“I cannot tell the difference”- Nayana Nair

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“Long time ago” is a dangerous neighborhood.
All its season are holograms of perfect world,
the illusions of rain and snow and sun,
the illusion of hearts still beating under the non-existent skin.
The technician of this a weary magic
lives beside the empty park in the middle of my heart.
He knows the perfect days to make me cry, to make me see.
He invents new people, new details.
Sometime these are fake stand-ins for the what he has lost
in his war against me, all that I intend to forget.
Sometime they are what I failed to realize,
people I didn’t get to love.
Most days I can’t tell the difference
between the words I have forgotten
and the ones I will never hear
again.
This town
has post offices with stamps of words I no longer mean
stuck on its wall.
There cars and houses and roads and rivers
owned by people who will never die.
They all gather on my birthday
in the cemetery of one grave.
They sit on the endless green grass with their picnic baskets,
with the kids I will never have, with the pets I will never keep
and look into the eyes that will never look at me.
They smile knowing something I will never know.

“The door opens slowly” – Nayana Nair

I turned another corner
and walked into another house
that I knew nothing about.
The owner, the god of this land stood there
outside in the garden
telling a child how to create more beautiful loops,
how to somersault,
how to find more worms, more of everything.
An adult placed like a talisman
that couldn’t keep me
or what I bring with me away.
He didn’t even notice the grave that I carried in me,
the open pits in ground awaiting more bodies.

I walked to the front door and rang the bell
thinking, wondering what must I not be seeing
in the person I see as a fool.
I wonder if the graves in him didn’t love him back as well.
The door opens slowly and I wait.
I let my willingness to wait announce to her that it is me.
She makes me a wait a bit more-
that is the nature of game we are caught in.

Seconds and hours I spend on her couch,
waiting for the commotion outside to end,
for “the happy family on a sunday morning” to end.
She has four brother
and an almost sister that they never talk about.
She reminds me this a few more times
so that on the mental map of belonging and similarities
I find this unnamed sister closer to my role.

They rush in like a flood, like a rain gone wrong-
all these bodies that I am not supposed to see.
“They are perfect”, I thought to myself.
I thought of my mother, the anger in my home,
the counting of countless miseries,
the coarse harsh words that filled my eyes, then filled my mouth,
the gentle sunsets that drown only dreams.
“They are perfect”, I think, “for someone living in the same world as me”.

She tells them about my scholarships, about my fragile upbringing,
about the art that runs in me.
She tells them all about the things that they like.
For today she has made them into me.
I smile and say a little too less.
I smile as if I mean no harm.

But I know
I am here.
I am here and there is no escape
from the fact that eventually
I will sit in this room with my love
and with a glitter pen running out of ink.
I will draw, deepen the cracks that I already see.

Such is my nature.
Such are the songs that I live on repeat.

“The last brick is in my heart” – Nayana Nair

In every country, in every city,
on every street
stands a home that could have been ours.
I am a daydreamer like that
As I passed the house with an always crying child,
as I passed the house with the overwhelming smell of incense,
as I passed the house with singing reality shows played on repeat
I only thought of the life we could have there.
In my mind, we fit every house, we fit every role.
Even if our body was stripped of every muscles and every bone
even if we put back together the wrong way,
even if we our heart were to be rearranged,
in my mind we would still fall in love.
That is how we had molded the spirit of our love-
to be stubborn (if not right or just).
But now there are years when I don’t remember you,
and yet there is no sadness in me that is capable of ruining me.
You are gone
and I am trying to grieve for something I don’t particularly miss.
As I pass the houses where our stories used to be staged
I realize they are again the buildings of strangers
that I am supposed to keep my mind away from.
My sadness selfishly keeps uttering,
“I need to love someone, someone who won’t do this to me.
I need to love someone, to believe in love again.”
I reach home with bloody nails and bruised fingers
leaving behind bricks with our names scratched out.

“A lie for every fear” – Nayana Nair

I walk past houses
that are too silent to be there.
Another drop of tear
lands on my hand.

I dare not stop and look.

I fear I might end up finding
my own home that I had left.

In my eyes I might end up holding
the face of the one
whose sorrow I can’t still bear.

I once lied,
“I will love you forever”.
I fear I might now find the love
that I didn’t have then.

I fear I will ask you
for everything that I do not deserve.

So I lie once again,
this time for your sake-
“though my heart is cold,
love is not the fire I need”.

“Aunt” – Nayana Nair

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“Yes, I do have plans for my future my dear aunt.”
I say, after I see her put her cup down and look at me
with sympathy and resentment.
“How can we not worry.
It is your future we are talking about.”

Actually, I never had these conversation,
at least not with my aunt.
I never had such an aunt to bother me.
But there are relatives and other faces
that I am hiding under the name of a non-existent aunt.
Sometimes it is me who is hiding under that name instead.

I am handed down spare maps
that I am supposed to study and follow.
Mark my route and choose someone
who could help me get up in the morning
even if it out of hatred.
I am sure it will be hatred
because I have seen no one one who has sorted their life
to wake up feeling that they have done it right.

My bitterness might make me seem like
a remainder of uneasy and uncomfortable families,
but it is not so.
There are just too many non-existent aunts in our house
who thinks we could have done better, chosen better,
lived better-
if only we could get our act together
and stopped acting like the world owes us some kind of happiness.

This constant re-evaluation of life
and its result coming out as failure every time
makes everything we live with
and everyone we choose as a mistake.
What is this “better” that doesn’t let us live?

“Where I Stop” – Nayana Nair

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Every few days
I feel the urge to get out
of this house that feels so full of myself.
Guilt of a comfortable life
forces me out,
so I take a stroll
through supermarket.
I wish I said that I went to a park
but I didn’t.
But I do remember going there once or twice.
Or was it a whole month of healthy choices
and healthy promises
that I knew I would never follow through.
The morning was sweet, and air was nice
and I felt a happiness I had never known.
They were probably the lightest hours
that I ever lived.
In short,
it was too much for me to take.
In short
it lured me to a different life
and asked me to change.
And that is where I stop
in front of racks of cookies
and chips,
in front of billing counter,
if front of calories I have no hunger for.
Knowing that I won’t change,
but hoping that I do.

“Whale Songs” – Nayana Nair

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My house on hills and its silence
are always occupied in a duel
with the wartime echoes from far away lands,
with the agonizing voices of reality.
Even if I surround my house
with the greenest trees,
place cool streams around.
Even if I cloud my windows
with curtains of smoke.
Even if I barter with life,
even if I am ready to embrace
loneliness for the sake of peace.
In my dreams, filled with whale songs,
there are sorrows
of lives I have cut off myself from.
But I am not someone
who can save people from themselves.
I have no choice but to burn
the letters,
the newspapers,
to keep myself warm and alive.

“Endless Screech” – Nayana Nair

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It has been long since
I saw your face for what it was.
Now the ends of your lips droops
and your words stings and
your action have become
the endless screech of a madman.
I didn’t want to spare my words
to remind you of your change.
I didn’t want to forgive you for the nights
there was nothing but your shout and your anger
bouncing around in my head
and in this house.
I want you to know how badly
you have ruined yourself.
But you are not there in that body
and I am playing pretend of a family
with the whatever has been left behind.

“Walking Home” – Nayana Nair

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The street is lined with houses
that have forgotten how to breathe anything
but neglect.
There are broken windows
through which I see hopeful eyes staring and crying
trapped in homes that
reek of wait that yields more wait.
The street is lined with trees that never grew.
The roads cling to the snow that never melts.
We all have learned how to go deaf to cries of help
(that’s what growing up means?)
and walk home to our own tragedies-
some we suffer, some we create
and some we never stop.

“Mistaken” – Nayana Nair

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Surely
there were others as well
who were standing beside me till now,
who loved me, at least liked me.
Surely I am mistaken
that I am abandoned.
There were several houses that fell silent
as my legs lingered on their doorsteps.
There was a sigh of relief as I left.
A sigh
muffled by my own will to ‘not hear’.
As I went far from them,
their memories and promises
became louder in my head.

Surely I was mistaken.