“In the forest of reality” – Nayana Nair

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Ghost of fireflies
in the forest of reality-
that is me,
that is you,
that is so much of what we don’t want to be.
But if it has to stay beautiful,
if it has to stay clean,
it must be this.

We must meet without meeting.
We must love without loving.
We must walk this path that we believe in
more than we believe in any love.

I close my eyes and tell myself,
“I don’t believe, I won’t believe”
even as the storms of despair
and the clear sky of your existence
are the only thing I know to be true.

You tell me,
“We must breathe the reality
and worship the fleeting.”
So I hold my hands together
again without a prayer on my lips.

I am afraid of prayers.
Unlike you (or maybe just like you)
I am always at the verge of wishing
for some real crumbs of you,
of wanting to stray from the “right”.

“The land of disasters” – Nayana Nair

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As my empty cup for tea
came crashing on the floor,
I heard another sigh escape me.
I turned back from the counter
and watched in resignation
as the winds mercilessly pushed through
the cushions, the magazines, the old discarded
phones that made no noise as they came
to find death second time.

The curtains and the window frames
came apart. The sad smiles, barely visible
through the annealed glass, cracked upon
and my ancestors fled away, rejoicing for first time
in the brokenness of this world.
I recalled all the videos I had seen
about the land of disasters and the restless hearts
that live there. I recalled the reasons
that cause such misfortunes, the incomplete
distracted television reports. But I didn’t have to think
of all that, to know what was happening to me.

The sky was clear
and I could hear people walking to festivals and carnivals
and towards to unbearable silence of funerals,
trying to laugh as much as they can before they get there.
I closed my eyes and waited with anxiousness,
waited without hopes
for love to appear again and make a mess of the life
I had spent years to put together.

“The ocean is so huge and weird” – Nayana Nair

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I drew her shadow on sand.

She stood still, her tiny shoulders
and ribs (that thankfully can no longer be seen)
moved gently with each breath.
Each tiny breath
like the wave that swept in,
like her laughter used to be.
She looks at me and asks if it is done.
I nod. I meant to say “almost”.
Just like I had meant to say “stop”,
or “please don’t” or “take me and spare her”.
She doesn’t wait for my answers anymore.
She skips over the boundaries of our shadows.

Her outline of me drawn in shaky fingers,
looks like a human being pulled apart
beside her own shadow – a child, complete and perfect.
But she looks at her shadow and calls it weird,
just like how she called the ocean weird.

For her
the smiling children in the glossy magazine were weird,
a chocolate bar without an occasion. without a reason were weird,
the memories of home she wanted to forget were weird,
the days she walked to school with her friend
and the days the sun went down as she slept over the
struggles of homework were weird.
She sat down and tried to come up with an answer for my “why”.

“the ocean is so huge.
as huge as, all the things i can’t have
but once i had them. it is weird.

it is weird how this ocean is mine now,
the breeze is mine along with the sky
but i don’t want them.

you have memorized my shadow.
you keep bringing me back to life
but you tear up so easily as if even you don’t believe yourself.
as if you don’t believe in me .

sometimes i feel that this ocean is our gift to each other,
it is our heart free of our bodies.
sometimes i believe that i am here and you are here
and the world where my head can rest in your lap
still exists.”

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

.

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.

“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.

“The Light of White Tulips” – Nayana Nair

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From the lowest branch
of the falling tree
I looked up
and heard someone laugh.

I have been reborn thousand times after that
but still
as I walk on the charcoal roads
lined with white tulips
that never light up,
as my foot slips
I hear that laugh again.

I hear it
when I cook food
and end up staring a bit too long at the flame,
when the smoke that kills, coats everything
that fills my stomach.

It is stuck in my heart, the violence of the end.
The bluest sky, the sweetest wind,
the flying songs, and my muffled cries-
crystallized as one.
One tiny map, that tells no directions,
forever stuck in the corner of my eye.

It plays like a record, plays hide and seek.
It is a play that ends
with the stories breaking into me.

“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.

“It makes no sense now” – Nayana Nair

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I tried many times
to write about you,
to tell the world
why I loved you once
even when it makes no sense now.

Now,
when the days in the sun
seem like a dream, seem like a ruse,
seem like a bait
to everything that just gets worse.
Now,
when all that we once were glad to believe in
and that we were
has caused us to write this end.

This end
where I have my own sky
but end up looking at the fields below
the harvest, the drought, the spring, the festivals
that you live.
This end,
where your day always ends with looking for that bird
who foolishly broke her wings for you,
among the birds who only dream of flying.

“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.”

“Photographs of Unmade Bed” – Nayana Nair

#1
Today I am fixated on the the houses far ahead, the colors on those countless walls that are yet to be carried away by the winds. Today I am fixated on the wrong choice of shoes, the red sore blooming on the fingers of my feet. Today I am filling my eyes with all that I refuse to see otherwise. I like days like these. They give me the proof of life outside of me, proof that I am part of this world. Days like these let me know that even if there is nowhere I particularly have to go, my feet are sore from walking and the roads are bit weathered. So it must mean something. Slowly I am changing the world, just as the world is changing me. So it must mean something. These are the days I realize that I do not just look at the world, but kiss the world while hating it in my heart. That world doesn’t just disown me, but it keeps looking at my childhood photographs when no one is looking. It all must mean something.

#2
My bed sinks a bit more everyday. It feels as if every day I am carrying, dragging another new person into my uncomfortable sleep, to my messy life. There is no blood, or signs of resistance, so it must a deal of mutual benefit. I hope so. I wake with only my skin, with only my dry eyes. So again it must have been someone I mistook as you. Someone who knows how to keep their end of promise, someone who doesn’t look back at the weight they are leaving behind in my new scented sheets. With you there was warmth and suffocation and never-ending want to be something more. With you there were eyes that stared at me as if I am a road you are forced to walk on. With you there were things I couldn’t be and shouldn’t be. Without you, there is me and my imagination that draws you body full of life on the photographs taken of unmade med and undecided mind. What do I want really?

#3
The one love? The truest kind? The rarest kind? The kind that is made of eternities? The kind that is hellbent on making that big change? I sort of had that. “I had that love” would be my answer, only when I am asked to keep my answer short, which I am often asked.
In the answers of 500-1000 word limit, in the answer where 10 marks are at stake, in the answers only you would have asked – I wanted my only love to be true somehow, no matter what it took. Do you know what that means? It means there are hazy days, holding lies close to heart, illusion that I fed with my own blood that make appearance in this answer. The answer involves knowing everything that is wrong, knowing everything that shouldn’t be, knowing the end that I won’t have. The answer involves cutting short my words, even when there is no need to, even when you are here and you are listening. The answer is pretend that was true, the tears that I didn’t hate as much as I should, the person I liked a bit more than I should have. Always wondering if love would feel like love if it was not me and you standing on both of its end.

#4
There is soaring in the skies. There is running away to the ends of earth. There are, of course, moons, and sun, and stars for taking. There is a wish list for every age we failed to love properly. There are your past loves, there are my past pains to talk about till late night. There are things to eat and relish and complain and things we will never make the way we should, things we will throw away even though they turned out well. There are stories we will make up because we can, because they are fun. There are stories that will tell thousand times even though we won’t be believed. There are night we see only each other, there are nights we realize the pain of not being loved. There are permutations and combinations that I was always poor calculating, that you were never interested in. There is a day like this where we have nothing in our pockets to count on, no possibility, no scenario that could bring us and place us together in this life. This is the only day that I didn’t want to arrive at.

#5
You are only as dangerous as much as I let you be. If I let you be a mistake, you are just a humiliating past to be erased. If I let you be the friend that should have remained a friend, you are just a human among thousand others, a human I dealt with with immature idea of carpe diem, with a stupidity I once called honesty. If I let you be the reason of my happiness, you become the reason I should never smile again. If I let you be the incarnation of all that destroys, you become the plague in my heart that will not end till I die, till I give myself up. The more I let you be within the scope of my life, the more I regret letting you in. I never try to think of you as someone I associated the word love with. That word lets you become my breaking heart, my lungs devoid anything capable of giving life, my mind slowing down and stuck at the worst part of my life.
So when I think of you, I think of you as the result of taking the idea of selflessness, of selfishness, of wanting to be part of this world, of taking “it all must mean something” a bit too far.
Because irrespective of what you might have been for me. Now you are only as dangerous, as important as I let you be.