“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”.

“The closest far away” – Nayana Nair

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She let go of me
and took a step back,
as I ran around all the space
that would be me,
all the life that would be ours.

From far away – the closest far away,
she looked at my childish smile.
She smiled a bit more, and I felt that,
the lovely curves of her lips on my heart.
Her smile always miraculously
makes me breathe more easily.

In this room, in this warmest freedom
that she has weaved from the most colorful threads
of her spirit,
here, I see her for all she tries to be,
for all she is thereby.
Here, I want to be seen by her.
Here, I want to be something more than my wants,
something more meaningful than just free.

I move back into her embrace and ask her to take anything,
anything beautiful she finds in me,
to keep all my goodness, however few, in her care.
I wanted her to grace a part of me with her identity,
I wanted my existence to be inseparable from hers.
But her will, her love turned out to be greater than mine.
Even when I left a part of me in hers, she refused to call it hers,
the world punished me, for my greed, by calling her mine.

“The ground I won’t find” – Nayana Nair

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Even when I run away from you.
Even when I hate you from the depth of my heart-
the same depth where only you can breathe,
where I can allow no one but you.
Even then
you sit there, in front of me,
reminding me
how difficult it is
to destroy this love,
whose truth and strength
outlives
each sad, tragic moment that comes our way,
each moment of separation
that we are capable of creating from our ugly wants.
Once I couldn’t have imagined
the joy and frustration
of having a love like that.
A love that has no end
when end is all I want.
A love that tells me again and again
that I do not really know anything
and takes away the key of choice every time from my hands.
A love that will not even spare me to stay alive.
What a blessing! What a curse!
To have this bottomless hope.

“Names that feel weird on my lips” – Nayana Nair

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Now that I have grown in height
and I cannot forget my name
even if I want to,
no one comes looking for me
when I go missing.

When I go missing,
when I finally succeed in getting lost
I buy a new plant, walk through strange streets,
come back home with my worn out heels
and new pictures on phone,
takeouts from restaurants whose name
feels weird on my lips, knowing more roads
that can take me home.

I sit defeated and happy
as I realize getting lost means nothing
if I can breathe just fine in this world,
if everything here can be my home.

But still there is sadness in me
for losing everything
that only that small world could hold.

“I looked for you” – Nayana Nair

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In the orange forest of drowning suns
I saw your face in the light going out first.
I stood with my empty nets, on a boat, with oars
that won’t budge, won’t sail away from your closing eyes.
I played this only memory I had of you
throughout my journey back.
When my feet found a ground to breathe again,
you had already grown bigger, sadder, scarier,
sorrier presence in my life.

Through my dinner that night,
I thought up names you may have had,
the people you may have loved,
the heartaches you thought would never end.
I thought of how easily things end,
how nothing in our heart
can save our heart from this lonely end.
Were you thankful or sad that you had to know this,
to share this realization
with a stranger made of cold eyes and numb limbs?

That night I looked for your body in every ocean I had in me.
I don’t know what was the point of this search
but I knew I had to do something about you,
that my feet had to walk distances because of you,
that something in me must hurt more than it did now.
That finally I had to die with you,
to know what I don’t know now,
to know even a fraction of your pain.
I was sad and relieved that my need to know you
ended there – with that thought,
with the steps I cannot take.