“What I Remember (22)” – Nayana Nair

Was it 5 years ago, or 6
that we all sat together
looking at the bright beginning
of another series of setbacks
that we were becoming.
The coldness of the wood,
the ruffle of papers, the moment before
we learned to truly hate ourselves.

I miss that.

As we stood waiting in line
for something to take away
everything we were just beginning to see,
I remember thinking,
“I wish I could spend my youth here.
In this moment, with these people.
I am nothing to them, they are nothing to me.
But we are good for each other.
This can never be made again.”
At that moment I knew
they will make my heart ache
for a long time.

In the years that followed
I saw them,
the people who carried the faces
of the ones
I liked enough not to love.
“What’s wrong?” I wanted to ask them
but all I could do was smile
and let my smile tell them
“I will see you for what you were.
At least that I can do for you.
The beauty of your innocence and hope
I will remember it forever.”

“the shadow at the foot of my bed” – Nayana Nair

today is the birthday of one another oddity of mine.
on a day like this,
few calendars ago
i learnt how to turn my helplessness into my charm.
i learnt to fill the glasses, the throats of everyone i know
with something sweet, with a taste they can’t name.
i learnt to become something that can’t be known or hurt.
in my bedroom i sit at the foot of my bed
trying to block out the presence, the weight
of the other half of my body
clinging, clawing, crying, dissociating.
i again forget where i am.
i again forget how to stop shaking.
if i walk a bit more into the darkness
i feel i won’t have to pretend to be the one
who has a say in what happens to her.
a hand slips into mine.
sometimes it rests on my waist,
and i force myself not to feel nauseated.
love him. love her. i tell myself repeatedly.
love. love. love. love till i can make up for all my lacks.
my love is my penance, my apology
to anyone who chooses me as their destiny.

“Sandstorm” – Nayana Nair

The sandstorm is just another setting
for this story to continue.
There are no trees in our desert
that could be broken.
There are only lights that learn to flicker,
there is only skin that knows what this wind carries,
there are only roads that will drown.

With half closed eyes you walk out
to search for what you have left behind.
With half closed door I wait for you to return.
I find another quote in another book
foretelling the loveless life that will continue henceforth.
Another book, another friend I must burn
for speaking the truth, for wanting my best.

I am destined to die on the night of a full moon
without a reason, without a witness,
with a piece of broken mirror becoming a new part of my body-
another prophesy that I wish you had not gifted me.

Three fairies sleep in our bed,
who do not yet know the violence of your broken heart.
I hope you get what you cry for,
I hope you forget our names,
I hope this storm saves us from every moon, every sky.
I hope this storm saves us from you.

“Used to this” – Nayana Nair

The light is not enough.

I must somehow reach the empty glasses
that hold no memories, no magic.
They won’t light up,
and all I can do is to learn to live in dark.
I need to get rid of all of them.
Sure, sitting here in the prison of you,
calling it a garden of leftover love is romantic.
Sure, learning to do everything by myself
all over again can be sort of fun,
I used to be good at that.
It is easy, it is comfortable in fact
to live with this space
that I don’t want to name after you.
I like to say “I have gotten used to this”
as if my heart is bigger than every misfortune left in your wake,
as if I really know how to forget.

“Eavesdrop” – Nayana Nair

From my empty room,
from the edge of my personal cliff,
I looked into the windows of strangers,
looked over their shoulder at texts they write,
looked at the pages where their bookmark rests,
silently waited at the edge of my chair
trying to overhear responses to the big questions.

And all I have known by prying so hard
is that there is nothing there.
Nothing in the text that could pass for shorthand.
The same book rests on the same table for years,
serving only the role of a carefully thought out accessory.
No question is big enough to be carefully considered.
No relationship is important enough to be held to heart.
That I was foolish to believe otherwise till now.
That I am putting myself on another path to heartbreak
if I do not believe in the night that I see.
I must unlearn the way I have lived
to find a place to belong.

In between the cold beginning and cruel ends
that are the parentheses of our lives,
there is nothing for me to hang on to.
But it helps to know
that there are plenty of empty rooms in this painful smaller eternity,
that I need not kill myself over an emptiness so common.
And it is really difficult to feel alone once I know that.

“You cannot be my everything” – Nayana Nair

You are always there when I look back.

That is enough I guess.

I hope I never learn to want more.

“The wind is picking up” – Nayana Nair

The wind is picking up.
The white sand unlike water
sinks everything too slowly.
And so the shade less trees of eucalyptus
become shadows that I learn to love.
They become compass that knows no direction,
but just piece this world to hold,
the silent assurance
that I am not yet lost, though my eyes can’t tell.

***

The wind is picking up.
In the middle of this small storm,
my careful hands writing the date on black board
suddenly realize the need to be held.
And so I fold and create a crease
on another part of my face-
the part that shows my heart too easily.
Someone yells out my name
and unknowingly they moor me to another violence,
another need that I don’t want to carry in me.

“to the one who loved everything true” – Nayana Nair

the truth is
i have loved you
more than what my heart could take.

for years
the only moment
i loved myself, felt proud of myself
were the ones where i put my better judgement in the drain,
were the ones where i clinged onto you even as you made me cry,
were the ones where i suffocated and killed my brain with only your thoughts.

so as you put an end to all that we were
and as i learn to hate you with honesty,
somewhere in me, i know that this end
is what i desperately needed.
this was the peace
that i would have never granted myself.
thank you.

“i hope i forget this life” – Nayana Nair

matter, substance, meaning…
as my vocabulary expanded with such words,
i knew,
i had an inkling
that this is how
i would be disillusioned,
with such small words
i would be driven to despair.

i would find there is another face behind every smile,
and that some of those upturned lips are just empty coffins.
a smile so sad, a wordless lie
so easily becomes the most normal thing.

but do i even want to know
who lives behind such elaborate masks?
do i care to know how they breathe?
do i want to know who breathes in me?
or whether anyone really care about me?

i knew that now,
given that i have learnt to ask
all the questions whose answers can’t be verified,
living and trusting was bound to become harder.
now that i knew
that i am not capable of knowing myself,
seeing my reflection
was bound to get painful and confusing.
confusion is such a small word
for what life does to us.
all the small words
that are easily said than meant-
i hope i forget them
before i forget myself.

“Digestible” – Nayana Nair

to be human is to float like a single cell life
devouring pieces of digestible meaning,
splitting and cutting oneself without blood loss
into something more manageable.
to be human is to lose your legs
to the ideas of nation, families, and lovers.
to be a human like me is to look at
herbivores, carnivores, omnivores, scavengers…
and wonder what hunger feels like.
it is to order love at every other restaurant
waiting for the taste of pain to grow on me,
while i mimic strangers stranded on far away tables
and hope what i am learning is not another dead language.