“a piece of writing…that should have been me, but is not” – Nayana Nair

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I look out of windows of places that I want to escape
and only after 24 hours, only after 12 years
in a poem about crows, in an essay about public school,
in a story, in a ruin not mine
do I find the space to figure out, to sketch
what I would have thought of, if I allowed myself to think.
If I allowed myself to feel, what I would have loved,
what I would have gladly run away from.
The lives that I couldn’t start, the roles I couldn’t end
they leave my skin and become the masks they always were.
I carefully place these masks
on the words that have nothing to do with me
My words
they only hold the mould
that were too painful for me to confirm to or accept.

“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.

“They go through my closet trying to find me and maybe themselves” – Nayana Nair

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He stepped down from his ‘cloud nine of the day’
as I stepped out from my house made of last drops of rain
and at the intersection of fleeting memories
we fell in love.
That is what I tell my friends
when they ask me about the moment
I was tempted to end the sadness of my life.

I tell them about the words I borrowed from his lips,
his borrowed tongue that helped me eat a bit more.
How I taped his adjectives on my mirror
so that I wouldn’t have to look at myself.

They sit with me on the table
I can’t bear to share with my love.
They stare at me, as I ask them what to wear,
how to hide my poison, how to hide the crack at the elbow,
the bruised collarbone, the split lip,
the ache in my heels, my frayed wings,
my broken voice
and all other reminders of what love has done to me,
and what more love can do, if i just let it in again.

They tell me it is all healed.
They tell me it is all past.
They hold their skin against mine to make me see
that the cracks are all in my mind,
how everyone looks just like me,
how everything wrong with me is now the norm.
And they laughed
when I looked at them with concern.

They dropped me at the restaurant
and vanished at the farthest bend of the road.
As I dragged my feet towards another story
that I will never get to complete,
another tragedy that suited only me,
I looked back and tried to think of all the things
that these kind friends of mine suffered
as they hoped and wished and lied to themselves.
The exceptions they now considered normal,
the wounds they cannot even see,
the pain they cannot call pain,
the love they cannot bear to leave-
I tasted these facts
in every spoon of artificial sweetness
I fed to my mouth that evening.

“Pamphlets” – Nayana Nair

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In the age of breaking,
all my classmates
swarmed to the dead pools in summer.
They ironed their skin with the heat I couldn’t bear.
With a smudged color on their lips,
their never resting pupils,
the pamphlets of their anxious laughter
that they passed to each other,
the crumpled remains they walked upon
they looked like imitations of greek statues
and love stories gone wrong.
They looked like people who joke about drowning and dying
and the love that killed them in their sleep.
“They are too young to know about love and pain”
someone said on TV,
even as we built an ugliest everlasting fire
out of the promises the world couldn’t keep.

“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.

“That poem doesn’t exist in this world” – Nayana Nair

Outside my body, outside myself
I feel
I can be the the girl
who walks to a stranger, smiles and asks his name,
who keeps her name in her mouth,
and doesn’t throw it away
along with the chewing gum in the nearest trash can.

Would she hold his hand?
I think she would.
But even then
would she be reminded of the the poem she wrote in seventh grade
the ugliness of people dripping from their hands
at nights, holding my breath,
crushing my 27 teeth under an unwanted kiss,
promising to kill me next time
“.
Probably not.
That poem doesn’t exist in this world,
let’s keep reminding ourselves that.

So yes, she holds this stranger
a bit more closer than she would have deemed wise
if she saw it how I would
and she would make promises- the kind lovers makes
before they know what love is.
He will ask about her life
and she will have no sad story to tell.
So she would talk about the recent window shopping-
the things she can’t have and things she can’t get
and she will not be talking in metaphors for once.

For once the one she wants to love
wouldn’t be obsessed with the wounds on her skin
to love, to treasure, to poke, to mock, to dig down further,
to own and to burn.
He will probably say something sweet about her smile
or maybe something boring about his work
and she would smile a bit more in either case.
Because she can smile here, in this world, in front of him,
without having to think about what his each word might hide,
what she is over-looking, what will be the tiny details
that will come back to hurt her, what will be the undoing of her heart.
She will smile cause she won’t have learned to be hate people beforehand,
she wouldn’t have learned to love a bit too late.

She would tell him that he is lovely,
and the blush in his cheeks will make her heart skip
and she would love him for loving him
and not because she is looking for an easy fix to her faltering mind.

“Always Shining” – Nayana Nair

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Are they finally drowning?
The sails, the flags, the songs
the party, and the expensive backless silks.
The rings and guns and blood shining.
Always shining.
They are finally coming for us.
We will again have someone’s face in front of us
at least for a while
and we will sing songs
that they have no choice but to listen to.
The cries and shrieks and the stories
that we had saved in us will not go waste.

They have not yet seen us
rotting
feets and feets below them
but somethings take time.
The water will fill them
but they will never grasp
the slow violence and its finality.
They will look above at the lost sky,
they will not know what they are looking for
as the concepts of hope and god and saving
becomes grayer in their head.
They will keep struggling
feeling all promises becoming breathless in them
and they will miss the point of saying goodbye.
We always do.

Darling, they are coming
our children, our neighbors, our dear strangers,
our ministers, our wood, our sky, our eyes,
our new memories.
Now we can die together and actually die
and not be haunting blue in this green ocean.
I missed living dear
but I missed them more –
everyone, everything taken away from us.
We have waited patiently, wishing them life.
We have prayed for them to stay away from wherever we are.
But now they are coming
and I cannot help but selfishly smile
at seeing everything coming back to us.

“The door opens slowly” – Nayana Nair

I turned another corner
and walked into another house
that I knew nothing about.
The owner, the god of this land stood there
outside in the garden
telling a child how to create more beautiful loops,
how to somersault,
how to find more worms, more of everything.
An adult placed like a talisman
that couldn’t keep me
or what I bring with me away.
He didn’t even notice the grave that I carried in me,
the open pits in ground awaiting more bodies.

I walked to the front door and rang the bell
thinking, wondering what must I not be seeing
in the person I see as a fool.
I wonder if the graves in him didn’t love him back as well.
The door opens slowly and I wait.
I let my willingness to wait announce to her that it is me.
She makes me a wait a bit more-
that is the nature of game we are caught in.

Seconds and hours I spend on her couch,
waiting for the commotion outside to end,
for “the happy family on a sunday morning” to end.
She has four brother
and an almost sister that they never talk about.
She reminds me this a few more times
so that on the mental map of belonging and similarities
I find this unnamed sister closer to my role.

They rush in like a flood, like a rain gone wrong-
all these bodies that I am not supposed to see.
“They are perfect”, I thought to myself.
I thought of my mother, the anger in my home,
the counting of countless miseries,
the coarse harsh words that filled my eyes, then filled my mouth,
the gentle sunsets that drown only dreams.
“They are perfect”, I think, “for someone living in the same world as me”.

She tells them about my scholarships, about my fragile upbringing,
about the art that runs in me.
She tells them all about the things that they like.
For today she has made them into me.
I smile and say a little too less.
I smile as if I mean no harm.

But I know
I am here.
I am here and there is no escape
from the fact that eventually
I will sit in this room with my love
and with a glitter pen running out of ink.
I will draw, deepen the cracks that I already see.

Such is my nature.
Such are the songs that I live on repeat.

“Wedding Photos” – Nayana Nair

It was like magic
running the highlighter, the bright crayon
over the sepia hands of her.
She didn’t complain or cry
as we ruined another photograph of hers,
as we tried to hide the evidence
of her failed love, our failing life.

We cut her out, moved her away
from the one who looked like us.
We placed her side of story, her half of heart
in the albums.
Albums that felt lighter
now that the responsibility
to remember only the good, its difficulty
was no longer our business.

We shredded few faces of his,
few others we drowned in ink.
His face was the reason we couldn’t look at ourselves,
the reasons of all the hurting words
we learned so fast.

After we ruined everything for good
we stared at each other,
and saw the tears we should’t be having in us.
This wasn’t how magic is supposed to feel.
Why?
Why was there no thrill, no relief in what we had done?
Isn’t it our turn to be free from the one who left?

“I want you to see the world” – Nayana Nair

i will read you another story
so that you may know
that faults and lacks of humans are common and in abundance,
how ordinary are expectations-not-met.

i will read till my eyes close
till you can see all there is to see,
till you see everyone around you
who are disappearing into silence,

till you see all the kind words you could have said to them,
till you see that these words, that make you cringe,
how important they are
how easy they are to say, how difficult to mean

till you learn to mean these words that save lives,
till you learn to listen to others,
till you grow the eyes
that can see the world before it is lost.

though there is another story for another day
about how to save yourself from all that you have saved.