a good counselor, a good person for advice on many matters. She just grew in reputation as she grew older. At 90, with her brilliant white hair, she even looked like a sage!

    1. Nayana Nair says:

      I agree with you. For some reason women are supposed to do certain things by certain age. And you end up being labelled as a failure if you do not meet up with them.
      Get married by this age, have children by this age,… etc. Sounds unfair. The elders say that the biological clock for women is what causes them concern, which doesn’t really apply for men.
      But it is sad, that age instead of being considered something that brings positive things like wisdom or experience, age becomes a reminder of how much you are lagging, how much you need to cover up. The schedule that we must stick to even at the risk of forgetting our life, thoughts and wants.
      Really glad that you liked my poem πŸ™‚
      Thanks Paul πŸ™‚

      1. I was reading awhile back that humans are only one of two species of mammal where the females typically live well beyond menopause. I think the other species are elephants. The scientists were speculating that humans and elephants both are exceptions to the rule because the women are so instrumental in providing guidance to the young, even when the young are adults. Perhaps you will recall elephant herds are lead by matriarchs. If the scientists have it right, then I would suspect the devaluation of older women is much more cultural than human nature. Just a thought.

      2. Nayana Nair says:

        That was really interesting to know πŸ™‚
        I also feel the same, that it could be more of a cultural thing. (maybe somehwat similar to how varna system changed to caste system for worse , in hinduism). Many a times we redefine what is right and wrong on the basis of our own convenience. What our culture dictates is just a reflection of self-interest of those in majority or those who have most power in that current structure of society. Sadly. 😦

  3. What a lovely, wistful piece! Me & my could’ve beens conversing…I can picture that!! Cheers, N, well done!

    1. Nayana Nair says:

      Thank you so much πŸ™‚
      Really glad that you liked it πŸ™‚

    1. Nayana Nair says:

      Thank you πŸ™‚ πŸ˜€

  4. Nayana, forgive my smile as I think of a young lady talking of age creeping up and what might or could have happened. I sit knowing that age has crept up on me, dealt me a pretty bad hand to finish my years, but as for what might have been, well I see it very differently. We can never turn back time, even in our minds, so what we do today is what really counts, what we hope to do becomes meaningful only if we have intent. My best years were long gone before I decided to write anything other than academic work and now I feel I just want to live and enjoy writing. I see opportunity and not despair. I must confess that even if I try and write a sad poem I find that I start and then realize my heart is not in it. So, you do not have to be cheerful and dancing with me, but celebrate your talent and write in the knowledge others might also enjoy πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

    1. Nayana Nair says:

      I know. Sometimes I also think that I am too young to write about such things, as they say big words in small mouths, something of that sort I guess. That is one of things I feel is wrong with me, but these are the only words that I can speak with honesty and with genuineness. Even if I try to write somethign cheerful, I realize my heart is not into it. I think it is the same when you try to write something sad. The summary of life we have lived, sometimes becomes our shell.
      But as I said, age does creep up on even the young. In our 20s we think that we have all the time in the world, but it is not so, we would only recognize the huge amount of time that has passed us by only when it is too late. I do believe in “sometimes it is too late”, though many don’t.
      For example, sometimes I think, if I had better focus, better understanding of what I wanted in life, there were thousand of things that I could have done, which now I cannot. I remember one line from a song that I like a lot -“youth is wasted on the young”. I think it has so much meaning. Even when I am walking home from my work, and I see a really old person walking slowly, with apparent difficulty in front of me. I think one day, before I know it, I would be in their place. But even when I am young, and I can run, I do not. I am just drragging my feet.
      I am not sure if I am explaining anything well right now. I am totally getting off the topic.
      But I can totally understand what you are saying. πŸ™‚
      Really glad that you like my work though πŸ™‚ Means a lot πŸ™‚ πŸ˜€

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