“Painting Summer” – Nayana Nair

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As my teacher with broken voice
dictated another question on radius and heights
and the mountains where no snow, no season, no name sticks;
I turned another page and wrote the name of an emperor
who died even though he believed he won’t.
I smiled and tried to correct the very very wrong spelling
of a national political party that my friend wrote. It doesn’t matter she said,
when I couldn’t figure out what was exactly wrong with it.
At lunch, she leaned against the wrong window,
the one with fresh coat of blue paint,
and told me a joke which she memorized
only to remember it wrong.
I again gave her the laugh that meant nothing in particular.
But I knew she loved it when I reacted like this-
as if she is forcing a laughter out of my silent sombre heart,
as if she is wining over me all my resistance.
But I was nothing like that.
I was nothing like she thought me to be.
My heart was already open. She was already inside me-
writing melodies with her soft steps beside me,
painting summer sun over every window I looked out of.
But these are things that need no telling,
there are my treasures I won’t allow her to take back,
these are the answer she will never realize.
I hand in another assignment, another answer sheet
that looks too little like me, that raises the eyebrows of people
who realize they couldn’t teach me a thing right.
I walk back to my seat wondering
if my shirt is tainted red with my love
like her back is filled with butterflies of blue.

“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.

“Tell me it is not true” – Nayana Nair

.

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

.

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.

“After looking at each other for so long” – Nayana Nair

.

After all this,
all this that I am supposed to lose again,
again with a smile I don’t mean.
I am confused
what it means
to let go.
I am confused
why only I am not able to do it?
Why letting go comes so easy to everyone I love?
Why do only I look selfish if i don’t?

“Is it now?” – Nayana Nair

.

I have seen snails and snakes
from a distance of two feet.
They were scary and I was scared.
Even when they vanished, I remained scared.
I remained scared
of everything that stood two feet away from me,
asking me, “Now what?”,
“Is it now, that you run and not look back?”

I have seen friendship
from the distance of words
I could never type.
I sent them new year,
friendship day, diwali,
doomsday celebration greetings
but I never sent them my heart.
They too figured with time
that they could live without me,
without this heart of mine
they have only heard about.

When I see them smile for me
across the street
that we both won’t cross
I wonder if I should smile back
and extend this period of pain, this pretense

or should I see through them,
to set them free

or should I walk closer, to fill their heart
with the horrid images of the real me,
to let them see the dying me,
to let them see the things they can’t do anything about.
Would they love me for real if I did that
or would they look me from the distance of two feet
as I ask “Now what?”
“Is it now, that you run and not look back?”

“What I Remember (29)” – Nayana Nair

At a bus stand in front of mall (that I have never been to)
I learnt how to wait and how to live with disappointments
without making a big deal of it.

In the bracket of an hour, I grew smaller than I ever thought I could be.
“this is what love does to you, this is what love does to all of us”, all the voices in me lied.
I was again weary of the love that I had chosen and the person I had trusted
(“again” – the word that showed me the real reason why it would never work out).

I stood beside strangers on the crowded bus stand, awkwardly crying.
I counted these not-so-scary strangers who were trying to become one skin.
I pretended that I hated to be rained on as much as they did.
I pretended that I didn’t mind their warmth, that my suspicious mind was not at work again.

Hours went by, empty roads faithfully stayed empty.
I became more aware of the boundaries of my body
I became aware of the person who would never come looking for me,
who would look at the three hour long rain and still won’t wonder what happened to me.

We all stood there,
pretending to be the only human
in the group of zombies who had taken over a bus stand out of boredom,
who stared at the wide road, the darkness beyond, and the emptiness behind
as if their eyes were made to witness only this moment.
I closed my eyes and hummed something, anything
that could drown the presence of everyone
who knew the sound of my breaking heart now.

At a bus stand, that could protect no one,
we all dreamt of the worst- of the submerged road,
a rain that will never stop, the cold that would take us down for days,
children forever waiting, of the lightning we could hear but not see

of a love painlessly ending and a heart that shamelessly survived.

“Variant of Love” – Nayana Nair

You held me as I broke again and again.
Your warm chest tried to hold me, to keep me alive.
I couldn’t cry anymore
I felt indebted to you I loved you.

You left me again
in the crowd that you promised to protect me from.
I called you, your number and you name-
becoming useless to me with each passing day.
I cried because
I felt cheated I loved you.

As my heart filled again, as it emptied itself out
you stayed in front of my eyes
in flesh or in glowing illusions,
telling me, nothing is wrong with me.
So I slept peacefully
because you made me forget my incompleteness I loved you.

You told me love is supposed to be a pain anyway.
That this smile of mine that shined in spite of your mistakes,
in spite of your cruelty on my weary hopeful heart
was the only thing that made you believe in my love.
And again I smiled back
so that you continue to believe me
because I loved you.

There were moments, glorious ones,
when you were the most the beautiful human,
when you cried for me,
when you cried for the world,
when you tried to do something right.
I wanted to stand beside you
so that I could protect you somehow
because I loved you more for it.

But now
I must face the world and myself alone,
without having to become something right in your eyes.
Now I don’t have to round up my every feeling
to a variant of love.
Now I can care for you, hate you
and see it as care and hate and a frustration without an end.
Now I can see you as the miracle and as the failure that you are.
Now I can be a failure myself.

I am not good at loving in the past.
I can only be honest.
Now I cannot look back at you
and call you my heart.
You were so much to me
that I badly wanted to be something that you want.
I kept on sleeping to keep your dream intact
and calling this love, when it clearly was not.
Even though it was probably something better than that.

“the knot in my heart is one year old now” – Nayana Nair

a library of all my roles
stands in the middle of my heart.
i have placed your face as the title of
this poem that i am going to drown.
i lie on the beautiful lake of love
and press my ears, waiting
to hear your last breath in my world.

“Waiting for the fireworks to end” – Nayana Nair

In her loudest, happiest voice
she told me about
one of her near-death loves,
how she wished her skin
would stop keeping her alive.
She laughed at how we both
always find something awfully painful or ugly in common,
how we should probably never call each other
just to remind each other of the spite
that lives in our blood.

I moved her lackluster glass of
fake green mojito by an inch towards her
and looked past her
at the couple who sat closest to the sky.
The wind that touched them called out to me again,
reminded me about my trembling legs
and my heart that didn’t want to give up yesterday.

I told her about the fall – my bad decision,
my backing out again at the last minute-
another really bad decision.
I told her someone needs to lock me up
before I take any more decision
as I showed her my new skinned knee
and told her in detail about
all parts of me that were filled with pain even now
only because of that one moment
in which I wanted to live more than anything.

She walked towards the the railing
decorated with hearts that won’t light
and found herself a seat, placing her elbow
carefully away from the mess that
the ones in love left behind.
She waited for me to follow her as I always do.

I stood behind her and felt a fear
very similar to mine swimming in her mind.
I wanted to tell her, it will get better.
but I couldn’t. I wanted to believe in this,
in this hope for better;
if not for me, at least for her.
And I knew she had nothing to say now
because her throat was also crowded by the words
she doesn’t believe. We are painfully alike
even in our search for hope, even when we are searching it
for each other.