“Dry Rivers” – Nayana Nair

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The river is finally running dry.
I heard someone rejoicing to hear this.
What is a river without it’s water?
I am told it is money, it is development,
it is more money.

Another colony, dozens of businesses springs up.
There is nothing to be sad anymore.
I walk on the roads trying to trace
the skeleton of what is lost.

Now, I know the names of few more rivers
that are nowhere to be seen on maps.

The numbers of such ghost keep increasing.

There is a language that no one cares for.
There is a city that forces everyone to leave.
There are words that don’t sound fancy anymore.
There is an accent that needs to be exorcised from tongues-
the identity of what we are is a secret,
something we can be killed for.

But it is the season, the world
where rivers dry out beautifully,
where aches turn into anger, into revenge,
into art, into denials,
into search for something new.
But rarely does it turns into tears.

How is it we have so much to lose,
so much that is already lost
and yet have so little to grieve about.

“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.

You stand beside the fire” – Nayana Nair

In the rubble with nerves hiding sparks,
in the nest of sleeping explosives,
again it is you.
Again you are here to prove something
by doing something unasked for.

You build a place for warm tea,
for all our shivering ghosts to haunt.
You place the chairs that are not chairs
but buckets that cannot hold anything now.
There are chairs that are lying around just fine
but you want don’t them.
You don’t want the old purposes eating away
the beauty of all that is left behind.

You console the ones holding onto what is no longer there
but you don’t want the ones who want way back to what it was.
You ask us questions with your bleeding lips
you want us to answer with something real,
not just words.
“You are cruel”,
you laugh when we say that.
You make us leave everything we are
just so that we can finally sit on empty buckets
thinking about the hands we cannot hold,
thinking about hands that are no longer hands.

“The city is no longer burning”, you tell us
as you place our empty glasses in front of our empty eyes
and tell us it is fine if we don’t believe it now.
“Sleep. Dream and stay for a while with the molten and bombed,
the lost and the dead that still have your heart.
Take your time.”

As we lay awake in our heart-wrenching grief,
as we lose ourselves to your favorite world of sleep,
you stand beside the fire
that keeps us alive.
You stand beside the fire
that is not actually fire
but your heart
that burns like sun.

We wanted to tell you, “You are kind.
You are too beautiful for this world.
Have our heart and burn it instead.”
But we couldn’t .
We knew these things were easy only in words,
that these were things we couldn’t do, yet.
That we have not smiled and laughed with bleeding lips,
helping while being hated.
That we were too selfish to be you.

“But more than love” – Nayana Nair

But more than love
I needed to feel that I am human,
that my heart and its pieces
and its tentacles struggling to get a grip on me
are a story everyone’s bored of.

I needed to know that I am fine.
As fine,
as normal
as the person who doesn’t meet my eyes.
That I could look up from the sinking ground.

I needed someone to place me in the sun,
to water me, try hard to keep alive,
to make this
small me
the center of world
for few seconds.
Someone who could grow and bloom beside me,
because of me.

But more than love
I wanted you to be the one
who does that for me.

“Under the Blue” – Nayana Nair

The button of self-destruct was never so glorious,
never so definite, never so absolute
until she uttered “end” and it sounded like “home” to me.

I feared looking at the mark of x on my maps
that she had found with great pains.
The blue under the mark looked so harmless even when it was not.

Only when I saw her tears disappear with along with her
in the waters that no one dares to drink,
did I realize that I also had been drowning all along.

“Deer” – Nayana Nair

In our reflection in the disappearing stream
you look like the golden deer
that I am not supposed to want.
The water angels,
one of which we might end up
eating for dinner tonight,
swims into my face, distorting the light in my eyes,
splitting my lips, my cheeks, my smile into two,
into four, into hundred, into thousand pieces of light.
Till I am forced to admit
that I must stop here.
So I leave, making my last excuse.
I walk away trying to forget
the monstrous face I wear
when I am at the verge of breaking the world for my wants.

“The wind is picking up” – Nayana Nair

The wind is picking up.
The white sand unlike water
sinks everything too slowly.
And so the shade less trees of eucalyptus
become shadows that I learn to love.
They become compass that knows no direction,
but just piece this world to hold,
the silent assurance
that I am not yet lost, though my eyes can’t tell.

***

The wind is picking up.
In the middle of this small storm,
my careful hands writing the date on black board
suddenly realize the need to be held.
And so I fold and create a crease
on another part of my face-
the part that shows my heart too easily.
Someone yells out my name
and unknowingly they moor me to another violence,
another need that I don’t want to carry in me.

“What I Remember (17)” – Nayana Nair

those who spent their lives
wrecking their hands to mould me into something better,
tried fruitlessly
to break me without pain,
to break me and make me into something
that would be accepted by this world.
they showered me with love
so i won’t know, won’t remember
how much it pained me or how much it hurt them
to have gifted me
this painful self-critical view of myself and this world.

while they are growing old, weak and distant
my love for them looks like a failed seed
that never grew nor flowered.
the years that i spent with them
has made me ungrateful.
i have become the fish that never thanked the water
that kept it alive,
thinking that is what water is meant to do.

with time
as a fail to become what i thought i am,
as i realize that doing or even knowing the right thing to do
becomes more impossible as you get to know this world,
i begin to understand the enormous love they must have had for me
to hold my hand and walk with me in a world
that they had never seen
only for my sake,
knowing that their courage and their tears
are destined to be forgotten (or worse- questioned).

and my love?
my love,
it grows in opposite direction of sun,
my love for them grows into the soil my heart
in a world where they won’t see and won’t know.
i will remain cruel and indifferent even in my own eyes.
so i hide my muddled feelings
and walk around those
who have made me what i am
whatever that may be.

“What I Remember (12)” – Nayana Nair

hailstones.
that’s what i remember.
when the stones fell
onto the already breaking roofs of our class,
the girl who sat three rows ahead
stopped reading.
everyone who was busy day dreaming,
who had shut their ears to every useless fact that we come to learn,
knew how to listen to this,
to this violence that could hurt but won’t.

i sat there listening,
wondering if my skin would also be able bear
what this tin sheet roof can,
if my classmates would look at me
understand their violence that could break me but hasn’t yet.

maybe it was our silence,
maybe it was the teachers glare
that made it stop,
made the loud shrieking rain to end.
and when she left
the stones had already turned into dripping water.
the kids wanting to forget
the trauma of being silenced,
of having their dreams interrupted,
of being reminded of their helplessness
recited incidents that didn’t happen,
tried to laugh a little louder than usual,
made another joke at the expense of someone like me
and so my only memory of hailstone
was also reduced to the din of students (who never liked me).

i closed my books and pretended to be asleep
while everyone ate and talked to their friends.
i waited for everyone to leave
so I could eat alone
without being ashamed for being left alone.
“hailstones”.
i said the word aloud in that empty classroom.
i had one more words now
to describe these kids who scared me by their meanness,
who made me like the prospect of loneliness.

“The End of My Sad Story” – Nayana Nair

I want to tell myself
that my sad story had ended,
that now I can write a better one,
where I won’t be suffering again.

But I have known myself more than anyone.
In the waters that choked me,
even when it hurt,
even when I was about to loose myself
the only thing on my mind
my only sadness was for the love I never found.

And there lies my failure,
there lies the source of my misfortune.
That even after everything ends,
after I have cried my last tears,
nothing would change.
I would walk into every new day
and I would only see the broken yesterday.
I would end up in front of doors
that have never opened for me.