“nothing more, nothing else.” – Nayana Nair

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the last time i was young,
i was as young as the numbers i colored
on his last birthday card.
i remember the burning of birds
that followed our song of hope.

since then nothing was the same.
the innocent and the sweet
were the monsters that we killed
in the forests that grew in our house.
we killed a lot. we killed plenty.

hours swelled into years into decades
at every tear i tried to hide.
everything i tried to hide
grew as me, grew into me.

he grew into half a monster of kindness.
he devolved into an angel wielding my fear with smile.
it was the truest of love, without any doubt.
it was the only love of the world. the only one i would ever have.
knowing that helped. it helped me wish for nothing more, nothing else.

i grew my claws into the gentlest shapes.
i grew every contradiction in subtle ways.
i grew them nonetheless. that is how i hid.
in the light of his skin, my eyes learnt to love darkness
and yet when the day came, he asked me
to become someone from his memory,
someone untouched from the poison of our world.

he would pester me like a child
to show once again the trick of undoing,
to show the skin i hid from his fear,
to show the heart that he cannot accept.

“gentle things always begged for my fury”
he had said that once.
i remember the threat that lurked under his voice,
in that moment. in that moment,
i remember curling into myself in time,
before he learnt i was all that he couldn’t stand.
i remember choosing him foolishly.
i remember the violence of being chosen.

“what has changed”
i ask in my newest disinterested voice
and he smiled as if he was really not here.
his eyes looked at me as if i was already long gone,
as if he knew my every truth.
he reached out his hand and instead of new blood
i felt his new breaking.

“for a minute i am tempted to believe in this world”
he said in the voice we used to sing all our songs in.
and because i knew better. because i knew fear.
because i couldn’t lose my hidden flesh of hope
to entertain his momentary half-hearted wish to reform
i replied “there is nothing to believe.
there is only blood and flesh and lifeless spoils of war in me.
do you want to be free of me now?
why are asking for things i can never be, never give?”

i feigned hurt and looked at him
till he had to look away and laugh.
his laugh was filled, was welling
with something unfamiliar.
he looked in every direction but mine
as if letting me breathe in the relief of not being found
and the breathe out the disappointment of losing something unreachable again.
but i didn’t dare to breathe.

“The best way to disappear” – Nayana Nair

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My emptiness is finally put to use.
The fishes swim in me –
the luminous disfigured creatures of depth
and the beautiful dying ones of light,
fill me up one by one.

I teach them songs of sorrow.
I hold them in my endless embrace
singing them back to life
and in return they let me feel like someone
who can protect, love, and shield.
They let me feel things no human ever could.

Even though I hate to be seen
I smile as my body is put on display.
My skin, the strongest glass.
My skin, the weakest beams.
The shallowest of oceans I become.

Humans hold hands, hold themselves
as they stand before me.
They find possibilities, mysteries, awe
in all that I hold inside,
in all that isn’t me.

“i will come to see you again” – Nayana Nair

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and when i come to meet you
there are oranges buried in snow
and grenades in fruit bowls.
there is your smile that is locked
in a room filled with flammables
your new bedroom- you tell me as you turn away.
i take steps towards this ruined shrine
and a ghost, wearing all the dead roses of our world,
holds a spear of your name against my chest.
i step back and follow your cold body
again through the corridors buried in rain.
you stop suddenly and say something
but miss it as i rush into you,
through you,
through the fragile wall and doors
of another breaking dream
and i am here again, alive and distraught
under this comfortless ceiling of reality.

“A pointless rebellion” – Nayana Nair

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I dreamt today
of being in love.

Even when I woke,
I toyed with that idea.

This thought
that there can be something
that can touch my heart
after you

seemed so ridiculous
that I knew I would be smiling
for the whole day.

That even if I won’t take your name,
just as I had promised myself,
you image would still swim on my lips.

To everyone, to even myself,
who claimed that forgetting is so so easy
this seems like a such a pointless rebellion –
this smile,
that won’t die.

My life runs from one day to other
holding the hand of your thoughts.
Such a let down this is-
to bury you and see this tree grow

that keeps singing your name, your meaning
in languages I haven’t learnt
and I sing along not knowing
that I am learning you again from scratch.
I am loving you again.

“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

“Listen and Obey and Lie and Pretend” – Nayana Nair

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Old dreams,
the old warm sweaters of dreams-
today is the day for burning them.
Someone hands me a matchstick,
hands me the common sense
of creating necessary ends.
And like the more faithful student I am
I listen and obey
and pour the flame on the fishes that are still caught
in the net of my dreams.
I pour the flame on the neck, on the wings
of the deity that sleeps in me.
And like the betrayer that I am
I clap and smile with ones who hold my hand,
the ones I must pacify, the ones I must give in to.
But I breathe in again the seeds of wishful thinking.
The air is filled with them-
with the tiny rebellions, with the stolen chances,
with all that isn’t but threatens everything that is.
The air is filled with hope, with freedom,
with everything beautiful and dangerous.
I smile knowing the demons I have set free.

“These Roles” – Nayana Nair

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You smile
as you place the plates on table,
as you serve meals made of fire
in front of my body growing cold.

You smile
as you drag your feet
from the threshold of the door,
as you run towards the world,
as you swim back towards me.
Knowing, always knowing
that I also feel the weight of this water on us.
So you smile a bit more
and always rush to me to as if you are the lost child
when you also know the muddled one is only me.

I feel your doubts soften in my embrace
thinking of all that i have been and all that I ever could be,
all that you will ever love and never need.
And in my turn, I summon a smile thinking of what you are,
of the gentleness of your soul, of this genuine heart.
And just like our hands that are never still
trying to mimic and catch up to the heart of the other,
we are forever melting between these roles.
And because it is so,
because even this small me can save you with a smile.
I can love you even when you get wounded in my hold.
I can love you even with a guilty heart.

“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.

“For every map you push into my hands” – Nayana Nair

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Can we really trust this map?
I don’t.
And I won’t
till you give me
the story of those who made it
or even of those who followed it
blindly, knowingly,
as they sang of their love under their breath,
as they shouted their own name in blizzards,
and found their past stubbornly standing
waiting for the impossible
at the shores that were made to crumble.

Tell me how small fishes nibbled at their tears
as they looked back at the shore, at themselves
they will never return to.
Tell me what happened of them.
Tell me about where they stopped,
where they left their breath lingering.
Print me a book of 300 pages, devoid of observable facts,
for every map you push into my hands.
Give me a glimpse of the heart
of the one whose words I must trust.

And once I see, I swear I won’t hold back.
Even if all I see are tears
I will take only steps forward.
Even if all I hear are dissolving laughter
I would chase their ghosts, I will call out to them.
I will lose myself, lose my voice
in chasing their fates.
I don’t know what’s the point of this
Maybe I just want to wander, maybe I just want to hurt
and smile for someone else
without a hope of getting something similar back.
To see, without being seen.
But I know I can only walk for this.
I can only walk like this.

“What I want to say, what I want to ask is something else” – Nayana Nair

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Today I am glowing with your gentleness –
the miracle that I thought was lost for good.
Today all the songs are about
the open sky of your heart,
about the wind that blew through me to you,
through the rooms of your childhood,
through the ghosts in my eyes which you could see too,
through your ruffling shirt made of bluest words
enveloping me, making a new sun for me
with the easy way you leaned in,
with the kiss that reached me,
even in all my hiding places.
So sad no lips were involved, yet so beautiful
that I can remember it without
the memory and weight of flesh.
It pains me somedays, somedays makes me regret
all the things that vanished, all the good things
that almost happened, but didn’t.
But mostly it makes me proud
that I used up all my beautiful dreams on you.
Your smile, that I have never seen
but only felt in words,
was the most beautiful smile of this world.
You were more dear to me
than most of the world that I got to keep.
How sad
that I never got to tell you this.