“I have learned to gaze lovingly” – Nayana Nair

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The fishes peep at me
through the pink sewer grates,
the filth and dirt and greed of city
eating their eyes,
the loneliness scratching at their fins.

I look at them
as if they are a painting
hung on an illuminated wall –
the last standing wall.
The vapors of dissipated life, dissolved flesh
spread all around it – the waste of everyday life
the waste of silent war.

But it lasts only a moment
my gift of vision, my ability to detach
only lasts so long.
The hunger in my bones, once again,
makes me look away.

I get up and walk.
I move my feet to the beat of the song
being spun in my corrupted mind
I am tempted to increase the volume
to find a pitch that resonates with the air here.
The point where everything bleeds and nothing heals
what will happen to me there,
what will happen to all of us I wonder.

But I have walked these roads before
I now know more than anything
that I only yearn to live.
Slowly, I have learned to protect my ailing tissues.
I have learned to gaze lovingly at my broken mind.
So, I press pause.
I continue to persevere.

“Painting water lilies” – Nayana Nair

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There was a lot of burning that day, I remember.
The black skies still cling
to the corner of my eyes.
But I don’t know fire as intimately as you do.
When I flip through your notebooks,
I only find essays made of water.
The color from my nails seep into the page.
They find the most fragile words,
the true and weak words,
words with a faint crack
similar in the shape
to the one that adorns your heart.
My nails, my cheeks become pale
as all my colors flow out of me,
as if by some urgent need,
to bloom over these words, over you,
to aid you in your hiding,
to shield you silently.

“I think of you” – Nayana Nair

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On this new morning, as this new cold finds my old bones,
I think of you.

Today when your name surfaces on the silent lake
I do not row towards it, I do not push it down.

I stare and breathe as the water moves
you and me.

I stare, without making my knuckles red,
without holding onto you or myself.

The mist of time and the storms of words-not-meant
they rise and settle and we part,

just as we rehearsed,
just as we have performed a thousand times in life.

I look back and see only a sunrise of a color you’d like.
I float a thank you, a broken oar towards you,

a hope for your life and some peace for mine.
All that I have loved has been eaten away by time.

Your body, your mind is now broken
into thousand scattered restless dots of dust

so when I think of you, in my mind
you are the life of the light. So unlike your presence in my life.

You remain that even as I lose my grasp
over the meaning and texture of love.

I forget what we were really like.
So I often get to miss you. You often make me smile.

“Last Kindness” – Nayana Nair

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“You were almost my whole world”, he said,
waiting for me to say something-
an excuse, an apology, a lie that would make him
as important as I seem to be in his words.

His belated words are always beautiful,
his love always drips at the corners of every end
that I try to carve out of us.
Once it was an assurance to know all our ends are fake.

Once I was made of dreams,
once he was made of songs,
and now we are back to being mere flesh
that we can’t accept each other for.

Now we are pretty sure
we can live without dreams that hurt
and that there are other songs, better sounds
that won’t cut us up before we are dead.

Yet he tries to care for the one he no longer wants
as I try to stay silent for his sake, for my sake,
for an end that doesn’t drag on.
Or is it to look pitiful and arrogant in his eyes.
His eyes liked me best when I couldn’t be wavered,
when I seemed something more than just a needy heart.

I wonder why we try to look humans even as we part,
why we must show the faces we have grown to hate ourselves for
and act like lovers in pain, like this is the end of our lives.
When love was the last thing we needed,
seeing it was the only thing we were ever ready to give up on.

“now it is my turn” – Nayana Nair

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her touch – always a procession
of feelings that won’t leave her heart,
of everything she doesn’t have or even want words for.

i hold back her hand and it all quiets down-
the waves, the death, the crashing planes,
and the flying roofs.
the cities in her mind grow silent.
they- the tiny inhabitants, the ugly parasites
in her heart,
they look at me as if i am an enemy,
and yet smile at me, as if i am one of them.

they wait for her to smile at this, which she does.
she tells me she is fine. in the same tone
in which i use to tell her the same lie.
she leans in and touches my cheeks.
now it is my turn to go silent.
now my cities and their helpless monsters wait
to see where she leads this madness to.

“Someday. I believed, someday you would…” – Nayana Nair

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Because I realized I had a bit more time
than what I had estimated,
I put down my newly purchased book
on “beautiful ends that have changed the color of sky
for a few minutes, if not more”.

I called back home
and told the stranger on phone my name,
so they would not mistake me for a hope that has come alive.
That is not how ends should be put in place.

But even then, even after taking such precautions
I couldn’t help but speak like their father who never looked them in eyes,
like their friend who walked away and never stopped, never returned,
like the silence of the night when they told me
I must make up for all the wrongs that still burns their heart.

I just wanted to tell them one true thing about me
one real thing they could hold in their mind, in the place of me.
But I held the phone tightly in my hands
and said the words that matter in this world- every word that is not about me.

For those who are always melting into themselves (unlike me)
that is probably the only right I could do.
Unlike me, who is just a ball of fur, all ‘I’s standing against the wind.
Unlike me, whose aches look like bubblegum and Sunday dress worn wrong.
I don’t like me. I wanted to say those words.
But they are already the first words in every chapter on ends.
They would end up knowing anyway.

I heard them utter a replacement of “love you”
and just nodded along as if they could see me.
They probably could, their love was unreasonable like that,
just like my love.
I ended the call and started at the last sentence I wanted to finish-
“Someday. I believed, someday you would…”
There were so many ways to end that sentence. Choose one ailment.
Choose one person to become and suffer as.
Give them one reason for the life suffering they are to begin.

I saw them sitting on an old sofa, watching the repeat telecast
of shows that make no sense. This time I felt they were waiting for me.
I felt they wanted my chaos. They wanted my hundred storms sitting beside them
to feel safe, to feel at ease.
I felt they would know I have come back for them
and maybe for a second would want to hold me as theirs, as a thanks.

“Someday. I believed, someday you would see me as a human who loved you too much.
I wanted to be much more than that. But the only answer that eases the knots in me
is your face untouched by tears of my name.”

Today it seems there would be no beautiful ends.
Only ugly continuation. Only you and me sitting and waiting
for this show to make sense.

“How do you want to be saved?” – Nayana Nair

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I crawled to the window
in my dress torn by the claws and cries
of people who live in my nightmares.
They like clean living rooms, dark courtyards,
and cars with slashed tires sitting in their garage.
They have
“broken hearts” written down in forms as their identity
and broken chandeliers swept under their bed.
They crouch down and look at me
as the broken lights shine red,
as I see myself bleed beautiful rivers,
as my silent scream become winds, become ripples,
becomes the face that will forever make me cry.
They smile and ask me
“What do you wish? How do you want to be saved?”
while someone else burns the bed that I am crushed under
and asks me “Is this the what the warmth felt like in your mind?”
They drag me out into a forest,
where under the brightest tree of hope,
they stuff darkness into my throat, into my mind
and ask me “Do you still feel empty?”
They are unreal and of unsound mind.
They tell me living in me makes them so.
They wave goodbye to me with a smile,
offering me a sweet candy
for my silence and understanding
It is raining when I open my eyes.
I breathe in the world
where bleeding and burning is irreversible,
where it would lead to an end of some kind.
I crawl to the window
in my torn dress and my exhausted skin
and find myself staring
at people who used live in my nightmares,
people who look more real that the living me.
People who now own more than just my dreams.

“Winter on my cheek” – Nayana Nair

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He lived in the cracks
of the window I could never close.
The sun and the wind, the winter on my cheeks
were all him.
It was a reminder of the mornings
when he held the hands of his softer feelings,
when he silently took the path to brokenness
and named that day after me.
It was the reminder of his kiss
that would make me look away, make me look awkward,
make me do everything almost wrong but with innocence-
everything that made him smile.
I would step on his shadow
and before I apologized, he would step on mine.
He would call it dancing
cause there was no better word for that.
I would smile back forgetting myself

It was a beautiful word.
It was a moment that answered the question
that I never knew how to ask.

“The poem on tides and moons and you” – Nayana Nair

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On a staircase of stars
I sit with a cold drink clenched within my shivering hand
and nod back to the goodbye of another stranger.

I don’t remember him
but I know the lies I might have told him about me,
and the truth that he might have got to know eventually.

“What do you think? What would he remember me for?”, I say,
“But anyway someone knows me,
is this enough to prove that I am present in my life”.

“Is it lonely there?”, someone asks from within me.
I think it is probably you.
And because it is you, I need not answer.

I don’t want to seek you in the skies.
So I sit staring at the world that starts across the street,
where I pretend you are. Where I pretend you will always be now.

I sit outside a palace of brokenness that is not mine.
My sorrows are not so glorious.
It all belongs to a guy who will soon be my friend of some sort.

Unlike me he is happy now,
but he cannot bring to dismatle this grandest part of his life.
He wants a sad lover in front of the corpse of his love. Even if it can’t be him.

In the silence of his beautiful grave,
everyone gathered again and listened to the poem that no longer moves his heart
and we cried in his place.

It was a poem on tides and moons,
on something no one wanted to call love
but something they still couldn’t stop talking about.

It was something like thinking about you.
It was something like being asked “is it lonely there?” by your ghost.
It was like wanting to answer “does it even matter to you?”

It was like wanting to answer “It is a pain you won’t have to ever know.”

“Melting a Rose” – Nayana Nair

In rooms like these
my hollowness becomes real.

It becomes an ant that won’t stop walking
with its tiny feet across the span of my hands,
a felling that won’t rest.

It feels like the rain
that falls and fills everything before me.
Leaving me alone. Alone to think of you.

And I.
again I find in you

a hope?
a reason to run away?

hope

I wrap your moonlight around me.
I melt this rose of tears.

I melt myself and my shields
so that you can see me as I see you.

In rooms like these,
with your hope in me

I can’t help but close my eyes

and dream of finding me in front of you
holding onto my heart

and you finally smiling back.

a reason to run away

I look at my bleeding hopes,
unlike you I have not yet learnt
how to not hurt.

So I bleed silently, fearing
I might be the wrong answer,

fearing the regrets that you might discover
the hurt you might know

due to the imperfections that I collect
and fill myself with.

Every time I dream of you
the rose in my heart melts a little more.

The melting drops burn my eyes.
There is only pain in the place where you used to be.