“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.

“Towards that lesser life” – Nayana Nair

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Once I was told
by my own shattering image
that I would learn to laugh at this moment.

It was not a pleasant sentence to hear.

It reminded me of all the sentences
that are manufactured in the factories of peace.
you will forget this bruise.
you will forget those words.
you will forget this love.
you will forget this face.
forgetting is what you really want.
far away from every “here” is the place you want to be.

It reminded me of all the meaningless words that were born
everyday in the mouths of strangers –
words that awkwardly held me not knowing who I am
or why I must be consoled
but convinced something in me should be put to sleep
before it learnt to cry in the audible ranges of pain.

There are too many words in this place.
Too little heart.
There are too many people who look like they have known pains
that I might never have.
But they are the same ones who want to bury things
that are only broken.
So I am going to run
towards every “here” out there,
towards that lesser life filled with loss.
A life where things that are lost are allowed to matter.

“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.

“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.

“The hatred that I counted upon” – Nayana Nair

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When I have gathered enough courage
the only piece of metal in me
that can still cause harm
are only the frustrations I have at my own cowardice.
What do I have to lose today,
that I couldn’t lose yesterday
when I was busy resenting you.
After seeing and accepting the wrong that you are,
after uncovering every wound, every decaying part of me
that I didn’t want to face,
after deciding on an end
that would still be fair and gentle to your heart,
why do I only hold you tighter?
Why do I make up lies that only make it easier
to make up more lies, make up a world
where my hate is just a delusion,
where you are the only one worth saving,
worth love, worth my misery.
And even in that world, why does our love
won’t feel like love?
Why don’t you feel like mine?
Why does my heart feel abandoned
when I have chosen to walk into your hands
even after knowing my fate.

“Last Drink in the Refrigerator” – Nayana Nair

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Amidst the clutter of her living room, I sat down with the last drink in her refrigerator- an extremely sour and almost suspicious orange juice.

I could look up the expiry date but it was already too late. I was almost down to my third sip. A thought that arrives a bit too late is probably a thought best forgotten. If I end up in ER for this, this might be my last orange drink. Sort of sad that the last orange drink in my life tasted like calculated foolishness rather than a bright sun and its shameless almost applaudable want of attention.

I walk around her apartment, looking at all the stuff she has accumulated over the years, things that I am rather too conscious to look at when she is awake. I do not know the face that I should make at the face of all that she can’t get rid of – the things she wants to throw away, the things that make her believe that she is an actual person with a life that was actually lived.

When I see her bleeding fingers, her grip, her intent to never fall from this precipice, her intent not to ever pull her self out of it; I end up finding all thing that I could have done, all that I could have been. I end up finding ways to have broken beautifully, to break in a way that wouldn’t endanger my will to live so much.

Which is weird because she is sadder than me. Which is weird cause I do not think the type of breaking matters that much.

They are just thoughts that have arrived a bit too late because now I have time to think, because now I have the heart to forgive, because I am that ideal age where I might opt to forget for the sake of my own heart.

If I end up in another heartache because of the things we can’t change anyway, if this turns out to by last love, then it is sort of sad that I can do only so little, that I can love this much.

“Tell me it is not true” – Nayana Nair

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At the right turn
I faced another street
where someone I know once lived.
For all I know, their present
might still look like my ‘once ago’.
From where I stand and where I see
my present
is their “what a nightmare,
thank god it is not true/thank god it is not me.

Maybe with their shocked and sorrowful faces
they will ask me this
Tell me it is not true.
and I will probably tell them exactly that
because I do not want them to think
thank god is it not me
or “god has been kind to me. god loves me more.
Because maybe then, in that moment,
I may hate my lovely friend and my lovely god,
and the lovely lives that I am not part of.

So I take another turn,
seeking other roads-
roads where the ones I knows,
the ones with question
do not have to look at me.
And I do not have to see my tragedy, my loneliness
paint them as villain
when they are not,
when maybe they are the only ones that care.

“Staying awake, staying alert” – Nayana Nair

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The glass window creaks
under the weight of my head.
I wonder if I should sleep.
Not that it is in my hands. I wish it was .
But then I am afraid
of wishing for anything
that I might not be able to bear-

like her face alive in my dreams,

like seeing myself with a smile
that I can never wear again,

like wanting to smile again
even when I do not want to want such things.

Even when I stay awake, stay alert
to the turning and tossing of my heart
even when I stay glued to the place I had in her heart,
I feel that time is dragging me away
from everything that is painfully comfortable and familiar and lost.

I feel the world trying to rush back into me.
I feel I might lose her too soon, too easily.
I fear there is only so much that my heart can take.
I fear that I will find the peace that I do not want to feel
at the other end of this suffering.

“this peace, this staying, this wanting” – Nayana Nair

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I have spent 10 years
of my life decorating my wooden coffin,
giving food, giving faces, and adding height
to my imaginary friends
and painting forgiving smiles on my imaginary gods.

I won’t mind if someone out there decides to call me
“coward” or “delusional” or “hopeless” or “sorta weird”
I won’t mind if this qualifies
to be called “running away from reality and life”.

Even if I ignore the words like these,
even when I have found a way to survive alone
I am still left with these corrosive, acidic feelings.
Feelings don’t help – when all they do is
speak, wail louder each day.

They remind me again and again
that even a beautiful death is a death,
that loneliness is still loneliness,
that in spite of the ribbons and flowers and posters
the smile on my face is still not as bright
as the one love used to give me,
even if I have now less reasons to cry.

It is not easy – this peace,
this staying away from the want to be seen, to be loved,
this wanting to cry over something again.
It is not easy – to keep myself awake and alive
when feeding myself, seeing the light
only makes my fears stronger.