“The Right Way” – Nayana Nair

.

The monsters brought their shadows
as they climbed into my bed
and I gave them stories
that promised to make them human again.
I had talked them into the idea
of change and love and the broken petal
that became a flower overnight
in the embrace of a care so fierce it
that nothing in the world could stay broken
once they knew its warmth
;
just liked they talked me into
the ideas of strength and hiding and the stones
that teach the skin of blood, bruise and eventually a strength
so stubborn that it can never be separated
from our bodies, our sorrows, and our will to fight
.
But many hours and a sleep and a love later
we still found ourselves staring at the
broken windows of hope,
and the stone of disappointments
melting in the morning light like snow.
Each half of our heart now wouldn’t stop crying
and begging for the other half to change.
Every part of us was now contending with each other
on the monopoly of truth, the right way to love,
and the safe ways to die. Our surety of self was evaporating
faster than ever. We were being broken from inside,
scattered for good, while our skins now knew the same battles
of keep up a form, keeping our reality hidden.
But now we could at least now sit in a room
and look each other in eye and smile,
knowing we could never be separate from each other.
Knowing there is no hell or heaven we would go to alone,
no forgiveness only granted to one.
There was no sin or or grace in this kingdom of cries,
there is no beautiful escape from this knowledge of life.

“Another mistake of the same kind” – Nayana Nair

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how many times
have we walked like this
on roads far away from our homes
even as the only thing we dreamed of
was the warmth we were leaving behind?

the memory of love
fades slowly with the last light.
how many times have we regretted
not looking back?

how often have we chosen silence
over words that can fix everything?

“Shouldn’t that put me at ease?” – Nayana Nair

.

The skin of the prophets and lovers
hangs with the fresh laundry.
The dices and glasses lie forgotten
in the broken and mutated stomachs of our pet fishes.
A pot of porridge sits on the blue counter.
The potatoes, the rice, the marbled peas grow soil,
grow eyes, grow tongue, grow memories that never were.
The imitations of porcelain crack under the weight of life.
It never used to be like that.

Life used to be small and delicate and beautifully framed
within the carefully drawn floral boundaries of plates,
within the pools of small spoons.
Life is no longer like that.
Now the book of tales burn
with the missing ladles
and fake money of games no one knows how to play.
Every piece of wood, every piece of our soul,
anything that burns, only burns only what we love.
Only what we love gets to die here.

Shouldn’t that put me at ease?
That something gets to escape this world.
But all that dying,
the small pieces scraped off again and again.
Isn’t that how we got to this-
this place where even pain is dull,
where even the hopelessness doesn’t come with a heartbreak.

“Chorus” – Nayana Nair

.

Sometimes when I forget to live, to see ahead,
I find myself back again in the house of wood
beside my child made of sand.
He looks like me most of the days,
sometimes she looks like him.
They are often speaking like chorus of brokenness.

Some days they tell me that they are not mine,
that they are not children, that I am not me.
I ask them
then why do I feel the way I do?
why do I hurt the way I hurt?
And hearing this
they become the sand that I can only cry upon.
They don’t come alive
until another time.

But until that, I must be me,
and see things not being themselves.
The sand that was a life a second ago,
it melts, it grows wings
and opens its eyes and burns as sun.

Sometimes it opens it eyes and starts crying in my arms.
It tears my skin, it makes me smile
all my dying parts wake up
but in a world where no such beautiful haunting exists
where I have no reasons to cry
only tears that never stop.

“But it also means…” – Nayana Nair

.

I guess now I am the cruel one-
the one people fear to love.
This scenario was meant to be sad,
but it isn’t somehow.
(Why do the worst cases taste so bland to me
when finally they arrive?)

I guess it makes me relieved, if not happy,
to feel loneliness more often than feeling distance.
No one knocks at my door,
and I can’t help but smile
knowing it also means no would leave me.
No one would leave me in love, leave me in pieces,
leave me hating myself again.
(Why do my hopes sound like running away
even if I am facing life in every way I can,
the only way I am allowed to,
the only way forward that doesn’t require
sacrificing myself again?)

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

.

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.

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

.

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.

“The door opens slowly” – Nayana Nair

I turned another corner
and walked into another house
that I knew nothing about.
The owner, the god of this land stood there
outside in the garden
telling a child how to create more beautiful loops,
how to somersault,
how to find more worms, more of everything.
An adult placed like a talisman
that couldn’t keep me
or what I bring with me away.
He didn’t even notice the grave that I carried in me,
the open pits in ground awaiting more bodies.

I walked to the front door and rang the bell
thinking, wondering what must I not be seeing
in the person I see as a fool.
I wonder if the graves in him didn’t love him back as well.
The door opens slowly and I wait.
I let my willingness to wait announce to her that it is me.
She makes me a wait a bit more-
that is the nature of game we are caught in.

Seconds and hours I spend on her couch,
waiting for the commotion outside to end,
for “the happy family on a sunday morning” to end.
She has four brother
and an almost sister that they never talk about.
She reminds me this a few more times
so that on the mental map of belonging and similarities
I find this unnamed sister closer to my role.

They rush in like a flood, like a rain gone wrong-
all these bodies that I am not supposed to see.
“They are perfect”, I thought to myself.
I thought of my mother, the anger in my home,
the counting of countless miseries,
the coarse harsh words that filled my eyes, then filled my mouth,
the gentle sunsets that drown only dreams.
“They are perfect”, I think, “for someone living in the same world as me”.

She tells them about my scholarships, about my fragile upbringing,
about the art that runs in me.
She tells them all about the things that they like.
For today she has made them into me.
I smile and say a little too less.
I smile as if I mean no harm.

But I know
I am here.
I am here and there is no escape
from the fact that eventually
I will sit in this room with my love
and with a glitter pen running out of ink.
I will draw, deepen the cracks that I already see.

Such is my nature.
Such are the songs that I live on repeat.

“On Erasing Roads” – Nayana Nair

The dead world lives through her.
Her escape is a door left open
for the violence to spread,
or so she always believed.
When she saw someone who reminded her of love,
saw that the fragile bird of happiness
would choose sit by her window and wait for her to sing back,
when all that could make her feel safe and somehow better
smiled at her and asked her name.
She would remember how from her skin and her mind
grew trees of fear every night.
The flood that has left her land
loomed above this forest.
Anytime the cloud would burst,
the past would burst through her smile,
and all would be lost.
Today, tomorrow, day after,
on an afternoon when she would forget about it all,
on a beautiful day like that
she knows she will find sorrow again.
So she stays quiet and writes a softer tragedy
of a girl who could never tell her name
to anyone who chose her hoping for happiness.

this is not how i should be – Nayana Nair

I hate to admit this to myself
but I can’t quite understand you.
At worst, I judge your unreasonable feelings
and your self-indulgence.
Often I step away and try hard to feel your pain
and yet it escapes me.
Whatever I imagine is the landscape of your heart is,
it is never quite correct.
Something really important,
probably a loss that I have never faced,
is missing from my understanding.
“this is not how i should be”-
I end up thinking this every time when I think of you.
When you say “you won’t understand”,
I once again realize how insufficient I am.
Because you are right.
Because I can’t understand.
I wonder if one day I can do something more than just loving you.
I wonder if one day I can see you as you want to be seen.