“Painting Summer” – Nayana Nair

.

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.

“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.

“Sitting in dark” – Nayana Nair

.

I come in the dark hours of my mood
and switch on the lights of empty cubicles.
49 switches
and yet nothing works on me.

I walk past
the empty seats
seats that belong to people
I see everyday,
I smile to everyday,
who have never seen my smile in reality.

For few hours
I can be happy again.
I am free
to be alone,
to be miserable,
to be able to curse myself
but not being confused by the presence
of these people,
who are there for me
but not only for me,
but for everyone.
And not always,
but only when it suits them.

It is better that I am alone
because I don’t know
how to be thankful to them
without being bitter,

how to voice out the emptiness that flows into me
every moment I spend with them
and not feel hatred for the kind of person my words paint me to be,

how to wait for them with eager heart
when their kind words only remind me of monsters

that force their way into my life.

It is better that I am alone
It would have been better
if I could wear these feelings with ease,
without waiting for something to change.

“Fumbling for better words, better me ” – Nayana Nair

I find myself trapped
between forgiveness and frustration.

How often have I said
that I want to be your strength.
How easy it was to say it
when I didn’t really know you or me.

But now
when your breaking and my sadness
is of your making
I am fumbling for better words-

words that can show my heart
that aches for you and because of you,

words that don’t forget or diminish your own hurt
while talking about the parts of me that are finally dying
after loving you for so long,

words that show my hatred for my brittle self,
for my heart that is not big enough
for real pain or real forgiveness.

Now I don’t know to talk about saving you,
about loving you in spite of the demon you warned me about,
the part of you that is stronger than me and you,
together or apart.

As I kiss you
I hear the other part of you
digging playgrounds in rain, erasing you furiously from
your skin, coloring each bruise with paint of happiness,
clawing me, scaring me, making me scared for you.

As I kiss you
I want to stand with you in your nightmare
I want you to have someone beside you for once.
As I kiss you
I want to run far away from your world
and forget this love.

“50 goodbyes a day” – Nayana Nair

There are no dances waiting for us,
no innocent moments of sunlight,
no darkness or headlights striking our windows,
nothing worth the wait.
We are stranded here in this life.
We are stranded on a planet
far away from our home-
a home that becomes more and more beautiful,
the more we are convinced there is no way back.

Here the days are longer than our lifespan combined.
Here we record 50 goodbyes to ourselves a day.
The air, the hurricanes,
the rain, the smile,
this peace of mind
are all just luminescent chemicals
that delivers more than its promise
of a near death exhilaration.

The rainbow of lies is our constant sky
the friend we cannot live without.
It is the only thing
that helps us live with the dust of betrayal
that settles on the clothes left out to dry-
another thing we much dust away and forget,
another thing we must do to be called a “good sport”.

I sit here knitting another version
of my beautiful glorious past,
another tribute to the world filled with rare ordinary
and you sit across me
complaining about what the world has come to
as you paint my brain to match the new you-
one less insecurity in this perfect world.

“maybe once” – Nayana Nair

his name doesn’t feel like a dying world now.
once,
maybe once
blue was his favorite word,
i was his favorite person thing medicine game hope
but now that he is burning all his notebooks
i believe life is getting better for him.
he paints skies for me, paints me flowers
that have never known cold.
once,
maybe once
i could let myself rest in him
but now that he has found himself
i can’t bear to be lost in front of him.

"Ports" – Nayana Nair

a blue cloudy sky over a banana plantation.
the only word to be heard – rebellion.
someone is crying far away.
another round of bullets leave the shaking hands
of the one who can’t seem to stop crying.
now he must die just like me.
he rests his bloody head and its murky thoughts on me.
in this last afternoon of my life
i drift into bouts of darkness,
without fear for first time,
with the company of only his confused memories.
will this be my last dream – his life?
even in his head my homeland and its afternoons are beautiful.
he has a face that he doesn’t want to forget,
he has childhood home he can always return to
but he didn’t, he regrets it now.
he remembers the red color that his sister
stopped wearing on her lips
once her heart was broken badly.
how he kept it with himself, as a symbol of happiness
that he can’t have only for himself.
there are ports on rainy days
and buildings that became sadder at night.
he once painted the window that would never open to him
or anyone else for that matter.
he cried when another nameless woman was found lifeless
on the last page corner of newspaper
and the window never lighted anymore.
there is a cafe filled with few bombs that didn’t go off
where the only one spared was him.
he doesn’t want to be spared anymore.
i wonder if he thinks that he can have happiness when he ends.
i wonder if i will be able to smile on a rainy day, even if i am born again.

“Last to know” – Nayana Nair

I regret to tell you this
that the blue sky that you died for
is not longer blue.
It is painting its face with remains
of our greed, with the colors of our wars.
But it is still sort of fair.
It is trying hard not to choose sides,
not to become the flags that unites
only those whose favorite words are
‘future’, ‘safety’,’money’, ‘greatness’,
while they clutch in their hands the fate of people
they don’t identify with-
‘burden’ they call them.
‘Fear’ is another favorite word of theirs.
They don’t speak much of it, but it is most useful
or at least that’s what I have heard
from the ones we are no longer allowed to call out or even mock.
I have lost every bit of my passive aggressiveness.
Life has become more bearable
now that my skin is not broken for making too much noise,
now that we have learnt to hold each other’s tongue
so that we may not lose more friends than we already have.
I regret to tell you
that your dreams will remains dreams
and you might be one of the last to know
how dreams felt in your eyes,
how tomorrow used to change by effort.

“Delicate” – Nayana Nair

On Sundays, I wear the purple summer dress
that I once promised myself I would never wear.
I paint my nails, I color my lips, and I open the windows in me.
I become someone I was taught to hate, I try to break
my hatred with my smile.
I let myself be reigned
by the greed for beautiful, sweet, shining things.
I think of all the things I have tried not to want.
I let myself be the delicate vulnerable woman
that is easy to love, easy to idolize,
easy to abuse, easy to blame, and easy to hate.
I tell myself that it is not my fault,
but the more I live the harder it becomes to believe it.
I fall asleep on the floor where first I tasted blood,
wondering why I can never give up on this dress, this dream
that has given me nothing but hurt.

“Inviting the Gray Life” – Nayana Nair

My memories of deprivation,
of yearning
are placed in,
are shot
with the background of
aesthetic picturesque urban structures,
with the clear skies
that only peace or money can paint.

***

How sad
that I feel the need to break down
in grander messed up place and time-
to make this loss real,
to make myself real,
to shed this one tear
that my body refuses to part with.