“the door opens, and i let in whatever comes in, whatever comes back” – Nayana Nair

.

a rose sits at the center of the table.

the surface of wood is sinking,
going under, losing the feeling of its own legs.

everything that i pick up from the world
(the alien objects with the scent of decaying lemon)

their destination is this – this piece of furniture.
everything in this one room life can trace its origin back,

back to a person who is not me. i have been gifted life
and the tools to live. i have been gifted the recipes-

the best way to mix, bake, boil, and burn. every surface of rest
speaks and has a face, their face. their face frowns

at the taste of food i make and my inability to eat. the three meals i cook
never reach my stomach. i can only hope for sleep after these

pointless rituals of remembrance. hunger
is the last thing on my mind. on the mornings when i wake up

with eyes open for a change, i see the clutter for what it is. i see
the shrine and offerings and gods of past. i feel i am not really praying

but begging them to come back. “how to revive a god, how to be looked at again”
these are the thoughts that flood in me

every time an offering is rejected, every time the room remains dead.
the door opens only for me, only by me. a rose again breathes its last

in my hand. there is life i realize. there is life everywhere. but also
there is the end to it. both cannot be had at will.

the wait for both is never without pain.

“blessed by the hands of time” – Nayana Nair

.

there.
see there.
that is the soft tree
made of sheep
from my dreams
that i told you about.
the one from which blood drips
the moment i find
the warm back of sleep.

there beside it
is the ink i never used.
the words
i couldn’t bring myself to say.
it is a cloud now.
it is now rain
or rather a promise of rain.
so it is safe.
and beautiful.
it is a reliable source for thirst.
it will stay there for an eternity.
it will only grow more.
it will probably
be the measure of my life.

it will be there
always overlooking
this faithless temple,
these buildings
filled with hollow books,
this smoke that leaves my body
as i burn again.
overlooking this farm
blessed by the hands of time,
where all the food i couldn’t stomach,
everything of this world
that i couldn’t accept
grows back again from the soil
for me to see.

sit here beside me
i will show you the world
that i am doomed to see,
since you want to know me.
see there, all that
was there in me
before i created new doors
in this world for you.
all this will remain with me
when you are gone.
and you will be gone
you just don’t know it yet.

“What I Remember (30)” – Nayana Nair

.

The “sweet escape” is now more expensive
and better hidden in a packaging devoid of bubble wrap
and crumpled newspaper (how does that even work?)
I can no longer remember why it caught my eyes.
But such things normally do, so I don’t question it much.
“Such things” almost always refers
to things that I will always see and be drawn to, but never get near.
And I am not talking about the bare minimum semblance of love,
or the friend who must eat food without me to feel accepted in this world.
Now that is out of the way,
we can all imagine with utmost accuracy and pity
everything that is definitely on this list of mine.
Things I know the price of
because my pockets are empty.
The kind of empty a drop of dew feels
in front of a desert(even the smallest one).
This is not even a smallness fueled by insecurity or class consciousness.
This is the lens of pure objectivity at work,
which I sort of stupidly relied on to cure me, stop me
from showering my attention
to something that challenges my place in world
in the wake of release of a random new replaceable product in market.
which is sort of weird because
I do not know the price of the meal I eat
or the clothes I wear –
I feel them.
So I know better. I really do.
But the billboards that fly over the cities
-abducting cows, and UFOs, and fixed deposits, and basic sanity-
make me want to dial the number to someone, anyone
who can get me a card
that, I am told, can get me every luxury I do not yet deserve.
To my credit, I never dialed that number
simply because wanting something that was designed to be wanted
seemed stupid,
poking a hole into the balloon of my existence for it
seemed stupid.
In the list of more stupid things I can now “not want”
are grand expectations of a basic acceptable life, minimum respect,
of love, of family, of wanting a fair chance at a dream,
of food that tastes like food,
and air that doesn’t clog my lungs.
I am told that at a price one can have them all
but to the one who is barely afloat it sure is a stupid thing to want.

“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.

“with the right words, i can hide my unreasonable yearning for you” – Nayana Nair

.

frozen time, open window

a cry of deer stuck in my throat
along with your name

the white spotless landscape of my heart
breaks again,

the summer keeps evaporating

my real smile surfaces and floats
like a dying fish, waiting for

needy hands, hungry lips,
hot oil, cold plate, and a decent death

the radio that plays on repeat
every song i hate,

the fork that traces the outline of my eyes

this empty life, my clean small bones
lying in the sunlit backyard of your world.

“Like no other” – Nayana Nair

.

The food tastes better today.
The light today falls just right into me.
“This would be a day like no other”, I thought
as someone wished me a happy day on radio
before playing a song that shredded my remaining patience
into bright bitter words that fit me better.
And now armed with an unreasonable and off-putting frown
I walk towards the house where my love lived.
I knew on a day like this
she would still be somewhere far away from every world of mine
and my knocks would bounce back
from everything of hers she didn’t want.
I stood there talking to my friends
who differ from me only in the fact
that they don’t have to walk this world in hope and fear of change.
I pick another flower which will definitely end with
she remembers me, not
she will return, not
she is here, not
As my shoulders melts to fit
the memory of her outline,
the song changes to something that refuses to end with
i will forget her eventually
i will be fine like everybody else
i will find what it means to be me, by myself
and something about that was relieving.
The false belief that I will be stuck in time
even if it was with a memory of her, with false hopes
sounded better than hearing the approaching steps
of the day that will cure me of her.

“The Light of White Tulips” – Nayana Nair

.

From the lowest branch
of the falling tree
I looked up
and heard someone laugh.

I have been reborn thousand times after that
but still
as I walk on the charcoal roads
lined with white tulips
that never light up,
as my foot slips
I hear that laugh again.

I hear it
when I cook food
and end up staring a bit too long at the flame,
when the smoke that kills, coats everything
that fills my stomach.

It is stuck in my heart, the violence of the end.
The bluest sky, the sweetest wind,
the flying songs, and my muffled cries-
crystallized as one.
One tiny map, that tells no directions,
forever stuck in the corner of my eye.

It plays like a record, plays hide and seek.
It is a play that ends
with the stories breaking into me.

“They go through my closet trying to find me and maybe themselves” – Nayana Nair

.

He stepped down from his ‘cloud nine of the day’
as I stepped out from my house made of last drops of rain
and at the intersection of fleeting memories
we fell in love.
That is what I tell my friends
when they ask me about the moment
I was tempted to end the sadness of my life.

I tell them about the words I borrowed from his lips,
his borrowed tongue that helped me eat a bit more.
How I taped his adjectives on my mirror
so that I wouldn’t have to look at myself.

They sit with me on the table
I can’t bear to share with my love.
They stare at me, as I ask them what to wear,
how to hide my poison, how to hide the crack at the elbow,
the bruised collarbone, the split lip,
the ache in my heels, my frayed wings,
my broken voice
and all other reminders of what love has done to me,
and what more love can do, if i just let it in again.

They tell me it is all healed.
They tell me it is all past.
They hold their skin against mine to make me see
that the cracks are all in my mind,
how everyone looks just like me,
how everything wrong with me is now the norm.
And they laughed
when I looked at them with concern.

They dropped me at the restaurant
and vanished at the farthest bend of the road.
As I dragged my feet towards another story
that I will never get to complete,
another tragedy that suited only me,
I looked back and tried to think of all the things
that these kind friends of mine suffered
as they hoped and wished and lied to themselves.
The exceptions they now considered normal,
the wounds they cannot even see,
the pain they cannot call pain,
the love they cannot bear to leave-
I tasted these facts
in every spoon of artificial sweetness
I fed to my mouth that evening.

I chewed, swallowed, and slurped

.

My mother used the same knife for over twenty-five years. That’s roughly as old as I am. Through the slicing, chopping, and mincing, the knife grew paper-thin. As I chewed, swallowed, and slurped, my intestines and my liver, heart, and kidneys grew. Along with the food my mother made for me, I swallowed the knife marks that were left on the ingredients. Countless knife marks are engraved in the dark insides of my body. They travel along my veins and play on my nerves. That’s why a mother is a painful thing to me. It’s something the organs all know. I understand the word heartache physically.

– an excerpt from “Knife Marks“, Kim Ae-ran

“Earphones” – Nayana Nair

.

I cannot paint

your silhouette moving through the rain toward me-
all the blue that lingered in the light rain, on my skin, in the wait for you.

The color that fills my mind when I recall
how your cold hands met mine, my frozen shivering love hungry hands,
and nothing was cold anymore,
nothing was insufferable,
as long as you and me stayed like this,
accepting the ache that comes with staying.

The song, the familiar and strange tune, that became beautiful
by the time it played for 35th time, by the time our cola lost its fizz,
by the time the untouched food looked comforting,
by the time I found that knowing you and your everything
was as painful and liberating as putting myself into words.

The tension
of the stretched earphones between our head and our aching necks,
a moment of sadness, of a great love, of a great end
played itself before us again and we promised ourselves- we won’t ever be there.
And yet as you mocked the world for its weakness
I cried for the same weakness you and me hid in ourselves.

The cold wind that went through me, as you walked past me,
my pride- ground and powdered, spilling out of me,
blinding and confusing people around me,
making me look desperate, pitiful, and empty
as I chased you through streets where we were never supposed to be.

I cannot draw them, so I write.
I write
how we stood together
in every room,
on every patch of earth
for the longest time
and saw within our reach
something that was beautiful and fragile
and no one’s to keep
as long as we saw each other only,
as long as we could smile at what we saw.

I remember you as you stayed still,
breathing carefully
as we let fate make something out of us.
I remember your eyes
asking me with a smile to confirm the reality of what we had,
of what we are.

I wonder how you remember me now.
Now that we are living our lives trying only to prove
that we have lost nothing of ourselves in losing each other.