“Surface” – Nayana Nair

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I want to write of things I don’t know of.
About the feelings I never had,
the bodies that never surfaced
in the rivers that exist only on the grounds
of treasure-less maps,
the feelings I spoke of but never ever actually felt
as if it happened to me.
My love was like everyone else’s,
so much that I was acutely aware of their borrowed nature.
I want to write of things I don’t know of,
about a love that is truly mine, a feeling that is not plagiarized.
When you casually say “you don’t know anything of love”
I don’t want to feel guilty, like I always do.

“The Light of White Tulips” – Nayana Nair

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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.

“Dry Rivers” – Nayana Nair

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The river is finally running dry.
I heard someone rejoicing to hear this.
What is a river without it’s water?
I am told it is money, it is development,
it is more money.

Another colony, dozens of businesses springs up.
There is nothing to be sad anymore.
I walk on the roads trying to trace
the skeleton of what is lost.

Now, I know the names of few more rivers
that are nowhere to be seen on maps.

The numbers of such ghost keep increasing.

There is a language that no one cares for.
There is a city that forces everyone to leave.
There are words that don’t sound fancy anymore.
There is an accent that needs to be exorcised from tongues-
the identity of what we are is a secret,
something we can be killed for.

But it is the season, the world
where rivers dry out beautifully,
where aches turn into anger, into revenge,
into art, into denials,
into search for something new.
But rarely does it turns into tears.

How is it we have so much to lose,
so much that is already lost
and yet have so little to grieve about.

“Under the Blue” – Nayana Nair

The button of self-destruct was never so glorious,
never so definite, never so absolute
until she uttered “end” and it sounded like “home” to me.

I feared looking at the mark of x on my maps
that she had found with great pains.
The blue under the mark looked so harmless even when it was not.

Only when I saw her tears disappear with along with her
in the waters that no one dares to drink,
did I realize that I also had been drowning all along.

“To know this world” – Nayana Nair

The world is not really like what the map tells you,
what the news tells you,
what YouTube tells you, what your people tell you.
To know what you really feel about something
you have to ignore all the hearsay, all the generalization.
To really know something or someone,
sometimes you have too forget yourself first.

“Keeping alive the happy me” – Nayana Nair

My day to day wanderings
take me to places and people
(and websites)
who have never known a happy me.
I ask them “am i fine today?”
and they answer “yes”.
So I search the map
for a river in a distant city to cry by.
So that they continue answering ‘yes’.
So I can continue calling this hiding a “fresh start”.

“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?

“Landmark” – Nayana Nair

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There always remains a distance between us
that cannot be crossed by foot, by word,
or by even tearing and pasting our maps a bit more closer.
But it is okay.
Let us not lose what we have for what is not needed.
We do not need to cross all that separates us.
We do not need to make it the objective of our love.
We can remember it
as the landmark near which we can always find each other,
as the world that must exist, for us to exist.

“Map” – Nayana Nair

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I lose memory of the nights
when you crept up the walls of my life.
When you planted the seeds of doubt
and made my each step wary
and my words full of fear.
One day I woke up knowing
that I was not me, but you.
I was living the second chance of your life.
I could no longer make the decisions
that I want to make.
I just had to stay clear
of all your mistakes.
That was my map.
Everything else,
even me,
seemed hazy and inconsequential
in front of your plans.
But how long can we bear
the weight that no one put on us,
that we stole from their stories and silent sobs.
How much of our life is ours?