“Getting better and better” – Nayana Nair

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I don’t trust myself with water these days. Of late I have found my arms devoid of the will to struggle. I seem to be getting better and better at abandoning myself.

I now only stand rooted at places where life comes easy. I only linger in spaces where not-breathing is more difficult than breathing. Against my best efforts, all I do is try to live.

The ways to live, the painful familiarity of the world, this stone stuck in my shoe, pressing against my sole, it all used to be unbearable. For long I tried to find a way to live with it. I always failed to find its use.

But now I know how to surround myself in the suffocation of it all, to fill my mind with the smoke of this crude life as I learn to see from scratch again. Hold parts of me captive somewhere, till the rest of me can chip away at my spirit that only sings of blood and end.

Today, in the hot summer afternoon, covered in breaking illusions, I walked away from the lake where my past swims. I learnt of one more pain. I found a road I had never seen, a garden never tended to, a foot of mountain where there was abundance of fruits and all new reasons to live.

“To stay” – Nayana Nair

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The city of wax and sun was,
for the lack of better words,
like living in a home that will vanish
and does vanish-
the vanishing always a spectacle and a sorrow.
The nights were all about
breathing religiously every second
to catch a brick, a bell, a railing to hold onto,
the dear gods carved in stones,
the plate touched by my mother.
Breathing in again and again
and coming up all empty,
we used to wait for sun and dread its heat
always worried and excited
about the drops and vapors we would catch
and all that we were going to lose.
Since nothing apart from the breathing would survive,
since the new-born stone and grass
knew nothing of death or its mark,
there never was a funeral,
no graves, no photographs to devote our tears to.
All our oceans would rise within us
falling at the steps, the stones, the memories
of everything that cannot prove its reason to stay
anymore.

“The step before silence” – Nayana Nair

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The abyss holds a celebration today.
There is a relentless sound
of chatter and song,
of footsteps walking out of sync
heading this way.

This way, this place
where we have always been stuck
a step before the end, a word before silence.
This desolate space,
where we live and breathe
and learn to never rely on lungs or love,
it is a festival here.

The balloons of hope
are learning to fly in this heavier air.
Small innocent hands are sculpting
something better than hell
out of all this fire and light.
So much is possible today.
Anything can be lived.

Today the empty cold sky looks down with envy
at all that should have been unbearable.
Today I look down at myself
and see something lovable in everything
that made my heart crumble once.

“nothing more, nothing else.” – Nayana Nair

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the last time i was young,
i was as young as the numbers i colored
on his last birthday card.
i remember the burning of birds
that followed our song of hope.

since then nothing was the same.
“the innocent” and “the sweet”
were the monsters that we killed
in the forests that grew in our house.
we killed a lot. we killed plenty.

hours swelled into years into decades
at every tear i tried to hide.
everything i tried to hide
grew as me, grew into me.

he grew into half a monster of kindness.
he devolved into an angel wielding my fear with smile.
it was the truest of love, without any doubt.
it was the only love of the world. the only one i would ever have.
knowing that helped. it helped me wish for nothing more, nothing else.

i grew my claws into the gentlest shapes.
i grew every contradiction in subtle ways.
i grew them nonetheless. that is how i hid.
in the light of his skin, my eyes learnt to love darkness
and yet when the day came, he asked me
to become someone from his memory,
someone untouched from the poison of our world.

he would pester me like a child
to show once again the trick of undoing,
to show the skin i hid from his fear,
to show the heart that he cannot accept.

“gentle things always begged for my fury”
he had said that once.
i remember the threat that lurked under his voice,
in that moment. in that moment,
i remember curling into myself in time,
before he learnt i was all that he couldn’t stand.
i remember choosing him foolishly.
i remember the violence of being chosen.

“what has changed”
i ask in my newest disinterested voice
and he smiled as if he was really not here.
his eyes looked at me as if i was already long gone,
as if he knew my every truth.
he reached out his hand and instead of new blood
i felt his new breaking.

“for a minute i am tempted to believe in this world”
he said in the voice we used to sing all our songs in.
and because i knew better. because i knew fear.
because i couldn’t lose my hidden flesh of hope
to entertain his momentary half-hearted wish to reform
i replied “there is nothing to believe.
there is only blood and flesh and lifeless spoils of war in me.
do you want to be free of me now?
why are asking for things i can never be, never give?”

i feigned hurt and looked at him
till he had to look away and laugh.
his laugh was filled, was welling
with something unfamiliar.
he looked in every direction but mine
as if letting me breathe in the relief of not being found
and the breathe out the disappointment of losing something unreachable again.
but i didn’t dare to breathe.

“Listen and Obey and Lie and Pretend” – Nayana Nair

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Old dreams,
the old warm sweaters of dreams-
today is the day for burning them.
Someone hands me a matchstick,
hands me the common sense
of creating necessary ends.
And like the more faithful student I am
I listen and obey
and pour the flame on the fishes that are still caught
in the net of my dreams.
I pour the flame on the neck, on the wings
of the deity that sleeps in me.
And like the betrayer that I am
I clap and smile with ones who hold my hand,
the ones I must pacify, the ones I must give in to.
But I breathe in again the seeds of wishful thinking.
The air is filled with them-
with the tiny rebellions, with the stolen chances,
with all that isn’t but threatens everything that is.
The air is filled with hope, with freedom,
with everything beautiful and dangerous.
I smile knowing the demons I have set free.

“maybe i’ll never know better” – Nayana Nair

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the paper flowers in her hair
breathe for that one time
and wilt away.

she keeps walking,
keeps drinking
the colored sweet drink

with the bitter cold metal
melting her lips,
the taste of afternoon welded to her tongue.

her hands never rest, never stay still.
they twirl their laughter
around my fingers .

they find my shoulder, they color my cheeks.
they grow beaks, sprout wings; they rest on my elbow
and pecks at my tiny songs, my pale lips.

a rainbow is born in me, a wall collapses,
and again i forget the rust and the death, the lesson of danger
of fruitless love that i promised to remember all my life.

“I think of you” – Nayana Nair

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On this new morning, as this new cold finds my old bones,
I think of you.

Today when your name surfaces on the silent lake
I do not row towards it, I do not push it down.

I stare and breathe as the water moves
you and me.

I stare, without making my knuckles red,
without holding onto you or myself.

The mist of time and the storms of words-not-meant
they rise and settle and we part,

just as we rehearsed,
just as we have performed a thousand times in life.

I look back and see only a sunrise of a color you’d like.
I float a thank you, a broken oar towards you,

a hope for your life and some peace for mine.
All that I have loved has been eaten away by time.

Your body, your mind is now broken
into thousand scattered restless dots of dust

so when I think of you, in my mind
you are the life of the light. So unlike your presence in my life.

You remain that even as I lose my grasp
over the meaning and texture of love.

I forget what we were really like.
So I often get to miss you. You often make me smile.

“I hope for them to not see and not know”- Nayana Nair

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The river rises,
another flood is here
and I haven’t yet learnt to swim.
My friends are again at my door.
They knock, then they start crying.
They tell me about the happiness I can’t see,
they try to predict what you
would have wanted me to be,
and all I can do is laugh at it all.

My laugh, it must be as frightening to them as my tears now.
For even as they send me pics of kittens and quotes,
and stories saved from fire, stories filled with hope,
I hear their panic from the other side.
They know that just taking your name
had undone the strength
they tried to feed me for months.

And since now they can’t breathe
everytime I close my door, everytime I refuse to speak –
I am another hell to them.
And since I can’t let them break over me –
they are another pillow pressing on my face.

I hope for them to let me own my sadness.
I hope for them to not see and not know my pain.
But they do, they feel so much of me
that I have to open the door,
that I have to let them hold my hands.

I tell them that I’ll live no matter what
and they still tell me that it is not enough-
they want me to be who I was.
I can only smile at their cruel hopes for me.

“Beautiful broken railings” – Nayana Nair

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I have eyes only for you.

I have broken railings,
I have erased all the warnings,
I have planted the seeds of wanting,
wanting more of you.

I have learnt to give into
the feeling,
of hoping to see and breathe
and live through
whatever it means to be with you.

Even though I am of this world
and hence hateable because of that,
guilty because of that.
Can’t you love me
as if I am the same as you?

Do you really know what I feel
when I say
I only have you.

“In the forest of reality” – Nayana Nair

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Ghost of fireflies
in the forest of reality-
that is me,
that is you,
that is so much of what we don’t want to be.
But if it has to stay beautiful,
if it has to stay clean,
it must be this.

We must meet without meeting.
We must love without loving.
We must walk this path that we believe in
more than we believe in any love.

I close my eyes and tell myself,
“I don’t believe, I won’t believe”
even as the storms of despair
and the clear sky of your existence
are the only thing I know to be true.

You tell me,
“We must breathe the reality
and worship the fleeting.”
So I hold my hands together
again without a prayer on my lips.

I am afraid of prayers.
Unlike you (or maybe just like you)
I am always at the verge of wishing
for some real crumbs of you,
of wanting to stray from the “right”.