“Come and Kneel and Dream” – Nayana Nair

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Come and kneel here my child.
This is our new lord, our new god.

Come here and learn his face,
learn all things he doesn’t like to see in us.

Promise me that you will never try
to be a reflection of him, never hold him in your heart.

Even as you bow to him, to powers of cruelty
repeat to yourself again and again,

that no god ever killed freedom; no savior,
no beacon of light, no provider of grain owns your soul.

This is all that I have managed to do so far-
silently witnessing and persevering.

Cowardly, I have survived without giving in, without opposing,
without saving, without killing anyone, protecting just you and me.

To bow my head with tears in my eyes
is the only thing I could do with the strength the new gods left in me.

I do not know what to ask from you, what to teach you
but somehow you must outlive all those who prey on all things good.

My crimes of silence and tolerance leaves me no right
to speak of peace or love or future

but I feel fear and hope thinking of you.
You – who has never seen the world with open sky and kinder hearts

will either dream of a strength drawn out of blood of others
or you might just realize the value of everything that people call weak now.

Come and kneel here my child, in front of all those who teach us
to build our own prisons and build them bigger thrones.

All those who hold our lives hostage binding us with our own fear-
look at them and imagine a world where they don’t exist; not even within you.

“But maybe because it is you, you won’t laugh if I told you” – Nayana Nair

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Of all that I miss,
out of every

“I had it when I didn’t need it,
when I wasn’t ready to face my own needing, cause
my feelings for the delicate and genuine seemed hateful to me”,

out of everything that I tried not to know,
you are the one most precious to me.
Mostly it is because I didn’t really look at you
so I have only these regrets
to measure what you were.

And my regrets grow heavier
with every encounter I have with this world
that is filled with people like me.
My regrets grow heavier
even though I was so well suited, so ready
to live and thrive in this real world, where you were destined
to fail and wither and lose all that false light your prized.

My regrets grow heavier,
the more I realize how much this world needs
you and your friends,
with your false beautiful ideals sewed on your skins.
You would laugh if I told you
about the people I meet everyday,
people like me who can’t come in terms
with the world they have chosen.
I face their expecting eyes,
I feel their hands searching in me
for a glimpse of the world they have burnt.
But maybe because it is you, you won’t laugh at it.
Maybe you’d cry, cry in our stead,
cry for all that we cannot cry for.

When they search for miracles in me
I feel like a house with hidden doors and floors
with bodies holding goodness lying breathless within.
I fear when they find you behind every door-
a miracle with your face, an end with your smile-
then even these regrets won’t be mine.

So I try to be of use to them
all the time hoping
that they find the face of kindness only they know of,
only they miss, the one only they want back.
So that at least our mad hopes, will remain our own till the end.
So that we gain nothing but remember everything
and that remembering makes our hands, our hearts soft and breakable
and beautiful like yours, like everyone else like you
who did a world a favor by just existing.

“The truth doesn’t matter to me” – Nayana Nair

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And when asked if my words could be relied on,
if what I wrote was true.
I answered, “My life doesn’t know truth
as much as it knows love.
But when it comes to love, my words fails me,
I fail myself, before anyone else.
Failing is nothing to be proud of
and failing in love is like filling oneself
with doubts and faults that never existed before.
I can never be myself again.
My standing up or my lying defeated
may make a difference to the world,
my truth might matter to the everyone else
but not to me.

To me, what matters is already lost.
Now I just get to live a life of pretense –
play house, play life, play hearts
with people who seek truth in wrong places- in me.
If I asked if you can be relied on,
if you know the meaning of words you speak.
You might answer yes to keep my heart, to be better at love.
You might answer no and I will know it to be true even as I smile.
But nothing you say actually matters
the world will end and we will end long before that
and I will end before you-
because of you
or in spite of you.

You might turn out to be my last true love
or you might be the last nail in my heart.
But if I write a poem on eternal love
of someone whose shadows roughly look like ours,
know it is a lie we will never live up to,
but also know it is what I saw in us
even if it cannot be called truth,
even if it won’t be us.

“Tomorrow I will be complete” – Nayana Nair

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I saw my shadow
cowering in the corner of the derelict store room.
I could not bear to sit down beside it,
so I closed the door and waited outside.

Even as my eyes looked at the world,
I was aware of the one crying inside.
Even as I answered every question of the world
and laughed most appropriately at the words
that were said with with intent of making me smile,
all I could think of was “when would it be my turn?”.

I kept losing track of the doors I had closed.
I kept growing new shadows.
Against all my hopes,
all of them found their way to every grief possible
and eventually found a way to hide and cry somewhere new.

All I did meanwhile is to
wait for my turn to cry,
wait for someone to close the door and stand guard,
till I find and rearrange
the pieces of flesh remaining in my chest
to look something like a heart.

I kept repeating “Tomorrow, I will become a better person.
Tomorrow, I will be complete.
Tomorrow, I will realize I have always been complete.”
I kept repeating these words even when I knew that
anything and anyone that separates from me
is lost forever.
There doesn’t exist a way back to me in this world.

“Weight of Snow” – Nayana Nair

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The light – yellow, diffused, and scattered – falls here everyday
on the cold marble of my home.
It is winter already, which means there must be places on earth now
where turning on taps is a useless exercise,
where a whole street wakes up early
to remove the snow piling up in them, around them,
snow continues piling far away from their settlements
where there is no need to clear them,
where the weight of snow doesn’t suffocate anyone.
There must be places now where people are forgetting things one by one.
Remembering an unreal ocean of fierce light,
forgetting ever being there.
How many places have I forgotten already?
I move two chairs into the circle of warmth
and wait for the evening cold to reach my skin,
to end this dream.
I stare at the empty chair.
I draw myself sitting there, staring,
as if I cannot live without an empty space beside me.
What was that space once?
It was something warm with skin and heart and voice.
It was light in human form, it was the most beautiful life.
But that empty chair in the sun, has been empty for so long
it couldn’t possibly have been me
who existed when it was something more than that.

“Breathing Cities and Statues” – Nayana Nair

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When I try to imagine,
to recall the face of another human being.

I always see them standing opposite me
with an expressionless face, holding out their hand.

When they are ghosts of pasts,
they are breathing cities of peculiarities and possibilities.
I feel they were waiting for my hand to touch theirs.
I feel as if they have saved up their last smile for that moment.
The steps I couldn’t take, can now never take,
they look so easy, so worth it, so worth keeping as regrets.

But I never learn
because
when they are reflections of present,
they are breathing statues
and frozen hearts that couldn’t possibly beat.
I know that this hand is not for me,
that I have extinguished the smile on that face
just by being myself, just by existing.

Only the warm breath of passing time
can make me miss the world that could have been.
Only on the streets I cannot walk
grow my trees of faith.

But even then, even for the past
I barely feel any love.
What I feel is something similar to
the relief in the things that won’t change.
The pull I feel is for the trust that can never be broken,
my heart that I never had to give out,
the hand of every stranger that remained innocent thereby.

“Home of Blindness” – Nayana Nair

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I have to sing
and keep singing,
have to keep begging people to dance within my heart,
within the confines of these bricks,
with the parts of me that can’t die
and parts of me that I wish I still was.
I have to keep inventing reasons and occasions
I have to paint every meaning within me
in the boldest loudest colors.

Because the moment it all stops
I will hear the shouts again.
There is no silence in this world.
Outside, everyday
the fearful children of a fearless god
shout his name again and again.
Asking for reason, for rain,
for roses carrying their name.

I also once stood there, in the dark corridors,
on burning roads
asking god to love only me,
to hold my hand, to save me alone.
It is a very dark road,
the one we take to find
the light that will only belong to us.

And there is only this home of blindness
far away from all the crying and ceaseless hoping
where I can use these eyes of mine
for something more than holding and spilling tears,
where I get to sing for the god within the song.
I worship these walls that hold me in my place.
I worship all of your laughs, all the steps the never stop.

But I am still afraid
because tears still come easy to me,
because even this borrowed light whispers the name of one
who I still hope to reach.
The one who should exist somewhere outside these walls.
But I can only be here in this world of his
if I don’t run to him all the time.
I can be his, without falling short or falling apart,
only if I substitute what he has made for what he is.

“More Dearer” – Nayana Nair

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A face looks out of me-
that damned face of love that never gives up.
It writes down histories, and diaries,
and fears of people it wants to heal.
It never speaks aloud the hopes of gentle gaze
it secretly wants out of them.
It wants a lot many things out of them to name a few, I guess.
Just how it wants a bit too much out of me.

It wants me to learn new tricks to entertain, new specs to list out
just in case my heart isn’t enough.
It wants me to stay close, and speak sweeter
and hold people more dearer.
It wants me to walk back to offer smile
to the ones who didn’t want to be held dearer, at least not by me.

It wants them to know how they will always dazzle
even if they fall short of their own expectation,
even if they find a love whose meaning won’t have a place for me.

I hate being the one losing sleep and respect and my ability to
function like a person with one heart
or have even one complete part of me left for myself.

But I love that love hungry being in me.
I love the intense truth it knows about itself.
I love how, when I cannot fall asleep,
it crawls out of me and sits by my side
to tell me about the another stranger who once made me smile
just by existing, even if their existence was not for me,
even when I exist just fine without them.

“A New Hate” – Nayana Nair

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Surely, I love you.
Why else would I need to find a new me?
Why else, after all these years, would my jagged ends
and my fearful heart
bother me, when I have finally learned to look at them
with the kindness I was not born with?
But do you have to necessarily know of this-
these messy feelings of mine?
You are making me change.
You are making me learn
a new hate towards myself , just by existing.
Just the possibility that I might be in your heart
kills me, makes me come alive, makes me want to
undo the ties that I have held me safe,
made me safe for the world.
As long as you are here, I can never go back
to the life where I exist with ease.
It is ridiculous how I am convinced
that I will be never myself if I am apart from you,
even when I know it is a lie.
Today, I carve another need in my heart,
that I once could live without.
Today I hate you a bit more.
But you don’t have to know that.

“Running Barefoot” – Nayana Nair

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He was somewhere upstairs
running barefoot on the dusty floors
of the broken house.
I could hear him
even when I stood waiting in the backyard
staring at all the rusty memories,
feeling the stare of people who will never leave this place,
who may never leave me again
now that I fear them for never actually dying.
I tried not to love him
as I stood alone waiting for him to get bored of all this.

I was too afraid to be with him
when he was like that.
when he read aloud poems
about death out of the blue,
and read them as if they were the only true declaration
he could make to the world,
the only true word that he could say to his life.
I would only later find out
that they were written by someone else –
someone who lived in a difficult to pronounce country.
He loved things like that –
taking up the clothes of emotions of others
and wrapping himself up in them
as he walked into all the unknown lives
that oddly had a room reserved just for him.

And always, I would be outside
waiting for the sun to set, for his heart to ease,
to be there when he decides to come back to reality for good.
I didn’t realize that footsteps had ceased long ago,
and so had his breath.
So I stood there letting my heart run barefoot
on the floor of delusion, in the world where he exists.
I waited for my love to give up on him.
I was afraid of being me
when my love stop, won’t look back at me.