“Waiting for the fireworks to end” – Nayana Nair

In her loudest, happiest voice
she told me about
one of her near-death loves,
how she wished her skin
would stop keeping her alive.
She laughed at how we both
always find something awfully painful or ugly in common,
how we should probably never call each other
just to remind each other of the spite
that lives in our blood.

I moved her lackluster glass of
fake green mojito by an inch towards her
and looked past her
at the couple who sat closest to the sky.
The wind that touched them called out to me again,
reminded me about my trembling legs
and my heart that didn’t want to give up yesterday.

I told her about the fall – my bad decision,
my backing out again at the last minute-
another really bad decision.
I told her someone needs to lock me up
before I take any more decision
as I showed her my new skinned knee
and told her in detail about
all parts of me that were filled with pain even now
only because of that one moment
in which I wanted to live more than anything.

She walked towards the the railing
decorated with hearts that won’t light
and found herself a seat, placing her elbow
carefully away from the mess that
the ones in love left behind.
She waited for me to follow her as I always do.

I stood behind her and felt a fear
very similar to mine swimming in her mind.
I wanted to tell her, it will get better.
but I couldn’t. I wanted to believe in this,
in this hope for better;
if not for me, at least for her.
And I knew she had nothing to say now
because her throat was also crowded by the words
she doesn’t believe. We are painfully alike
even in our search for hope, even when we are searching it
for each other.

“Eventual Fall” – Nayana Nair

She just laughed and said
“you are not really intelligent,
you know that right?”
as she packed her bag,
making space for her only notebook, with difficulty.
I wonder if she really needs all those the things.
She is not a careful person,
I know that because her list of priorities is horizontal-
everything is important, everything is equally dispensable.
I hear a song breaking at the bottom of her lungs,
when she talks of the new thing that she will love forever
when I know she won’t.

She lets me know for my own good “geniuses are not made by effort,
love doesn’t happen by hard work,
quit swimming and struggling when you are on land.”
She takes me by hand, teaching me how to walk,
teaching me her pace.
Her pace unsettles me. She gives cruel names
to my innocent actions as she smiles.
She smiles at me while I wait for my forever to end.
And only because I hate myself
for not wanting to love her sometimes
I smile back.

I wonder how far my determination can take us.
As she finally boards the train home, after missing out on a few,
she says “stop struggling, when i am with you,
i know your heart, even when you don’t.
it hurts to see you like this,
things will eventually fall in their place.”
I wonder if she is pushing herself, within the limits of who she is,
to save something of us, to save something of me.
I wonder how she can love me, if she knows how petty my heart is.
And because I do not know the answers to her,
I wait for us to fall into the places.
I think of her and find it easier, this wait.

“Eavesdrop” – Nayana Nair

From my empty room,
from the edge of my personal cliff,
I looked into the windows of strangers,
looked over their shoulder at texts they write,
looked at the pages where their bookmark rests,
silently waited at the edge of my chair
trying to overhear responses to the big questions.

And all I have known by prying so hard
is that there is nothing there.
Nothing in the text that could pass for shorthand.
The same book rests on the same table for years,
serving only the role of a carefully thought out accessory.
No question is big enough to be carefully considered.
No relationship is important enough to be held to heart.
That I was foolish to believe otherwise till now.
That I am putting myself on another path to heartbreak
if I do not believe in the night that I see.
I must unlearn the way I have lived
to find a place to belong.

In between the cold beginning and cruel ends
that are the parentheses of our lives,
there is nothing for me to hang on to.
But it helps to know
that there are plenty of empty rooms in this painful smaller eternity,
that I need not kill myself over an emptiness so common.
And it is really difficult to feel alone once I know that.

“My place in this cruel landscape” – Nayana Nair

when i stood

in front of the respected uncaring adults
who could never see me,

beside the fickle-minded fun-seeking friends
who smoked ‘idgaf attitude’ every night,

holding the hands
of the demanding demeaning frightening voice
of the one i wanted to love,
the one i almost loved,

i knew how to smile.
i knew how to let them off the hook.
i knew how to care for all those
who don’t have to care for such things.

and so i make it through another day,
another month, another year,
trying not to break anyone anymore,
trying not to abandon anyone,

making a list of all things that were once beautiful about them,
convinced that this imperfect me deserves only suffocating relationships,
careful not to see hope in any short-lived moment of affection.

“Less Than Half” – Nayana Nair

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The moment I pass any door
a part of my brain whispers-
too many people,
watch you step and watch your tongue,
lest you want to be branded as one of those women
that you are are and aren’t at the same time.
For if you are not careful enough
you will soon believe everything that people say about you
as you are doing right now.
Right now only half of you exist in this body.
I know this because that is what I was calculating
in the class of areas and volumes,
as teacher taught how we determine
the volume the water left at in a cylinder of flesh
once it starts leaking from all the words that have pierced it.
Or that’s what I heard at least.
I got had good score for that class
and I got called many more names.
A little more of me seeped out
and now I am less than half of what I was.
I know this because I have lost my friends
(maybe they see I am no longer me).
I know this because my heart no longer protests
when I hear people calling me by wrong names.

“Poster” – Nayana Nair

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I thought I would only have one poster
when I decided to clearly define what I am.
I stuck it up only after careful consideration.
Consideration of the space it takes.
Consideration of the how much I am allowed to grow.
Condsideration for the things that will be hidden away and
lost under the layer of this paper,
which is necessary
maybe only for me.
And soon when my smile changed a bit,
I had to get new poster.
When I could no longer sing along to my favoutite song,
I had to get a new poster.
When my legs became more noticeable than my words,
I had to get a new poster.
When my dreams felt hollow, I had to get a new poster.
But the soon I ran short of space.
Soon the only way to continue seeing myself for what I am
was to cover up what I was once.
To make space for another me
to exist another day.
All this
so that I do not wake up one morning
not knowing who I am.

“Other ‘Almost’s” – Nayana Nair

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Sometimes you find me the words
that I am too tired to look for.
And place it in my hand
with such careful touch,
that I feel I could almost cry.
And that too will be added
to the list of other ‘almost’s
that my life has lived through.
These moments become a house
standing at the shore of my simple wants.
I find myself thinking,
“This could be my home.
I can bear life here.
I can even get used to it.”
I am glad that I have such a place
to think about,
to look back.
Even if my feets don’t agree
to what my heart wants.