“Another Round of Wrong Guesses” – Nayana Nair

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In that room
seated along with my anxious heart,
my crumbling forevers, and my noisy pen,
was you.
You are now more colorful than ever-
more real, more present.
You are more you that before,
more of a person that I ever could be.
I envied you and loved you for that- that I remember.

I realize there other things that I don’t remember well,
as you put on the record
of “50 greatest pointless questions of all time”,
as you sharpen the edges of your weak hollow anger,
as you ask me to play a harmless game,
another try at the precious once-in-a-lifetime love,
another guess, another stab, another cut,
another laughter echoing and tearing
everything that almost made me human,
another try, another guess, another endearing laugh
at the sight of my tears.

I had decided that won’t flinch, that I won’t cry.
I looked at the paper again
that said that I am not actually hurt,
that everything I suffer from is a making of my mind,
that I am just too scared,
too lonely to think straight ever again.
I looked at it wanting to believe it
but also knowing I won’t allow this paper to fix this for me.

For even to this image- this violent beautiful ghost of you,
even to this- I felt I owed something.
I still waited for you to give up.
It still mattered to me – this confirmation-
that what I loved
also loved me back in some twisted way.
So I nodded yes to another rounds of wrong guess,
to this game I won’t ever win.

“The poem on tides and moons and you” – Nayana Nair

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On a staircase of stars
I sit with a cold drink clenched within my shivering hand
and nod back to the goodbye of another stranger.

I don’t remember him
but I know the lies I might have told him about me,
and the truth that he might have got to know eventually.

“What do you think? What would he remember me for?”, I say,
“But anyway someone knows me,
is this enough to prove that I am present in my life”.

“Is it lonely there?”, someone asks from within me.
I think it is probably you.
And because it is you, I need not answer.

I don’t want to seek you in the skies.
So I sit staring at the world that starts across the street,
where I pretend you are. Where I pretend you will always be now.

I sit outside a palace of brokenness that is not mine.
My sorrows are not so glorious.
It all belongs to a guy who will soon be my friend of some sort.

Unlike me he is happy now,
but he cannot bring to dismatle this grandest part of his life.
He wants a sad lover in front of the corpse of his love. Even if it can’t be him.

In the silence of his beautiful grave,
everyone gathered again and listened to the poem that no longer moves his heart
and we cried in his place.

It was a poem on tides and moons,
on something no one wanted to call love
but something they still couldn’t stop talking about.

It was something like thinking about you.
It was something like being asked “is it lonely there?” by your ghost.
It was like wanting to answer “does it even matter to you?”

It was like wanting to answer “It is a pain you won’t have to ever know.”

You stand beside the fire” – Nayana Nair

In the rubble with nerves hiding sparks,
in the nest of sleeping explosives,
again it is you.
Again you are here to prove something
by doing something unasked for.

You build a place for warm tea,
for all our shivering ghosts to haunt.
You place the chairs that are not chairs
but buckets that cannot hold anything now.
There are chairs that are lying around just fine
but you want don’t them.
You don’t want the old purposes eating away
the beauty of all that is left behind.

You console the ones holding onto what is no longer there
but you don’t want the ones who want way back to what it was.
You ask us questions with your bleeding lips
you want us to answer with something real,
not just words.
“You are cruel”,
you laugh when we say that.
You make us leave everything we are
just so that we can finally sit on empty buckets
thinking about the hands we cannot hold,
thinking about hands that are no longer hands.

“The city is no longer burning”, you tell us
as you place our empty glasses in front of our empty eyes
and tell us it is fine if we don’t believe it now.
“Sleep. Dream and stay for a while with the molten and bombed,
the lost and the dead that still have your heart.
Take your time.”

As we lay awake in our heart-wrenching grief,
as we lose ourselves to your favorite world of sleep,
you stand beside the fire
that keeps us alive.
You stand beside the fire
that is not actually fire
but your heart
that burns like sun.

We wanted to tell you, “You are kind.
You are too beautiful for this world.
Have our heart and burn it instead.”
But we couldn’t .
We knew these things were easy only in words,
that these were things we couldn’t do, yet.
That we have not smiled and laughed with bleeding lips,
helping while being hated.
That we were too selfish to be you.

“where our days end” – Nayana Nair

She makes circles on the back of my hand.
She writes “love” again and again on my skin
so that I don’t forget her.
She writes “love” again and again with her fingers
so that she may not forget I am still not lost to her.
That I can be different as long as she sees me for me
and she lets me see an unaltered part of her once in a while.
Few more alphabets follow
of my name and hers
and all the names we wish we could forget
just the way we are forgetting to love
even when that is the only thing we want to remember.
I tap my fingers on the steering wheel
to a song that plays only in the past,
wondering why I learned these words that only give me pain,
give her pain, give us only half of each other
while we are missing more pieces than we were made of,
why my losses are more than my being,
why we have to stop here, by this cliff, every evening
waiting for our ghosts to take a step back,
to look back at us
and see the happy ending waiting for them,
why we are invisible to our ghosts
who only speak of names and futures that we have grown to hate?

“Folds” – Nayana Nair

You are gone
and I try to hold the spoon like you used to.
I chew my food with my left molars as you did.
The ghosts that I have wronged, that I have forgotten
now include half of my teeth, teeth you would have never used.

You are gone
and you are happy (probably).
So I memorize name and phone number
of your every friend,
I recall the fondness you had for them.
I wear your feelings when I meet them,
I wear your feelings even when they won’t fit me.
I wonder if they noticed how I was spilling at some places,
how I was non existent in other folds-
folds that used to hold you so well.

You are gone
and I am gone (or that’s what I think).
I am my work, I am my songs,
I am the adjectives you made for me,
I am the report cards, I am the dust that settles on it,
I am the afternoon TV shows, I am the language I don’t understand.
I am what I am fond of.
I am mostly just you.

You are gone
and I fear
there is no one that can
stop me from growing
into you.

“Till I become half of what I was” – Nayana Nair

The soap slips through my fingers
and falls onto the floor
(a floor that in my mind is never clean enough).
I wash the soap vigorously,
till it becomes half of what it was.
My teachers would be proud
to know that I take germs somewhat seriously even now.
Even now, when I am sure of only of my loneliness*,
such ghosts of primary school science don’t leave me alone.

*My hands are too small, I have been told many a times. Maybe that’s why this happens so often. But still I guess it happens to all. I can never know for sure though. No one I have ever met talks of the soaps that slip. Maybe that shows the state of my friendships, how I end up feeling weird, feeling alone about the things, in experiences that are supposed to be normal and common.

“how storms fade” – Nayana Nair

twenty-six steps away from the cold end,
we stand together as if we are both looking
at a foe we must defeat together.
a child passes us by with a yellow balloon.
how misplaced it seems, this child
in this place made of storms.

this is something i don’t want to do.
our steps will fade into the deep end of this lake
while the mother in me would summon the face of this child
as a hope of what i could have had
if I could endure a little bit more.

an invisible small hand curls around my fingers
as your voice falters and you mess up our last song.
the ghost of your future, whatever face they may have, have also arrived.
so i put back the sweater on
and you check the calls you must return
as the ones who intend to live on only do.

“Crystal” – Nayana Nair

the crystals
where our future
was supposed to be hidden in,
turned out to be just stones.

we didn’t have enough magic
to make a stone speak.
we turned out be just as human
as we always suspected we were.

and now we have no one to ask
no one to give us false hope
no fiction, no roles,
no ghosts to fear.

we are back to fearing ourselves.

“Just Poems” – Nayana Nair

My mind that understands
is chained and crippled by its understanding.
It only tries to understand new words
by comparing it to
what has already written or read.
It only understands feelings in terms of
the pain it has given
or all it has suffered.

-o-

So when I stand in front of the doors of a poem
feeling the sting of December winds on my back.
When I ring the doorbell
and hear from other side “May I come inside?”
I immediately know that this not something
that I understand,
that there is a difference
in reading as if
sitting on the couch in a stranger’s house
waiting to be entertained
and reading as if
I have let the stranger in my own mind
and allowed him to change
the view I have of this world.

-o-

Some poems are not just poems.
They are voices that never die
because they have never been born.
They are ghosts that we have always wanted to haunt.
They are names we give to our own suffering,
a closure that only we can give to ourselves.

“For you to disappear”- Nayana Nair

When the wind blows
there are no branches to shake,
no windows to rattle,
no forgotten clothes to be abducted from my backyard,
no ghost songs to invite me to new nightmares.
Only your imagined face,
that looks nothing like you these days,
in these lifeless eyes
keeps flickering.
Making you almost real,
making me wonder
what is the distance in time
that I must travel,
how much should I age,
how much should my mind wither,
for you to disappear?
How many sins I should commit
so that my hands are not stained
only by your tears.