“A spring that tries to breathe” – Nayana Nair

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The ripples spread out and march
towards the far end of happiness.
They die and are born again
under the wish of my yet-to-break mind.
I am carried to the place that was never made for my sake
but yet seems to be made out of a piece of me, of my own heart.

The far end of everything
has this one branch and this one bird.
This one song that seems
to be something sent by the heavens,
something that can’t be given in my hands,
something too precious, too beautiful to be bestowed to me.
Maybe for a reason, that I will realize too late.
But how do I stop before that.

I am always at the far end of wanting.
The perfect distance to always be aware,
to know what could be and yet know what isn’t.
At this end also, inside me, inside this hollow haunting,
is also a tree, a bird, a song.
Even if made of dust
it is my own drowning lighthouse-
my only spring that tries to breathe, retain its humble peace
before I reach my ruin. Before I learn why I must give up
what I always knew I can’t have.

“prompts” – Nayana Nair

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i think of parasols.
i think of wearing my miniature body made of colorful frills,
holding my own soft innocence,
not like something that can be and will be lost
but like something that will never be destroyed,
like something one never gives a second thought about.
i think of never knowing fatigue, never resting.
my skin only knowing the sun.
i think of classrooms fitted with air coolers
i think of home and its beautiful cold floor
i think of places i knew i could always return to
once i was done with my playing, once i felt my hunger.
i think of the time that i lived not knowing not understanding
the appeal or the need of shadows.

i think of stones.
their small happy weight in my hands.
the deftness of my fingers and my wrist as i played.
my palm holding them together,
scattering them, collecting them.
my palm feeling the coldness of the evening,
knowing time through them.
i think of the stones that grew on the sides of broken roads
beside my source of earliest magic
-the touch-me-nots, the insects made of velvet,
and the lost fireflies.
i grew up in a broken forest
wearing stones as brittle as me.

i think of fruits.
their colors that i loved
even when i didn’t like what they were.
they tasted too mellow, too tame,
too transient to me.
their juices just carved a bit more hunger
in my stomach. my stomach that was already learning
to ask for more and more.
i carved their colors in my notebook.
i dreamt of drawing them up on my skin.
this was before i knew what a tattoo was,
before i learnt the dangers of carving things in you
that you possibly can’t love.

“What I want to say, what I want to ask is something else” – Nayana Nair

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Today I am glowing with your gentleness –
the miracle that I thought was lost for good.
Today all the songs are about
the open sky of your heart,
about the wind that blew through me to you,
through the rooms of your childhood,
through the ghosts in my eyes which you could see too,
through your ruffling shirt made of bluest words
enveloping me, making a new sun for me
with the easy way you leaned in,
with the kiss that reached me,
even in all my hiding places.
So sad no lips were involved, yet so beautiful
that I can remember it without
the memory and weight of flesh.
It pains me somedays, somedays makes me regret
all the things that vanished, all the good things
that almost happened, but didn’t.
But mostly it makes me proud
that I used up all my beautiful dreams on you.
Your smile, that I have never seen
but only felt in words,
was the most beautiful smile of this world.
You were more dear to me
than most of the world that I got to keep.
How sad
that I never got to tell you this.

“Love can only be a safe haven, if we keep this distance” – Nayana Nair

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There is a kind of spell
that doesn’t let love sink into my heart.
It keeps it all suspended
between the layers
of admiration and disbelief,
of trust and that nagging doubt
that I don’t really want to think about.

Like so many, I also believed
that this love-
the shining weakness of my heart,
is safe in the growing cavity of my chest.
That, if the world doesn’t touch me
and I do my part, and never reach out
as well,
then this will be my own small forever.

It will never be hollow
till I don’t test its reality.
It will okay, till I endure
the mocking laughter in my mind
and never think about anything else.
After all, how can I lose a feeling of my making
in a world where only I exist.

But in a world where only I exist
there is also nothing to distract me,
nothing to make me forget the imaginary nature
of my meaning,
nothing else can prevent the ripping apart,
nothing to support the falling structures.
And as I guessed, as I always knew
without ever wanting to admit –
it is just one another thing
incapable of being an eternal something.

This afterimage of another soul
that I try to indulge in,
couldn’t have been anything more than this anyway.
From here, this distance,
from where I can be seen favorably and loved deeply,
this distance
where I can summon in me the spirit of sacrifice
for the idea of this one pure love that I must protect at all cost,
this distance
that gives me a chance at love.

This distance also means
that love never touches
the rocks that my tears have turned into.
It also means that
in hiding everything vicious,
I have also hidden everything that could be me.

Somehow I have learnt to be okay with the fact
that this smile that I get, the kindness I receive
is because the weed that grows on me looks more beautiful
than I can ever be.
I have already dissolved in the earth
to sustain this beautiful face that I am determined
to be remembered for.
It is too late for sincerity.
Now even my hopes have been poisoned.

“Understanding freedom” – Nayana Nair

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He broke my shackles with his blood
and took my hand,
my weightless hand, my almost wings,
and held them in the warm embrace of his own prayer.

As my hands created ripples for my own amusement,
as my hands broke the bread that I would now get to eat,
as I looked at flowers for hours at leisure,
and sang wordless songs without the fear of being heard
-he cried.
It was beautiful and sort of silly – his tears.

He cries at the smallest things
yet is unfazed at the moments that require tears.
Like this farewell, where with a smile
he recites his memorized list of wishes,
he recites the feelings of hope he has for the ones before him.

He looks at me. He looks at us all
and says “you are free. this is now a game without masters.
this is now a world where you are as good,
as deserving of respect
as anyone you stand with or stand against.
you are free. live. live such that
you would need no one to remind you of that.”

As we cried, he told us that
disappearing is what he always meant to do
that wanting his shadow around,
seeking his approval, and following his words
would undo everything he has done in this world.
Yet our tears won’t stop.

We didn’t know if these tears were of desperation,
of relief, of love, of being abandoned,
of being left without directions or heads that could
do the work of seeing and thinking for us,
in return of our submission.
He told us it is sometimes okay not to know.
He said it is okay to hate him
if it helps us to find a way that is our own.

It broke me to hear that because
he spoke as if being okay with being hated for saving
was an essential part of being good.
It was sad that he had to smile when he said it
as if he was not free to cry or complain for something like that.
Or maybe I have not understood freedom yet.

“The roads that I promised never to walk on” – Nayana Nair

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There are so many things that I wait to see again
and none of them will do my heart any good.
There are mountains and flags and footsteps
all settled into the sleep, lost in this busy blue.
Some call it drowning. Some call it the end of things.
Some wait for it to rise and become the lonely peak once again.
Some like me float my boat on this ocean
all dressed in sad flashy optimism
with my poor eyesight and a grainy foresight
ready to cry.
Some like me wait for the things they fear,
wait for the things that break, that tear.

All beautiful things of past are now buried
under a common grave with no stone, no epitaph.
I can’t tell apart my love from theirs.
My growing years, my diminishing heart,
the roads that I promised never to walk on,
the hands I promised never to leave-
they call it theirs.
They hold it in their arms
whenever after years of aimless floating
their boat gets caught by a shadow
that wants them.

Meanwhile I am afraid of holding back anything
that tries to stop me. Every pull frightens me
that I might love something that is not mine
that I will never know if this happiness is just
my sickness of water, sickness of search and waiting.
I can never look anyone in the eye
in the fear of seeing someone else’s tears,
in the fear of seeing my own corruptibility reflected.

And yet I can’t seem to end this search
for there are so many things I fear I will never feel again
if I end it all here.
Though they happen to be the same things
that I am incapable of believing in ever again.

“Our knowing of faith” – Nayana Nair

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“What do you know of prayers?” she asked,
as she held my hands together within her own.
I asked her “Don’t you know anything about me?”
and there appeared another crack on her hands,
there bloomed another rose in her hair
there was another smile – the “looking down” smile,
“you don’t know any better” smile,
“you will soon thank me” smile,
“I know you hate my smile” smile.
I tried to imitate it, to drape it on my own face.
Cause even if it didn’t seem like that, I loved her smile.

I stared at her smile
wanting to save it somewhere in me. I stared
at her small beautiful parts
wanting to un-see the person she is in this moment.
I am always trying
to forget how suffocated these moments with her are.
I am always trying to forget
that with her words of love there was always a plea,
a suggestion, a manipulation – to make me something like her.

Would it make me seem pathetic, petty, or romantic?
if i called her a poison. Though everyone here is a poison,
even me, but she is a poison for me, the only poison
that works on me. The only one I didn’t want a death from.
She tells me about another deity I will never believe in.
She tells me a bit more about saving, about faith, about her own self
that can never be broken, how even breaking can’t end her now.
I wished she was right, I wished there would be never an end to her.

I wished for all kinds of ends for myself,
even the ones without her. But in no version
did I invent an agreeable version of her that will better for me.
She has to be herself. Whatever that might mean for me.
I wonder if there would come a day like that, a day when
she would love me like that. Do I even want a day like that?
Can I even tolerate a change in her?
Wouldn’t that break me more than anything?

I get up and say something about “better things to do”
and she says something about “the dangers to the faithless”
and I can only smile for now
at this weird, beautiful, messed up part of our life
at our of differences, knowing of love,
at our knowing of faith in different things that save us in their own ways.

“The Remaining Beautiful Sculpture” – Nayana Nair

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The houses are all empty, the roads deserted,
the remaining beautiful sculptures,
in the overgrown lawns of this plastic world,
have no eyes and no intent to save anyone.

Someone tells me my new lines
and I nod and wait for my voice to arrive.
Someone else opens my cage and you are also
somewhat released from your prison.
We walk the small distance of this model road,
revising the conditions of our freedom in our head.

You hold my hand and it feels like nothing.
How perfect. How hollow.
But soon the sun will rise and fill us with light.
Soon it would all be beautiful.
I almost wanted tell you,
“this emptiness is such a beautiful catalyst
for reckless beginnings”. But I guess you already knew.

As we all wait for the sun,
you tell me you have a name and I nodded.
I realized I could not say the same about myself anymore.
I realized much later that you never told what it is, your name.
A name is such a hollow thing, to be filled up by the person only later.
I don’t know the order of importance of things in this world.
So I guess this must be normal.

As the sun came out of hiding, I was filled with words again
and the words that I wrote in that first light was,
we both could write poems that can break worlds.
we could be so much more than this. and maybe we are.
maybe we want to be something less. something simple.
something harmless. but is that even possible?

As I wondered what your real words looked like,
I uttered the words I was told to,

the houses are all empty, the roads deserted,
the remaining beautiful sculptures ,
in the overgrown lawns of this plastic world,
have no eyes and no intent to save anyone.
i won’t save you. i will be just like others.
i will look at you and wonder. i will smile and forget.
i will love and forget.
but i will remember you in your crudest form.
you will exist in my vocabulary like waves and perfumes
and home and roads. but you will remain.
i will make sure of it.

And with all the conviction and gratitude you replied,

that is enough. i can be saved just by that.

I believed you so much in that moment
that I wanted to mean every word I spoke
and maybe that was the moment my love was born
for you.

“Yellow kills happiness” – Nayana Nair

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And across this street is my old home,
the one I won’t ever visit.
This year they have painted it yellow.
How sad is that, isn’t it?
My mother hated that color.
She said that yellow kills happiness.
She said such colors convinced even a happy person,
that their smile is not enough.
Her smile, as a rule, was mostly not enough for anyone
and it made sense to me that she would hate
to compete with her wallpapers, her furniture,
her mirror, her curtains – for the sake of validating
her existence and importance.

The woman who stole our lives years later – I heard her
telling my mother
that “she was an insecure woman, that she was bound to lose”.
As if she, who paints this house now
with horrible colors every year, knew what loss is.
My mother – she liked browns and greys and greens.
She grew life out of her blood.
She loved dearly and irrationally-
whenever she sat still
and saw at us smiling and playing,
she would break into tears.
We loved her more dearly for that.

She loved that house
and the man that owns it.
She hated herself a bit too much.
She tried not to
but saving her was a work she had to do by herself
-a tiring chore, no one wanted to be part of.
She brought us the most beautiful yellow frocks one day
and looked at us, trying to love something impossible through us.
She looked at us hoping that her love for one thing
could make her bear her hate for another.
Like a fool, she believed
that her trying would mean something to this world.

“Last Kindness” – Nayana Nair

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“You were almost my whole world”, he said,
waiting for me to say something-
an excuse, an apology, a lie that would make him
as important as I seem to be in his words.

His belated words are always beautiful,
his love always drips at the corners of every end
that I try to carve out of us.
Once it was an assurance to know all our ends are fake.

Once I was made of dreams,
once he was made of songs,
and now we are back to being mere flesh
that we can’t accept each other for.

Now we are pretty sure
we can live without dreams that hurt
and that there are other songs, better sounds
that won’t cut us up before we are dead.

Yet he tries to care for the one he no longer wants
as I try to stay silent for his sake, for my sake,
for an end that doesn’t drag on.
Or is it to look pitiful and arrogant in his eyes.
His eyes liked me best when I couldn’t be wavered,
when I seemed something more than just a needy heart.

I wonder why we try to look humans even as we part,
why we must show the faces we have grown to hate ourselves for
and act like lovers in pain, like this is the end of our lives.
When love was the last thing we needed,
seeing it was the only thing we were ever ready to give up on.