“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 peace 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.

“At the end of this list” – Nayana Nair

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I tried being cool about it.
I tried not to call it a heartbreak.
I tried forgiving.
I tried thinking ‘my life is not over’.
I even invented some feelings that can be talked about.
I entertained the stupid idea – “it’s all for the best”.
I fed it all I owned,
and soon I didn’t have much left to keep that play going.
I think there are still hundred things more
that I have not yet tried.
Maybe one of them would work.

Or maybe till I reach the end of this list,
I would probably forget
who I was or who you were,
and maybe you would just melt into my identity –
claiming 2% of my faults, causing 25% of my breakdowns,
the major reason for my suspiciousness,
the only reason I can’t seem to be myself.
Just like how I pick up all odd habits and mannerism
from people I don’t even recall,
will you end up
becoming things that I do without reason,
becoming my convenient excuse for turning my back
on anything that can become
more important that me in my own life.

“as if nightmares are fiction” – Nayana Nair

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let’s break those darn mirrors.
lets not peek through the hands of fear.
let’s not see the monsters of sorrow.
remember not
where they walked and where they hide.
close your eyes and wait.

for what?

for the end.

there is an end?

there always is.

there are
ends that pierce through our our shoulder blades
and the blinds of our ribs.
it is actually beautiful to see how
heart melts away too easily, stops too easily
loses it way too easily.

also

there are
ends that make broken mirrors magnificent,
that smell like our mother,
that find our mouths at the dead of the night
and breathe in their last breath into our collapsing lungs.

it is sad to see how
our helplessness asks sacrifice from others
how we go back to sleep,
as if nightmares, once they end, are only fiction.
how we realize only after hours and years, wake up too late to notice
the blue hands, that once seeked us in storms,
decaying under the sunshine of the most beautiful day of our lives.

and what do you do then?

close your eyes and wait.

for what?

for the end

there is an end? even after this?

there always is
but maybe not the one we want.

“Something is wrong with our core” – Nayana Nair

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At my core is a sickness-
something hideous and wanting attention,
always wanting attention,
your attention.

Your attention
is like a net that catches everything of sea
including me, but there is no one there
on that broken boat of your body, to pull you or me
out of these cold waters.

Outside these cold waters
our dreams are running on pavements of romance.
They run on our feets, they smile with our teeth
but then you fold yourself around me
and in a shiverng language remind me
that they don’t have our hearts
and maybe that’s why they have been spared our fate.

“Named after stars” – Nayana Nair

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And if we are to delete, to remove,
to erase and whiten the papers
that are not a part of our hearts anymore,
then hand me the forms you want burned,
the words you wish you never heard,
and I’ll help you with your share of forgetting,
just like how you helped me memorize my own name once.

If we are to walk through the burning towns,
that we created with our own hands, which we named after stars,
to find something that is not poisoned by our time together,
then I’ll do the walking for you.

In a room filled with light
I imagine myself breaking apart, it will happen for sure,
but it doesn’t pain me yet.
But I fear the tears that will find your eyes,
the marks of flowing rivers, the civilization of sorrow
settling and flourishing on your face,
if you were to fall in love with something that is already lost.

I fear your loving nature.
I fear your heart to work for the impossible.
I fear you might see our past and mistake it for our future.
If you try to protect me even in our end,
I fear I will be left with no way out.

“Someday. I believed, someday you would…” – Nayana Nair

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Because I realized I had a bit more time
than what I had estimated,
I put down my newly purchased book
on “beautiful ends that have changed the color of sky
for a few minutes, if not more”.

I called back home
and told the stranger on phone my name,
so they would not mistake me for a hope that has come alive.
That is not how ends should be put in place.

But even then, even after taking such precautions
I couldn’t help but speak like their father who never looked them in eyes,
like their friend who walked away and never stopped, never returned,
like the silence of the night when they told me
I must make up for all the wrongs that still burns their heart.

I just wanted to tell them one true thing about me
one real thing they could hold in their mind, in the place of me.
But I held the phone tightly in my hands
and said the words that matter in this world- every word that is not about me.

For those who are always melting into themselves (unlike me)
that is probably the only right I could do.
Unlike me, who is just a ball of fur, all ‘I’s standing against the wind.
Unlike me, whose aches look like bubblegum and Sunday dress worn wrong.
I don’t like me. I wanted to say those words.
But they are already the first words in every chapter on ends.
They would end up knowing anyway.

I heard them utter a replacement of “love you”
and just nodded along as if they could see me.
They probably could, their love was unreasonable like that,
just like my love.
I ended the call and started at the last sentence I wanted to finish-
“Someday. I believed, someday you would…”
There were so many ways to end that sentence. Choose one ailment.
Choose one person to become and suffer as.
Give them one reason for the life suffering they are to begin.

I saw them sitting on an old sofa, watching the repeat telecast
of shows that make no sense. This time I felt they were waiting for me.
I felt they wanted my chaos. They wanted my hundred storms sitting beside them
to feel safe, to feel at ease.
I felt they would know I have come back for them
and maybe for a second would want to hold me as theirs, as a thanks.

“Someday. I believed, someday you would see me as a human who loved you too much.
I wanted to be much more than that. But the only answer that eases the knots in me
is your face untouched by tears of my name.”

Today it seems there would be no beautiful ends.
Only ugly continuation. Only you and me sitting and waiting
for this show to make sense.

“Every evidence of your existence”- Nayana Nair

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The evidence of your existence –
they sometimes sound like trapped bubbles in ice,
a song no one wants to remembers,
a song that wants to burn itself down
on the steps of justice gone wrong,
wanting to stain the white marble of temples
that do not deserve worship.

They sound like dying ambition amidst flying hopes,
a revolution coming apart,
a future with limping walk and kind careful words,
a future fleshed out with beautiful breaking and selfish hands.

You told me “selfish” is a beautiful word,
told me that in the opening sentence to the goodbye,
that I am supposed to shout after your vanishing back,
to make the word “selfish” the first word,
to speak of that word with a smile.
And let the world wonder why you wanted to burn the world
for what you have never known, what you couldn’t have;
to never explain your heart, to never let their magnifying glass
and their dear sun around your tearful smile.

“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.

“The Sun and the Sorrow” – Nayana Nair

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The sun and the sorrow
were in my eyes.
I couldn’t see your face
as you bent down
and carefully separated
your words of love
from the pieces of me.

When I am in sorrow
I try to imagine
what you could have looked like
as you carefully took back
everything of yours.
I imagine an ugly indifference,
sometimes I imagine a tear.
I don’t know what to do
with this “not knowing.”

But in these painful retellings
I feel relieved at this uncertainty
that sometimes lets me remember you
as the part of me that I couldn’t help but love
even in my breaking.
But I also feel relieved at the ease with which
I can draw that cruel expression on your face
which won’t let me stay in love with you
any longer than this.

“a piece of writing…that should have been me, but is not” – Nayana Nair

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I look out of windows of places that I want to escape
and only after 24 hours, only after 12 years
in a poem about crows, in an essay about public school,
in a story, in a ruin not mine
do I find the space to figure out, to sketch
what I would have thought of, if I allowed myself to think.
If I allowed myself to feel, what I would have loved,
what I would have gladly run away from.
The lives that I couldn’t start, the roles I couldn’t end
they leave my skin and become the masks they always were.
I carefully place these masks
on the words that have nothing to do with me
My words
they only hold the mould
that were too painful for me to confirm to or accept.