“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.

“Something is wrong with our core” – Nayana Nair

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At my core is a sickness-
something hideous and wanting attention,
always wanting attention,
your attention.

Your attention
is like a net that catches everything of sea
including me, but there is no one there
on that broken boat of your body, to pull you or me
out of these cold waters.

Outside these cold waters
our dreams are running on pavements of romance.
They run on our feets, they smile with our teeth
but then you fold yourself around me
and in a shiverng language remind me
that they don’t have our hearts
and maybe that’s why they have been spared our fate.

“But it also means…” – Nayana Nair

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I guess now I am the cruel one-
the one people fear to love.
This scenario was meant to be sad,
but it isn’t somehow.
(Why do the worst cases taste so bland to me
when finally they arrive?)

I guess it makes me relieved, if not happy,
to feel loneliness more often than feeling distance.
No one knocks at my door,
and I can’t help but smile
knowing it also means no would leave me.
No one would leave me in love, leave me in pieces,
leave me hating myself again.
(Why do my hopes sound like running away
even if I am facing life in every way I can,
the only way I am allowed to,
the only way forward that doesn’t require
sacrificing myself again?)

“If even you came to me like that”- Nayana Nair

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Don’t call your love a help.
Don’t tell me you pity me.

If even Love came to me like this,
how shall I accept your feelings.

What would be left of me
if I could reach you
only because my sadness
made me worthy of light.

I can choose such love of yours
only if choose
to never part with this pain
that I have.

Though I wanted you beside me
you are beside me because I can’t walk,
because I am running into walls when you leave my hand.
And I keep getting new bruises,
fearing how your heart might change
if I learn to smile.

“Every evidence of your existence”- Nayana Nair

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The evidence of your existence –
they sometimes sound like trapped bubbles in ice,
a song no one wants to remembers,
a song that wants to burn itself down
on the steps of justice gone wrong,
wanting to stain the white marble of temples
that do not deserve worship.

They sound like dying ambition amidst flying hopes,
a revolution coming apart,
a future with limping walk and kind careful words,
a future fleshed out with beautiful breaking and selfish hands.

You told me “selfish” is a beautiful word,
told me that in the opening sentence to the goodbye,
that I am supposed to shout after your vanishing back,
to make the word “selfish” the first word,
to speak of that word with a smile.
And let the world wonder why you wanted to burn the world
for what you have never known, what you couldn’t have;
to never explain your heart, to never let their magnifying glass
and their dear sun around your tearful smile.

“More Dearer” – Nayana Nair

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A face looks out of me-
that damned face of love that never gives up.
It writes down histories, and diaries,
and fears of people it wants to heal.
It never speaks aloud the hopes of gentle gaze
it secretly wants out of them.
It wants a lot many things out of them to name a few, I guess.
Just how it wants a bit too much out of me.

It wants me to learn new tricks to entertain, new specs to list out
just in case my heart isn’t enough.
It wants me to stay close, and speak sweeter
and hold people more dearer.
It wants me to walk back to offer smile
to the ones who didn’t want to be held dearer, at least not by me.

It wants them to know how they will always dazzle
even if they fall short of their own expectation,
even if they find a love whose meaning won’t have a place for me.

I hate being the one losing sleep and respect and my ability to
function like a person with one heart
or have even one complete part of me left for myself.

But I love that love hungry being in me.
I love the intense truth it knows about itself.
I love how, when I cannot fall asleep,
it crawls out of me and sits by my side
to tell me about the another stranger who once made me smile
just by existing, even if their existence was not for me,
even when I exist just fine without them.

“Telling Signs” – Nayana Nair

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“Does rust affect plastic dreams?”
I ask my teacher in my sleep.
She takes out an axe and starts cutting down
the first mouth filled with wrong answers.
Two rows away
she wipes her brows and folds her sleeves,
she takes another deep breath
before she checks the attendance sheet
and finds the next dream to kill.

She tells me I should think more and ask more
and ask the questions that help me live.
She looks at the metal that grows out of my pores
and gives me another chance.
She says only if I would try to be better
than the people I am clinging to, I could grow up to be her.
I look away from the blood that flowing down her neck,
the parts of her that she intends to kill by holding other’s breath.

“What about my mother’s arms, weak weak exhausted arms?
Are those my telling signs?
Does that mean I don’t have to worry,
that I am just someone next in line?
What about you? Do you rust like me?
Would the color of my rust, would my weakened heart
make me worth protecting,
make me deserving of kinder words?

She told me “It will not get you respect or equality,
if that’s what you are looking for.
It can sure get you love, of some kind, for some time
but it is just a matter of time
before you see the end that only you can write.
And you would end up writing it
cause that painful end would be more truer and more yours
than any love that you find by compromise.”

As she walks past me, smiling lovingly,
as she spares my life, that now she owns.
As she dissolves my only way back,
I realize too late, that my chaos and my doubts
were more hopeful than an answer like this
that promises pain to everyone else but me.

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

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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.

“Saving only December” – Nayana Nair

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All the spring’s color
have been molten and poured
into the broken casts of summer.
They seep into ground, into autumn leaves
that falls in every space between you and me.
They sing something for us again
as we shiver and stop ourselves from giving in,
as you hold back from saying every word
that can fix me (at least for now).
I google how to kill feelings
that don’t let me eat or speak or smile.
I bite my lips trying to bury the words
that would shine in your colors, if you were to look at me.
If you were to look at me, you would be only sad
to know how unchangeable my heart is.

You tear sheet after sheet, rip them out of calendar
and hand them to me.
We burn 11 months, saving only December, because you never know.
There is a knock on our door, someone who is lost
brings in the chilled wind, the fine dust of snow,
and voices celebrating something we will never understand.
I wait for you to come back and settle into you warm sleep.
I sit at the foot of the sofa, and think about
the one time I dreamt of death.
I was looking out of window waiting for you
and you came back with new pair of eyes that never settled on me,
and when I was almost about to cry
you moved towards me with a dying sparrow in your trembling hands.
It lay on its side with its soft violent gasp for breath
that were perfectly in sync with mine.

“To speak of your love” – Nayana Nair

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The lights die out one by one.
The dark streets come alive,
I crush the melting remains of abandoned snowballs under my feet,
as you sidestep once again
to let the flower stuck in concrete grow a bit more.
I remember how you called such things ” kindness for my own sake”.
It always makes me laugh
when I look back at my own understanding smile,
as if really knew what it actually meant.

Another cold gust of wind touches me
and reaches you few second later
and I recall why I never liked to walked behind you,
why my heart couldn’t bear to see you any more,
why the excuse of love wasn’t enough for me.
It all comes back to me – all my pathetic emotions,
as you fold a bit more into yourself, your shoulders almost disappearing.

Stopping in your tracks, you let out another sigh,
and just when it seems you might give up and decide to break.
You don’t.
You keep on walking as if nothing can phase you out.

So I don’t follow you,
cause your strength has always broken me more than your tears.
Always when you let me have the right to complain and cry,
I looked at you and begged you not to make me another one of those
who can’t live without your sacrifices,
who can only speak of your love
in terms of the wounds you were ready to accept by their hands.

As I see you walk towards a home I won’t ever know,
a part of me imagined – you turning back, looking at me with those
kind eyes of yours, holding my hand.
I am relieved when you didn’t.
I am fine like this, with this manageable sadness that I feel
when you leave me cold in the same world I abandoned you in.