“The ocean is so huge and weird” – Nayana Nair

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I drew her shadow on sand.

She stood still, her tiny shoulders
and ribs (that thankfully can no longer be seen)
moved gently with each breath.
Each tiny breath
like the wave that swept in,
like her laughter used to be.
She looks at me and asks if it is done.
I nod. I meant to say “almost”.
Just like I had meant to say “stop”,
or “please don’t” or “take me and spare her”.
She doesn’t wait for my answers anymore.
She skips over the boundaries of our shadows.

Her outline of me drawn in shaky fingers,
looks like a human being pulled apart
beside her own shadow – a child, complete and perfect.
But she looks at her shadow and calls it weird,
just like how she called the ocean weird.

For her
the smiling children in the glossy magazine were weird,
a chocolate bar without an occasion. without a reason were weird,
the memories of home she wanted to forget were weird,
the days she walked to school with her friend
and the days the sun went down as she slept over the
struggles of homework were weird.
She sat down and tried to come up with an answer for my “why”.

“the ocean is so huge.
as huge as, all the things i can’t have
but once i had them. it is weird.

it is weird how this ocean is mine now,
the breeze is mine along with the sky
but i don’t want them.

you have memorized my shadow.
you keep bringing me back to life
but you tear up so easily as if even you don’t believe yourself.
as if you don’t believe in me .

sometimes i feel that this ocean is our gift to each other,
it is our heart free of our bodies.
sometimes i believe that i am here and you are here
and the world where my head can rest in your lap
still exists.”

“Weight of Snow” – Nayana Nair

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The light – yellow, diffused, and scattered – falls here everyday
on the cold marble of my home.
It is winter already, which means there must be places on earth now
where turning on taps is a useless exercise,
where a whole street wakes up early
to remove the snow piling up in them, around them,
snow continues piling far away from their settlements
where there is no need to clear them,
where the weight of snow doesn’t suffocate anyone.
There must be places now where people are forgetting things one by one.
Remembering an unreal ocean of fierce light,
forgetting ever being there.
How many places have I forgotten already?
I move two chairs into the circle of warmth
and wait for the evening cold to reach my skin,
to end this dream.
I stare at the empty chair.
I draw myself sitting there, staring,
as if I cannot live without an empty space beside me.
What was that space once?
It was something warm with skin and heart and voice.
It was light in human form, it was the most beautiful life.
But that empty chair in the sun, has been empty for so long
it couldn’t possibly have been me
who existed when it was something more than that.

“Named after stars” – Nayana Nair

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And if we are to delete, to remove,
to erase and whiten the papers
that are not a part of our hearts anymore,
then hand me the forms you want burned,
the words you wish you never heard,
and I’ll help you with your share of forgetting,
just like how you helped me memorize my own name once.

If we are to walk through the burning towns,
that we created with our own hands, which we named after stars,
to find something that is not poisoned by our time together,
then I’ll do the walking for you.

In a room filled with light
I imagine myself breaking apart, it will happen for sure,
but it doesn’t pain me yet.
But I fear the tears that will find your eyes,
the marks of flowing rivers, the civilization of sorrow
settling and flourishing on your face,
if you were to fall in love with something that is already lost.

I fear your loving nature.
I fear your heart to work for the impossible.
I fear you might see our past and mistake it for our future.
If you try to protect me even in our end,
I fear I will be left with no way out.

“Like no other” – Nayana Nair

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The food tastes better today.
The light today falls just right into me.
“This would be a day like no other”, I thought
as someone wished me a happy day on radio
before playing a song that shredded my remaining patience
into bright bitter words that fit me better.
And now armed with an unreasonable and off-putting frown
I walk towards the house where my love lived.
I knew on a day like this
she would still be somewhere far away from every world of mine
and my knocks would bounce back
from everything of hers she didn’t want.
I stood there talking to my friends
who differ from me only in the fact
that they don’t have to walk this world in hope and fear of change.
I pick another flower which will definitely end with
she remembers me, not
she will return, not
she is here, not
As my shoulders melts to fit
the memory of her outline,
the song changes to something that refuses to end with
i will forget her eventually
i will be fine like everybody else
i will find what it means to be me, by myself
and something about that was relieving.
The false belief that I will be stuck in time
even if it was with a memory of her, with false hopes
sounded better than hearing the approaching steps
of the day that will cure me of her.

“There is no undo button in this world” – Nayana Nair

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I remember you almost every day.
I remember you when I wake up and cannot go back to sleep,
when my skin feels heavy and my eyes melt into tears.
I remember you when I find my way to the impossible happiness
that shouldn’t exist for someone like me.
And in those moments I do something worse-
I end up asking heaven for forgetfulness of some kind.

Even when I know forgetting won’t save you,
apologizing won’t save you,
charity to strangers in your stead won’t save you,
becoming a better person won’t save you.
But even then I remain selfish
Even then I wish for a painless way out.

I become guilty of one more crime
every time I wish to erase the memory
of you falling apart in my hands.
The more I wear my clean clothes,
the more the world believes in the goodness I now have in me;
The more I know that there is no way forward for me
just as there is no way back.

You still remain the unuttered name in my prayers.
And all that my prayers do
is to show me the hurt I can never take back.
The god who refuses to save you
is also the one who keeps me alive.

“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.

“If I Keep Walking” – Nayana Nair

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From wherever it may be,
if I keep walking straight
and try not to think of the destination,
eventually I feel the pavement turn to dust.
Slowly, stones dating to the oldest dates
in the recorded history of my life
start appearing one by one.

They sprout new mouths, they learn new words,
they grow into roads, into pillars,
into gateways, and into the walls of the places
where I am no longer welcome.
The fabric of present, my strange choice of words,
my skin that doesn’t belong to this time
all such things make me an alien, make me a pitiful stranger
in a place I know more than myself.

My laughter lives in those places,
with people who can’t find their way to me,
just like I can’t find my way to them.
I hold onto the walls when my tears start killing me,
I tell myself, it will be fine, if I just keep walking.
I tell myself, I will eventually remember my way out of this moment,
as I always have.

But now I can’t. I don’t want to. Maybe I am not meant to.
Maybe the answer lies in never forgetting,
maybe that’s the love I am meant to have.
Maybe waiting is the answer that will suit my weak heart,
since pretending can only get me this far.

I sit on the benches of deserted parks with with my bloodless heart,
and I imagine melting here in this imaginary sun.
I feel happiness might have been something like that,
but I can’t remember it, even though it was once mine.

“Millimeters” – Nayana Nair

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I folded her note and placed it carefully in my wallet. And I smiled. I told her something I do not remember now. It was something sweet, something weird, because that was the only sort of thing that could make her smile like that.

I folded her smile and placed it carefully in my wallet. And I smiled for a bit. I smiled till I saw the crease that now divided her in half. Trying to ignore the apparition of her breaking, trying to ignore my guilty heart, I gave her few words to smile about. She smiled as if she knew nothing. She smiled as if she knew everything that could ever be hidden in my heart.

I folded her forgiveness and placed it in my wallet. I smiled apologetically. She smiled back as if this is what love was. I recited to her all her favorite promises, probably to soothe my own heart.

I folded another note of forgiveness, and another, and another. The thickness of my wallet and her cracks increased by millimeters, they always walked hand in hand, unlike us. I bought her new flowers and she bought me new wallets. With a smile she told me something untrue about us, something that she could believe in. Maybe she waited for me to tell her something true for once.

But I folded every truth about us and hid it in the memories we won’t find our way back to. And just when I thought nothing can go wrong. I realized that I had also left her at that place where I was not allowed to live. She stared out and smiled from the warm rooms of love, far away from my unlovable heart.

“I think I am” – Nayana Nair

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The person I think I am,

this person with dreams and purpose,
this person with heartful of love
and tears as a proof of its painful blooming,
this person with a lot say and a lot to see
with an agreeable “to-do”
and hidden “what-if-I-never” list,
this person good enough to be included in your plans,
in your friendly banter, in your group chats,
in your betrayals, in your short-lived love,
in your museums of wax, in your corrupting memory,
in your unreliable heart

this person
– this image,
is merely an excuse I give to world,
an excuse I give to myself.
So that I can continue to exist
even when I don’t know why I must.

“I looked for you” – Nayana Nair

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In the orange forest of drowning suns
I saw your face in the light going out first.
I stood with my empty nets, on a boat, with oars
that won’t budge, won’t sail away from your closing eyes.
I played this only memory I had of you
throughout my journey back.
When my feet found a ground to breathe again,
you had already grown bigger, sadder, scarier,
sorrier presence in my life.

Through my dinner that night,
I thought up names you may have had,
the people you may have loved,
the heartaches you thought would never end.
I thought of how easily things end,
how nothing in our heart
can save our heart from this lonely end.
Were you thankful or sad that you had to know this,
to share this realization
with a stranger made of cold eyes and numb limbs?

That night I looked for your body in every ocean I had in me.
I don’t know what was the point of this search
but I knew I had to do something about you,
that my feet had to walk distances because of you,
that something in me must hurt more than it did now.
That finally I had to die with you,
to know what I don’t know now,
to know even a fraction of your pain.
I was sad and relieved that my need to know you
ended there – with that thought,
with the steps I cannot take.