“Breathing Cities and Statues” – Nayana Nair

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When I try to imagine,
to recall the face of another human being.

I always see them standing opposite me
with an expressionless face, holding out their hand.

When they are ghosts of pasts,
they are breathing cities of peculiarities and possibilities.
I feel they were waiting for my hand to touch theirs.
I feel as if they have saved up their last smile for that moment.
The steps I couldn’t take, can now never take,
they look so easy, so worth it, so worth keeping as regrets.

But I never learn
because
when they are reflections of present,
they are breathing statues
and frozen hearts that couldn’t possibly beat.
I know that this hand is not for me,
that I have extinguished the smile on that face
just by being myself, just by existing.

Only the warm breath of passing time
can make me miss the world that could have been.
Only on the streets I cannot walk
grow my trees of faith.

But even then, even for the past
I barely feel any love.
What I feel is something similar to
the relief in the things that won’t change.
The pull I feel is for the trust that can never be broken,
my heart that I never had to give out,
the hand of every stranger that remained innocent thereby.

“It took me years, it took me you, to find a truth that was not a selfish reflection of me” – Nayana Nair

.

Once she had a bite of my fate
she became a restless ghost.
She looked like all my ugly wishes staring back at me
but she had a beautiful smile so it was more bearable to my eyes
than to wear my own desperate words on my unsightly lips.
She looked out of place, but in a good way
as if she was the invitation to some place where my light won’t die.
Even in her voice it was my own words
that asked me to leave, that told me to love for the last time.
As my shrieks danced in the empty corridors
she planted a seed of eucalyptus in my palm,
she covered my hand with hers,
and covered our hands in dirt.
She told me how, for years, only the smell of eucalyptus
could calm her mind,
it made her believe that there was a gentle cure
to every disease that hurt her heart.
As she spoke such words that were not extraordinarily sad
I felt my spine become soft.
I dreamt of her leaning against my back
relieved of her every pain
and maybe it was the only beautiful wish
that has ever been born from my heart.
Once I touched the shadow of her heart
I grew and bloomed and learnt to be the one
who waits, heals,
loves, and breaks without bounds.

“Virtual Image” – Nayana Nair

the image in mirror is never formed

I copied this slowly
from my friend’s notes,
reading too much into it.

I moved my hands
over the new definition of real.

I traced the lines, the dull path of light
as faithfully as I could
but the solid blue lines of ink touch the glass
and are broken cleanly by the laws of reflection, every time.

Only I am left in this world of real stuff
tracing back the path
that only their changed selves could have taken.

But what difference does that make?
People who have changed
do they even want those old dreams?

Probably not, for all I see are points abandoned,
in the world of unpublished fiction
surrounded by crosses of dotted lines,
like the ones that are meant to be torn slowly.

the image in mirror is never formed

But it is there, in front of me.
By some miracle they exist
even when they don’t.

Doesn’t that count as real?

The emptiness in me
and in it your face.

Doesn’t that count as real?

“Red Gates” – Nayana Nair

I drowned the flowers
one by one.
The poison of beauty
now runs through the rivers
on this land,
they fill his backyard
in every season of rain.
A child with his smile
drowns another boat of dreams,
the flood is a field of paper,
the flood is all that is left of me.
She stares into me,
waiting for a reflection to surface.
She walks into me
to see where I end.

She tells me about the boy
she can’t love and the boy
she can’t blame
as I dissolve and submerge
the red gates of her house,
the garden of forgiveness,
her school shoes, all roads to her friend
who doesn’t smile back anymore,
the spoons that remind her of hunger
for farthest worlds and people.

She asks me how deep will be this pain
of losing herself, how long she would have to smile
through this hate.
I flow into her heart,
wondering, if there
I could turn back to the flower I was,
if the end of my hate could be
the end of her pain.
If I could be her answer of hope.

“Now I cannot hate myself” – Nayana Nair

But now I am not
me anymore.
Now I cannot hate myself
like I used to before.
Liking myself was never option,
for me anyway.
If only I could be one person
with a constant heart,
maybe then I could have
understood myself with enough time,
could have found the heart to see myself
as a mere human that I am.
But this,
this possession of my body
and my heart
by a new unknown
everyday
is tiring.
Today
the loneliness that I couldn’t show,
the songs I was supposed to forget,
the kiss that never left my lips
all become my new self.
Tomorrow it will be something else.
But it is a tiring relief
to lose my hate to confusion.

“Not So Bad” – Nayana Nair

he sings the most beautiful song.
so beautiful
that the sky becomes a reflection of the heart
that he can barely carry in himself.
the words on his lips
they break, they sound different,
feel different,
they sound like the first cry of a baby-
the violent coming to life.
they run and collide and shatter
against the rough indifferent surface
of this dying world, a not-so-bad world.
he becomes a not-so-bad singer.
as he runs out of breath and love
someone places a coin of gold in his hands.
he means to feel grateful for this compensation,
but all he can do is hold his tongue, hold his tears.
hold his bitterness in himself
and sing another song dreaming, waiting
for an honest reply, a genuine care,
an understanding gaze in return for laying bare his humanness.

“Deer” – Nayana Nair

In our reflection in the disappearing stream
you look like the golden deer
that I am not supposed to want.
The water angels,
one of which we might end up
eating for dinner tonight,
swims into my face, distorting the light in my eyes,
splitting my lips, my cheeks, my smile into two,
into four, into hundred, into thousand pieces of light.
Till I am forced to admit
that I must stop here.
So I leave, making my last excuse.
I walk away trying to forget
the monstrous face I wear
when I am at the verge of breaking the world for my wants.

“The wind is picking up” – Nayana Nair

The wind is picking up.
The white sand unlike water
sinks everything too slowly.
And so the shade less trees of eucalyptus
become shadows that I learn to love.
They become compass that knows no direction,
but just piece this world to hold,
the silent assurance
that I am not yet lost, though my eyes can’t tell.

***

The wind is picking up.
In the middle of this small storm,
my careful hands writing the date on black board
suddenly realize the need to be held.
And so I fold and create a crease
on another part of my face-
the part that shows my heart too easily.
Someone yells out my name
and unknowingly they moor me to another violence,
another need that I don’t want to carry in me.

“i hope i forget this life” – Nayana Nair

matter, substance, meaning…
as my vocabulary expanded with such words,
i knew,
i had an inkling
that this is how
i would be disillusioned,
with such small words
i would be driven to despair.

i would find there is another face behind every smile,
and that some of those upturned lips are just empty coffins.
a smile so sad, a wordless lie
so easily becomes the most normal thing.

but do i even want to know
who lives behind such elaborate masks?
do i care to know how they breathe?
do i want to know who breathes in me?
or whether anyone really care about me?

i knew that now,
given that i have learnt to ask
all the questions whose answers can’t be verified,
living and trusting was bound to become harder.
now that i knew
that i am not capable of knowing myself,
seeing my reflection
was bound to get painful and confusing.
confusion is such a small word
for what life does to us.
all the small words
that are easily said than meant-
i hope i forget them
before i forget myself.

“Rainbows and Reflection” – Nayana Nair

I always thought
that I could be happy,
really happy,
forever happy,
if only I could make myself love happiness.

Though I approached this strange kid,
though I pretended to be good
and as holy as humans can be,
I had nothing to say this ever smiling child.
All the standard stories
I had prepared for this heavy chore
of presenting myself to this world,
were not for her ears.

I could never make myself fill her head with such darkness.
Why should she know of the categories of suffering and where I fit,
about the worth that every person has to earn.
This kid looked at rainbow and reflections with marvel,
prayed before every meal, believed in every story told.
There was nothing I could say to her.
I could not make her see me, befriend me, understand me
without changing her into me.

Only my love for this happiness
stands in my way
of the heaven I have dreamt in futile.