“The roads that I promised never to walk on” – Nayana Nair

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There are so many things that I wait to see again
and none of them will do my heart any good.
There are mountains and flags and footsteps
all settled into the sleep, lost in this busy blue.
Some call it drowning. Some call it the end of things.
Some wait for it to rise and become the lonely peak once again.
Some like me float my boat on this ocean
all dressed in sad flashy optimism
with my poor eyesight and a grainy foresight
ready to cry.
Some like me wait for the things they fear,
wait for the things that break, that tear.

All beautiful things of past are now buried
under a common grave with no stone, no epitaph.
I can’t tell apart my love from theirs.
My growing years, my diminishing heart,
the roads that I promised never to walk on,
the hands I promised never to leave-
they call it theirs.
They hold it in their arms
whenever after years of aimless floating
their boat gets caught by a shadow
that wants them.

Meanwhile I am afraid of holding back anything
that tries to stop me. Every pull frightens me
that I might love something that is not mine
that I will never know if this happiness is just
my sickness of water, sickness of search and waiting.
I can never look anyone in the eye
in the fear of seeing someone else’s tears,
in the fear of seeing my own corruptibility reflected.

And yet I can’t seem to end this search
for there are so many things I fear I will never feel again
if I end it all here.
Though they happen to be the same things
that I am incapable of believing in ever again.

“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.”

“Hand-painted walls” – Nayana Nair

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The answer to your question-
the truth you always ask and wonder about
is there
somewhere inside me.
But inside me are many other things
that I have not been able to find till now.
And I would have probably invited you in
and asked you to help me a bit
if you were not better than me in every sense.
Just saying this makes me feel so cheap.
It makes me the person I am always trying to hide
and inside me things are a bigger mess.
There is a river of hatred and an ocean of guilt,
the walls of past that I paint over and over
but things just keep looking worse.
And though you hope to find a sky of love there,
though you hope to find a true love or a true end,
I would rather not be loved for the possibility of who I can be,
I would rather not be looked at closely,
or loved a bit more than I deserve.
And what I deserve is a piece of cake
that keeps getting smaller and smaller every day;
a cake I dare not eat, or even want .
I am afraid in my shrinking world,
there is no place for you
or anything called truth.

“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.

“Always Shining” – Nayana Nair

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Are they finally drowning?
The sails, the flags, the songs
the party, and the expensive backless silks.
The rings and guns and blood shining.
Always shining.
They are finally coming for us.
We will again have someone’s face in front of us
at least for a while
and we will sing songs
that they have no choice but to listen to.
The cries and shrieks and the stories
that we had saved in us will not go waste.

They have not yet seen us
rotting
feets and feets below them
but somethings take time.
The water will fill them
but they will never grasp
the slow violence and its finality.
They will look above at the lost sky,
they will not know what they are looking for
as the concepts of hope and god and saving
becomes grayer in their head.
They will keep struggling
feeling all promises becoming breathless in them
and they will miss the point of saying goodbye.
We always do.

Darling, they are coming
our children, our neighbors, our dear strangers,
our ministers, our wood, our sky, our eyes,
our new memories.
Now we can die together and actually die
and not be haunting blue in this green ocean.
I missed living dear
but I missed them more –
everyone, everything taken away from us.
We have waited patiently, wishing them life.
We have prayed for them to stay away from wherever we are.
But now they are coming
and I cannot help but selfishly smile
at seeing everything coming back to us.

“Even when things are right” – Nayana Nair

“The sky is your canvas”,
the book to all ailments said,
“there is a joy in filling it up with life.”
But as I finished my 157th sketch,
as I finished my 300th one,
as I finished the one with no count attached
(the one I called “the limits that were stronger than me”),
as I write over all that I had drawn,
as the clouds dragged themselves painfully
crawling to some better place,
like everything else in my life
the sky remained unchanged.

And when I lost my hands to fate, to slow corrosion,
to the burden of creation,
to the lady in white who couldn’t even lie that “it won’t hurt”,
to the painful work of making up things that I want,
things that would want me back, or at least won’t walk out,
to the hunch that said something is seriously wrong
with the kind of life I have.

I wished for the man in the sky
to wake up and get to work,
to make me some rain,
to drop an ocean of crystal on this world,
to paint a heaven on this cheap sky of this miserable man.

Because trying on some days, on most days now,
feels like living against the wishes of the world.
I can’t help but break a bit, cry a bit
even when things are right,
because they right only because of my efforts.
Can you give me something that I don’t have to work hard for,
something that was made for me,
something that I can keep.
A thing, a person, a sign
that I can hold in my hand
that tells me that you want me to be happy,
that you want me to smile,
that I am not abandoned after all.

“The thought of losing you” – Nayana Nair

Today you are silent
and you don’t care.
You have changed
without changing anything about you.
You don’t want to be concerned with
should-be or could-be
as all that matters is what is.
what-is is a fact that needs no forgiveness
from what-didn’t-come-to-be.
You beg me not drag you down
into the waters of the past, “They are ugly
they are hard, they are things that we can’t have.”
is all you say about the life we once had.
what-didn’t-come-to-be is an ocean I must swim alone,
an ocean that just grows and grows deeper and wider
cause I can’t seem to stop hoping from you.

In the forms of “Renewal and Hope”,
in the forms of “Happy Married Life Again?”,
you fill the reason as “wandering and its joys”.
So I burn up all such papers
where you won’t look me in the eye
and tell me the truth
or at least some believable lie.
I burn away this life
where you wander in every direction but mine.
Where I am not wrong for you,
you just don’t want me to be the right.
“It scares me”, you once said, “the thought of losing you.”
How well you have grown, how far you have strayed
from your words, from yourself, and from everything
that you once happily called fate.

“but the waves run away from me” – Nayana Nair

the trees sway behind me
they tower and droop and die
above the cold parked cars.
i hear the sounds
that i couldn’t till last night
it is music to my ears
and “warnings of ruin” to my mind.
the green monster, the metal carriage,
and their lonely helpless master
face the direction of ocean.
if we were bigger,
if everything before us could melt,
if i could understand distances,
if i could drive
we could have met a love by that ocean,
we could have called ourselves friends
in that molten world,
i could have told them about the human dread of dying,
we could have laughed over it,
and the tree would have held me and my broken and beaten car
in its motherly gaze
and we wouldn’t worry whether this happiness
could heal us or not.

“i am so fond of you” – Nayana Nair

as you melt your heart into oceans
i fear my arms betray me sometimes,
sometimes they go numb,
they surrender at the thought of your warmth.
when you tell me of your love
as i ache for another,
i want a part of me to ache for you as well.
when you settle for being my comfort rather than my love,
i wish i had loved you instead.
but we are selfish dear
i cannot give up
just as you can’t.
we wait to be seen by the one we can’t seem to reach.
we wait because that’s the only answer we have.
we try to forget the love that we can have but don’t want.
i am fond of you,
so forget me if you can.
i can’t bear to see my pitiful self
in you, i can’t bear to drag you down to my hell
only to leave you alone.

“A Big Word” – Nayana Nair

I am happy. Almost.
I leave my bed to sit beside the window
that looks over the road.
I stare at everything that lives and dies beside me.
I will my brain to think of a rhyme
that I can gift this world.
I feel that my love for this ocean
of people far exceeds my loathing.
I am almost happy to be alive.
Though almost is a big word, a painful word.
It is is still smaller than the distance I have covered so far,
it is negligible to everything that has ever stood in my way.
‘Almost’ is something I can overlook,
as long as I have something to look forward to.
I cannot give up on this world even when I should.