“Something Simple” – Nayana Nair

.

The evening melts into my drink.
“I must burn something of myself here.
I must burn to remember this, to remember her.”,
I keep repeating this to myself as I stand beside the dying fire.
Suddenly my teeth ache for something cold to sink into.
I remember the orange color that used to spread on my tongue
as I drowned myself in the glass bottles of artificial citrus,
running away from the summer that I had waited for.

I walk away from the fireplace,
putting a bit more distance
from the monster that ruled the mantle,
relived to have found something simple to talk about.
I sit beside her and speak in my human voice.
I tell her of this small thought,
this small honest flaw of mine she can play with.

She asks “was that how your childhood was like?”
I could have answered “that’s how my life is and will be”,
but it was more easy to ask “what color was your tongue then?”
She recites from memory a poem.
A poem on the beauty of transparent things,
on the cruelty of everything
that own you without leaving stains,
without giving you a chance to scrub them out of your soul.
She smiled and thus handed me something
that I can consider hers for a while.

“prompts” – Nayana Nair

.

i think of parasols.
i think of wearing my miniature body made of colorful frills,
holding my own soft innocence,
not like something that can be and will be lost
but like something that will never be destroyed,
like something one never gives a second thought about.
i think of never knowing fatigue, never resting.
my skin only knowing the sun.
i think of classrooms fitted with air coolers
i think of home and its beautiful cold floor
i think of places i knew i could always return to
once i was done with my playing, once i felt my hunger.
i think of the time that i lived not knowing not understanding
the appeal or the need of shadows.

i think of stones.
their small happy weight in my hands.
the deftness of my fingers and my wrist as i played.
my palm holding them together,
scattering them, collecting them.
my palm feeling the coldness of the evening,
knowing time through them.
i think of the stones that grew on the sides of broken roads
beside my source of earliest magic
-the touch-me-nots, the insects made of velvet,
and the lost fireflies.
i grew up in a broken forest
wearing stones as brittle as me.

i think of fruits.
their colors that i loved
even when i didn’t like what they were.
they tasted too mellow, too tame,
too transient to me.
their juices just carved a bit more hunger
in my stomach. my stomach that was already learning
to ask for more and more.
i carved their colors in my notebook.
i dreamt of drawing them up on my skin.
this was before i knew what a tattoo was,
before i learnt the dangers of carving things in you
that you can’t possibly love.

“Yellow kills happiness” – Nayana Nair

.

And across this street is my old home,
the one I won’t ever visit.
This year they have painted it yellow.
How sad is that, isn’t it?
My mother hated that color.
She said that yellow kills happiness.
She said such colors convinced even a happy person,
that their smile is not enough.
Her smile, as a rule, was mostly not enough for anyone
and it made sense to me that she would hate
to compete with her wallpapers, her furniture,
her mirror, her curtains – for the sake of validating
her existence and importance.

The woman who stole our lives years later – I heard her
telling my mother
that “she was an insecure woman, that she was bound to lose”.
As if she, who paints this house now
with horrible colors every year, knew what loss is.
My mother – she liked browns and greys and greens.
She grew life out of her blood.
She loved dearly and irrationally-
whenever she sat still
and saw at us smiling and playing,
she would break into tears.
We loved her more dearly for that.

She loved that house
and the man that owns it.
She hated herself a bit too much.
She tried not to
but saving her was a work she had to do by herself
-a tiring chore, no one wanted to be part of.
She brought us the most beautiful yellow frocks one day
and looked at us, trying to love something impossible through us.
She looked at us hoping that her love for one thing
could make her bear her hate for another.
Like a fool, she believed
that her trying would mean something to this world.

“The truth doesn’t matter to me” – Nayana Nair

.

And when asked if my words could be relied on,
if what I wrote was true.
I answered, “My life doesn’t know truth
as much as it knows love.
But when it comes to love, my words fails me,
I fail myself, before anyone else.
Failing is nothing to be proud of
and failing in love is like filling oneself
with doubts and faults that never existed before.
I can never be myself again.
My standing up or my lying defeated
may make a difference to the world,
my truth might matter to the everyone else
but not to me.

To me, what matters is already lost.
Now I just get to live a life of pretense –
play house, play life, play hearts
with people who seek truth in wrong places- in me.
If I asked if you can be relied on,
if you know the meaning of words you speak.
You might answer yes to keep my heart, to be better at love.
You might answer no and I will know it to be true even as I smile.
But nothing you say actually matters
the world will end and we will end long before that
and I will end before you-
because of you
or in spite of you.

You might turn out to be my last true love
or you might be the last nail in my heart.
But if I write a poem on eternal love
of someone whose shadows roughly look like ours,
know it is a lie we will never live up to,
but also know it is what I saw in us
even if it cannot be called truth,
even if it won’t be us.

“I’m all for sad feelings. I’m all about hard love.” – Nayana Nair

.

All I could do
was to wait
for the stone of doubt
and my rippled heart
to settle.

But my surface never knows peace
the veins of leaves, the claws of birds,
they touch me and demand an expression
and I play along. I give way to them.

I am learning giving way, giving in
is what people call love.
And the core of what I am, therefore,
doesn’t believe in love.

The tired core of me would have probably
believed in love if it was not so easy to get,
a love that was never a win-win situation,
that demanded a bit more hurt,
that asked me to see someone outside of myself.

“I never have to wonder, I never have to break” – Nayana Nair

.

In the shade of a fruitless spring-less tree
as I tried to recall and write down
all the phone numbers I once knew by heart,
I looked at the sky
and laughed for thinking too highly
of myself and thinking too little about my heart.
That is the last thing I remember
before I was possessed.

Oddly I always remember this point of contrast
marked by the last tear I actually cried.
Whatever now had made home in me
convinced me
that I could be complete even if I stay as who I am,
that I could stand in this world
witnessing beauty, love, companionship, faith, life
and be happy
even if it could do nothing for me, even if they were not mine.

Someone, who couldn’t possibly have been me,
lived my life in my place from that moment,
and I never had to wonder again
if I am allowed to live like this.
I never picked up another paper I threw in the trash.
I now never tried to play the role of the one with bigger heart.
I was finally free of hope, of love, of being myself.
Now it was the work of whoever wanted this body,
whoever wanted my life.

“I looked for you” – Nayana Nair

.

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.

“Pendulums and Spirit Animals” – Nayana Nair

In my beautiful dreams
I run to you, as if you are my body,
as if I cannot press play without your hands,
as if the world won’t come into my grasp
without your skin.

When my eyes open,
I don’t mind losing the world
if it helps me get rid of you.

An animal in me cries out your name every hour
my panic filled voice shouts back – “shut up!!!”.
I must choose, I must give up on one thing,
if I want to be something more than a lifeless
pendulum.

In a room scented with disinfectant
as I wait for my turn
I wonder if the man in white coat
will sing me something beautiful
when he puts me down for good.

“Now what?” – Nayana Nair

For a change I made breakfast for one
and didn’t cry over it.
I didn’t turn back as he packed his favorite parts
of this heavy life with me.
He didn’t ask me about the things I have hidden away.
I felt a bitter thankfulness
that my memories are mine to keep,
that my beautiful moments have been erased from his heart,
that I am not a part of his greed and schemes anymore,
that nothing in me can be ruined by him after this.

I simply stared at the milk that won’t boil
as he dragged away in his small heart
the window frames, the doors to my cold world,
the warm flame of my blue stove,
the table mats on which we spilled our hearts by mistake,
the songs that I will never be able to sing again,
the doorbell, the welcome mat, our plants
that never grew more than a millimeter
in spite of the four years
of sunlight and rain.
Mistakes. We created so much with love,
only to call them mistakes.

I heard the door close behind me,
my so called “heart” moving away without me
and all I could do was hope or pity myself.
All I could do was hate him
so that I can finally give up.

“mornings break us apart again” – Nayana Nair

she traced the light on my chest
pulled out everything that stung-
the swings, my feet,
the shadow i decided no longer to play with.

the comparision table of veins and arteries
copied into my notebook.
the eraser and pencil that helped me document
in those tables my lackings compared to everyone else.

a page torn, and then another, and then another.
pages that learnt immortality by choosing my heart as home.

she stayed up nights trying to free me
as i stuggled and begged not to empty me.
she smiled and said the words she didn’t mean,
words that i wanted to hear from someone, anyone.

so i slept because she couldn’t be stopped.
“leave me alone” now hurt me more than her.
i opened my eyes and cried
for her work was done,
now i was no one, now nothing was mine,
not even my pain, not even her.

she dusted her cobweb skirt,
placed a kiss on my forehead
and told me to breathe,
breathe in everything
that i didn’t think i had the right to.

she told me to breathe
and to never forget what suffocation felt like.
it helps in becoming kind, she said.

as she wiped clean her traces from my life,
i felt better, again i was full.
i was full of her, of this love that won’t work out.
being full of her, i refused to breathe,
because i wanted to keep it that way.