“a bird flies” – Nayana Nair

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a bird flies
a blue sky now has to break

a fish, a boat, a storm
has been caught in my dream

a fire must be lit, i must feed myself
to the gods of flames, to the goddesses of smoke,
to the cruel demigods made of ashes

i am awake
and now i must make up new words
new feelings, now i have to make myself a human
now i have to break in acceptable ways

i am facing a human who smiles at me
now i have to give up on half of my blood to stay here,
now my ashes have to nurture the roots of this tree
that wishes to be nothing else but a shadow on ground

“Silent Dazzle” – Nayana Nair

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The words are brittle
the ones they ask me to eat.
I was told this is how you forget
but it really doesn’t work.
It always leaves a mark on me,
claiming a bit more of me.
My throat would have shined,
would have dazzled the world,
if they could see the shards of glasses that
are stuck inside, that decorate my wind pipe.
Only I know how my voice and my hunger
makes its way out of this maze.
Like the thief in the movies
avoiding the lines of red,
I move within my body
slowly, carefully,
afraid if what I might encounter next.
Next to this fear… words and speaking
and performing in front of this world
seems easiest part of existing.
My words pushed out into the world
are always wounded and broken.
And they lie on the ground,
in the hands that feel strange,
already losing half of their bodies,
their meaning already taking its last breath.

To speak is to see myself die in the hands of other
and yet be spared, only to live a bit more,
only to utter the next word.

Another piece of glass added to my collection.
Another drop of blood shimmering at its end.

“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.

“Come and Kneel and Dream” – Nayana Nair

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Come and kneel here my child.
This is our new lord, our new god.

Come here and learn his face,
learn all things he doesn’t like to see in us.

Promise me that you will never try
to be a reflection of him, never hold him in your heart.

Even as you bow to him, to powers of cruelty
repeat to yourself again and again,

that no god ever killed freedom; no savior,
no beacon of light, no provider of grain owns your soul.

This is all that I have managed to do so far-
silently witnessing and persevering.

Cowardly, I have survived without giving in, without opposing,
without saving, without killing anyone, protecting just you and me.

To bow my head with tears in my eyes
is the only thing I could do with the strength the new gods left in me.

I do not know what to ask from you, what to teach you
but somehow you must outlive all those who prey on all things good.

My crimes of silence and tolerance leaves me no right
to speak of peace or love or future

but I feel fear and hope thinking of you.
You – who has never seen the world with open sky and kinder hearts

will either dream of a strength drawn out of blood of others
or you might just realize the value of everything that people call weak now.

Come and kneel here my child, in front of all those who teach us
to build our own prisons and build them bigger thrones.

All those who hold our lives hostage binding us with our own fear-
look at them and imagine a world where they don’t exist; not even within you.

“Shifting places” – Nayana Nair

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Somewhere far away, in the early hours
a window cracks by the shrieks of a woman.

Let’s wait, let it end, it will be nothing,
it will end up like all the other things made up in my mind.

It will end, it will end –
I chant under my breath.

But it doesn’t end.
Wave after wave, it rushes towards me, to the doors of reality.

And in response something in me cries back, something in me knocks back hard.
Now all I can think is – “I must run. If I run I can reach there.

If I run fast enough there will be little blood lost,
a little mind saved. If I run, I can make it in time before the worse begins.”

But the roads keep disappearing, the houses shift places, everyone laughs a little louder
as I move forward only to be yanked back and pulled down.

There is someone far away waiting for my help
and her flesh is just as weak as mine. Her throat must be sore, her heart must ache.

I wait and cry for an eternity
before I hear everyone walk away. Before I hear hope approaching.

Hope sounds like
wheels of a bicycle and the broken whistle of a kid.

It sounds like “are you alright? aren’t you cold?”
It looks with puzzled eyes at my clothes that are somewhat not right.

It tells me universal facts like
“if you lie there either cold will kill you or a oncoming truck”

Hope tells me I am not dead yet.
I hope she is alive as well.

“The places where I am not” – Nayana Nair

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Across this glass,
across the tired melting clouds of mist,
on the other side
there are trees and homes and forests
that are just like places on this side that I rest.

The places where I am not
look as sad as all the places I have been.
Everywhere, on every road there is always a person
who knows a way to break my heart,
and I always end up thanking them for it.

There are rooms where I put up
lights and posters and curtains
and lovers and music,
those are the rooms I want to die in-
with some beauty, with some consolation of meaning .

But always I find the reason for my end outside these walls.
Those reasons live under the brightest light on the darkest road.
And because I was told that the light that I don’t know of
is the one that saves all, even the hopeless ones like me.
So my legs forget how to stop,
my hands forget how to let go,
and my blood glitters for a moment under the light of lost hopes
before it turns black, before it invites in the cold
that I always thought belonged to the inanimate world.

I think of the room I won’t reach,
and the songs and the faces and this world
that I will not be given a piece of, to keep.

As the sky fills me up, pats me down,
and tucks me in the snow
across the white,
I feel someone stir from sleep.
The wail that my throat cannot make,
finds a home in that other world, in the other me
that unlike me
knows how to cry and how to be loved for it.

“The way complete beings find breaking” – Nayana Nair

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You look at me
and I look at you
the way broken things look at the hands of an angry god,
the way complete beings look down
at things that can never be their equal.

You and me, we take turns,
learning to feel pain, to give pain
reaching for the light in each other’s eyes,
making copies of each other’s memories
and spilling the ink on the originals.

You and me –
we are children left alone unsupervised with this steel instrument of love.
We now know of the blood and bone within our skin, thanks to this blade.
We now know how to keep distance when nothing keeps us apart.

When we lose our color, our teeth of milk and cruelty,
when the blade loses its shine
and looks like any other rust of this world,

only then we know the pain
of having walked past a life we could have had,

the journeys we could have walked,
the meaning we carried in ourselves for each other sake,
the meaning we never looked up
, never cared for.

“For this hell keeps me from breaking for bigger and worse questions” – Nayana Nair

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“We must break our bones and lives
to create another spark –
this is what we owe to this world”
the voice on other side of my dear old wall
told me, told us all again.
And because we must do something about it,
we kept ordering another heart, another mindset,
another way, another “desperate somehow”
till our hands never felt comfortable with anything that is not new.
Would we stop, could we stop
if someone told us
that we are more than our failures?
I wonder even if I could believe those words
I wonder if such words mean much in this world.

Even if there was another place
to start a life that doesn’t run over me every morning
on the tracks that keep changing their shape and place,
tracks where I am just a new layer of metal, another layer of blood
that won’t give up, that cannot die yet,
saying hello to the ones who wake up beside me
as if death is another sleep for which they cannot lose time.
Even in that place, I feel I would suffer trying to define
and find my place even if no one asks me to.

“Telling Signs” – Nayana Nair

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“Does rust affect plastic dreams?”
I ask my teacher in my sleep.
She takes out an axe and starts cutting down
the first mouth filled with wrong answers.
Two rows away
she wipes her brows and folds her sleeves,
she takes another deep breath
before she checks the attendance sheet
and finds the next dream to kill.

She tells me I should think more and ask more
and ask the questions that help me live.
She looks at the metal that grows out of my pores
and gives me another chance.
She says only if I would try to be better
than the people I am clinging to, I could grow up to be her.
I look away from the blood that flowing down her neck,
the parts of her that she intends to kill by holding other’s breath.

“What about my mother’s arms, weak weak exhausted arms?
Are those my telling signs?
Does that mean I don’t have to worry,
that I am just someone next in line?
What about you? Do you rust like me?
Would the color of my rust, would my weakened heart
make me worth protecting,
make me deserving of kinder words?

She told me “It will not get you respect or equality,
if that’s what you are looking for.
It can sure get you love, of some kind, for some time
but it is just a matter of time
before you see the end that only you can write.
And you would end up writing it
cause that painful end would be more truer and more yours
than any love that you find by compromise.”

As she walks past me, smiling lovingly,
as she spares my life, that now she owns.
As she dissolves my only way back,
I realize too late, that my chaos and my doubts
were more hopeful than an answer like this
that promises pain to everyone else but me.

“and soon it will be time” – Nayana Nair

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in her two storey house
my doll sleeps on her silk sheets
with a knife resting beside her.
it shines
as if newly delivered and never used,
as if sharpened hundred times,
as if it has known the pain of blood every night,
every night cleaned
under the deafening noise of running tap water.
the metal mixes with her fears, with her trembling hands.
something again slips from her grasp.
and now it is time for tears,
and it will be soon time
for cycles of search and paranoia.
there is a time for every madness in her mind.
there is always a calm wait
before she reaches the next stage of hopelessness.
there is always a party hosted at the dead end of her lives
where she takes another drink,
and finds hands filled with warmth
and eyes that like the color of her healing skin,
the burned tips of her tongue, and her swallowed words equally.
but someone utters the wrong word,
looks at her the wrong way,
leaves the taps water, filled with smell of blood,
running in her mind again,
and again she lunges for the
the knife that fits in her hand better than any hope
and again she ends the song of her lover,
again she wakes up alone.