“Unchanging facts” – Nayana Nair

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All the stories and songs and
in this part of land, at this end of life – they are all about
the boat and its wood, about the shine of its old surface,
the sound of water it carries even as it sits on the dry
dying land, burning for hours and hours.
Hours not measured in the cups of water nor in the shadows
that refuse to fall in spite of all the light,
but hours measured by the cries of gull, the number of sails torn,
the diminishing weight of the men,
and the the silent wrath of all the glorious water.
We ‘the ones rooted to the shores’,
we sing from the shade of generous trees
to ‘the ones who only knew the abundance
of salt and wounds and undying dreams’,
trying to understand their alien love.
We sing of them and their hateful dreams,
of the tears they forced us to swallow because
they couldn’t love us if we wanted to be their shackles,
we narrate these unchanging facts every morning,
we dig a new grave for the same person again and again,
with each hole in earth as empty as the other.

“The Right Way” – Nayana Nair

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The monsters brought their shadows
as they climbed into my bed
and I gave them stories
that promised to make them human again.
I had talked them into the idea
of change and love and the broken petal
that became a flower overnight
in the embrace of a care so fierce it
that nothing in the world could stay broken
once they knew its warmth
;
just liked they talked me into
the ideas of strength and hiding and the stones
that teach the skin of blood, bruise and eventually a strength
so stubborn that it can never be separated
from our bodies, our sorrows, and our will to fight
.
But many hours and a sleep and a love later
we still found ourselves staring at the
broken windows of hope,
and the stone of disappointments
melting in the morning light like snow.
Each half of our heart now wouldn’t stop crying
and begging for the other half to change.
Every part of us was now contending with each other
on the monopoly of truth, the right way to love,
and the safe ways to die. Our surety of self was evaporating
faster than ever. We were being broken from inside,
scattered for good, while our skins now knew the same battles
of keep up a form, keeping our reality hidden.
But now we could at least now sit in a room
and look each other in eye and smile,
knowing we could never be separate from each other.
Knowing there is no hell or heaven we would go to alone,
no forgiveness only granted to one.
There was no sin or or grace in this kingdom of cries,
there is no beautiful escape from this knowledge of life.

“Always Spring” – Nayana Nair

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There is mercy in shadows,
there is healing in light,
and in the darkness?
There is always something in darkness
but we never know what.
Only there I can invent, imagine
and pretend.
Pretend
that this is my heart,
these are my people,
these noises that scare me
are of ghosts,
here I can see their teary eyes
Pretend
that the one coming towards me is
a kind monster,
that the bleeding has stopped
that outside is spring,
is a life better and wider than this
Outside is always spring
till I don’t open the windows,
till I don’t look out.
What a sad fragile relief this darkness is.
A never-ending cycle of hope and pain.

“truth as truth” – Nayana Nair

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even if i loved
it was all in vain
and if i couldn’t be loved
what good was i anyway

i utter such atrocities
hoping no one takes me seriously
yet hoping someone would cry.
i can’t tell from here
if i have broken anyone yet.
there is only blindness where i stand.
there is only light where i am allowed to be.
the lights stay on me.
the shadow of curtains comes down
on the momentary truth that hangs at my lips.

i wake up
and read about the dream i sold
looking for the cracks i made
but all i got was “pain looks good on her“.
i wonder if i am really that beyond hope.
my blood shines and my tears have wings.
my brokenness isn’t broken enough.
even in my honest moments
i only seem make pain more beautiful.
to be cared for, to be tended to
could it ever happen to me, should i even try.
to speak truth as truth
i wonder how that feels like.

“The things we hate are sometimes the only things that can be counted upon” – Nayana Nair

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Even in my nightmares I had a home,
I had the warmth of my own
love-yearning heart whose selfish haunting
was more powerful than the sorrow
of the world itself.
Even when the night came
and killed the song of every bird.
Even when god abandoned my shadow,
even as I dreamt the eyes I loved
drowning in blood, floating towards my end.
I could live,
I could still write poems
under the light of my pain.

“a bird flies” – Nayana Nair

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a bird flies
a blue sky now has to break

a fish, a boat, a storm
has been caught in my dream

a fire must be lit, i must feed myself
to the gods of flames, to the goddesses of smoke,
to the cruel demigods made of ashes

i am awake
and now i must make up new words
new feelings, now i have to make myself a human
now i have to break in acceptable ways

i am facing a human who smiles at me
now i have to give up on half of my blood to stay here,
now my ashes have to nurture the roots of this tree
that wishes to be nothing else but a shadow on ground

“Everything in me seems to be made to hope” – Nayana Nair

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I stand in the shadow
of the great palms
of the red tiles that grow out of its soul
I stand watching the world go cold.

The broad roads of this city made of dust,
the river made out the minds, out of dreams –
this is my home,
till I learn to break away from its spell.

My tongue feels heavy
with the growing names I am supposed to learn,
with all the things I must not be to be loved by them.
I am almost expecting new things.
“this is a good time to run away”, says my ghost-from-the-city-of-sea.

My ghost-from-the-mountains-green laughs
at how desperately I want to be understood, to be seen
and yet how furiously I try to erase everything of myself.

Everything in me seems to be made to be hidden.
I hide my trembling fingers.
I hide my desperation and the mess it leaves in its wake.
I prepare myself for another show.
The show of trying. My trying is so beautiful
in how it is always hoping to be disappointed.

I wait under the neon signs of misspelled words
and think about the storm that will never arrive.
I wait with hope.
I wait with arms fed up of trying.

“As if this all will end” – Nayana Nair

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There seems to be
a shadow of sadness in our every moment.
An another you, an another me
looking at each other through our eyes.
And they seem know something that we don’t.

“prompts” – Nayana Nair

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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.

“Understanding freedom” – Nayana Nair

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He broke my shackles with his blood
and took my hand,
my weightless hand, my almost wings,
and held them in the warm embrace of his own prayer.

As my hands created ripples for my own amusement,
as my hands broke the bread that I would now get to eat,
as I looked at flowers for hours at leisure,
and sang wordless songs without the fear of being heard
-he cried.
It was beautiful and sort of silly – his tears.

He cries at the smallest things
yet is unfazed at the moments that require tears.
Like this farewell, where with a smile
he recites his memorized list of wishes,
he recites the feelings of hope he has for the ones before him.

He looks at me. He looks at us all
and says “you are free. this is now a game without masters.
this is now a world where you are as good,
as deserving of respect
as anyone you stand with or stand against.
you are free. live. live such that
you would need no one to remind you of that.”

As we cried, he told us that
disappearing is what he always meant to do
that wanting his shadow around,
seeking his approval, and following his words
would undo everything he has done in this world.
Yet our tears won’t stop.

We didn’t know if these tears were of desperation,
of relief, of love, of being abandoned,
of being left without directions or heads that could
do the work of seeing and thinking for us,
in return of our submission.
He told us it is sometimes okay not to know.
He said it is okay to hate him
if it helps us to find a way that is our own.

It broke me to hear that because
he spoke as if being okay with being hated for saving
was an essential part of being good.
It was sad that he had to smile when he said it
as if he was not free to cry or complain for something like that.
Or maybe I have not understood freedom yet.