“Staying awake, staying alert” – Nayana Nair

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The glass window creaks
under the weight of my head.
I wonder if I should sleep.
Not that it is in my hands. I wish it was .
But then I am afraid
of wishing for anything
that I might not be able to bear-

like her face alive in my dreams,

like seeing myself with a smile
that I can never wear again,

like wanting to smile again
even when I do not want to want such things.

Even when I stay awake, stay alert
to the turning and tossing of my heart
even when I stay glued to the place I had in her heart,
I feel that time is dragging me away
from everything that is painfully comfortable and familiar and lost.

I feel the world trying to rush back into me.
I feel I might lose her too soon, too easily.
I fear there is only so much that my heart can take.
I fear that I will find the peace that I do not want to feel
at the other end of this suffering.

“the shadow at the foot of my bed” – Nayana Nair

today is the birthday of one another oddity of mine.
on a day like this,
few calendars ago
i learnt how to turn my helplessness into my charm.
i learnt to fill the glasses, the throats of everyone i know
with something sweet, with a taste they can’t name.
i learnt to become something that can’t be known or hurt.
in my bedroom i sit at the foot of my bed
trying to block out the presence, the weight
of the other half of my body
clinging, clawing, crying, dissociating.
i again forget where i am.
i again forget how to stop shaking.
if i walk a bit more into the darkness
i feel i won’t have to pretend to be the one
who has a say in what happens to her.
a hand slips into mine.
sometimes it rests on my waist,
and i force myself not to feel nauseated.
love him. love her. i tell myself repeatedly.
love. love. love. love till i can make up for all my lacks.
my love is my penance, my apology
to anyone who chooses me as their destiny.

“What I Remember (18)” – Nayana Nair

today’s sadness is brought upon
by the increasing count of the words
that i have forbidden myself to speak.

today’s sadness is brought upon
by the particularly sad song
that i have chosen to listen.

today’s sadness is partially due to the strangers with sweet eyes,
partially due to my angels with weak hearts,
and also the fact that i must love (and have loved) everything wrong
without causing pain to anyone but myself.

i must write without baring myself.
i must write to never let myself forget what i can’t speak.

do not write this, do not be mean, do not be ungrateful
do not blame, no names, no dates, do not put anyone’s weakness on show

all such favors that i must do
for the sake of my perpetrators and my protectors.

i must act like a better person, even when i am not
in my fingers i am told to hold
everyone’s shame and everyone’s guilt,
and find my freedom in that.

today’s sadness is a breather,
the rare moment i allow myself to see
how messed up all this is,
before i turn off the light
only to stumble through life again.

“All your cold dark songs” – Nayana Nair

as i get inside the crowded bus,
a phone rings.
a ringtone just like yours.

has the world shrunk to the size
of the tragedy we created,
that i find you like this?

i know it is not you,
but it could be.
so i do not turn back.
it could be you,
so i try not to cry.

this is not where
walking away or breaking clean
should lead to.
at least not back to you.
at least not like this.
not on the day i finally felt
that i could move toward a new happiness.

why did you come back?
to tell me how i am not worthy of anything good?
to tell me no one can love something like me?
to tell me how thinking is unhealthy for love like ours?
to check if my skin remembers your anger?
to tell me to speak softly, to submit to your wishes
if i wish to be forgiven for your mistakes?

why did you come back,
when you don’t even want me?

“Is anything left of my mask? ” – Nayana Nair

in not so many words,
but maybe just really few.
can you tell me what you see?
when i am waiting for my turn,
when i am suspiciously silent,
when i am creating another corner
in this round room to sit, to sink into,
when i say no and get hated upon,
when i am walking away, always walking away.

can you tell me
what i look like?
is it obvious in my face,
how i miss what i am giving up?
how i feel removed from this life?
when i smile is it convincing?
or all you feel is pity?
i want to drop this act
if you already see the ruin that grows in me.

“Gray Crowd” – Nayana Nair

There is only this life,
that is made by imitation of stories.
Stories that told me
how to feel
and what to say,
told me to cry and ruin myself
if you turn away,
told me to leave my everything for your sake,
never told me how tedious all this could become
and how much frustrating it would be
to have a love that doesn’t give me back
all that I was guaranteed to get.
What to do if I am no gentle virtuous princess
or even a woman of strong heart and character
but a person not even worth a mention, let alone a heart.
What to do when I am indistinguishable from the gray crowd,
when I am not so special and not so deserving of all that I want.
What to do when my clocks have stopped in that one moment
that I let myself down
and every kind lover is separated from me
by this distance in time.

“Same Strength” – Nayana Nair

The bridges fell one day
leaving me stranded on the other side of the place
that could have been my home.
A home.
I realized only when I was placed out of it.

These bridges that betray me now
have once been the only companion to my lonely feet.
All that kept me alive
have turned against me, and it hurts
only because I remember the days
when I loved them for the same strength
that they now use against me.

“Wrong Way” – Nayana Nair

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They forgot to teach me
the most basic thing-
to know which side I should take
to keep a check on papers, to see sense
when someone tells me what is politically right
and to agree when they tell me that identity is everything
not only mine, but of all those who live on same piece of land as me.
They forgot to tell me to fight and argue
in the name of and for the sake of people
who didn’t care about the fight,
who were fine living the way they did.
I ended up believing
that I could just exist without belonging to any shore
and maybe make my own
and pray that no one joins me
and turn my life into something to live by.

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How could they have overlooked this ,
didn’t they foresee how I would sit awkwardly
midst strangers and have nothing to say
about how the world was run.
Would they consider me silly,
would they think that I am shallow
if I was thinking about the fictional character from a story
and his conflicts?
Would they judge me if the story in question was not about
wars, rivalry or mid-life crisis
but one of romantic ones with cheesy lines
that everyone seems to detest?
They should have told me to memorize lines from papers
and opinion columns
and pass it as my own,
when I was not interested to form opinions
on topics that seemed to be of grave importance to others.
I should know better than to write poems on love and sadness
when people are dying around me.
But I don’t.

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I think I may have been brought up the wrong way
and there is nothing I can do about it now.
But I am not even sure whether
I want to fix the things
that I asked to feel ashamed of.

“Turn the Page” – Nayana Nair

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“So much has been lost”
she said as she turned the page.
I looked at her
and then resumed my efforts of escape
as she did.
I couldn’t ask her what she meant
for this question exists
between us like a distance
that connects us.
I feared that
I could never
recount my losses to myself every night,
if I came to know hers.
I could never pity myself
if I witnessed her breaking.