“Painting water lilies” – Nayana Nair

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There was a lot of burning that day, I remember.
The black skies still cling
to the corner of my eyes.
But I don’t know fire as intimately as you do.
When I flip through your notebooks,
I only find essays made of water.
The color from my nails seep into the page.
They find the most fragile words,
the true and weak words,
words with a faint crack
similar in the shape
to the one that adorns your heart.
My nails, my cheeks become pale
as all my colors flow out of me,
as if by some urgent need,
to bloom over these words, over you,
to aid you in your hiding,
to shield you silently.

“I am far away from giving up” – Nayana Nair

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Some kinds of love are made of flesh,
that can be killed eventually
however long it must take.
Forever does not exist for everyone.
But all that exists only in the kingdom of decay,
all that refuses to leave this flesh
as the knife of time cuts deeper and deeper,
those stubborn ones who only tend
to the roots of hopeless dreams
it was probably them, who thought up this scheme
of wanting a thing like this.
This fragile cloud of “forever” that will rain any day
and yet will rise from our tears and fill our skies again.
I am sad to say I am too weak to stray away from those skies.
I am yet to learn how to sever
the wants of my gods from my flesh.

“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.

“If I Keep Walking” – Nayana Nair

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From wherever it may be,
if I keep walking straight
and try not to think of the destination,
eventually I feel the pavement turn to dust.
Slowly, stones dating to the oldest dates
in the recorded history of my life
start appearing one by one.

They sprout new mouths, they learn new words,
they grow into roads, into pillars,
into gateways, and into the walls of the places
where I am no longer welcome.
The fabric of present, my strange choice of words,
my skin that doesn’t belong to this time
all such things make me an alien, make me a pitiful stranger
in a place I know more than myself.

My laughter lives in those places,
with people who can’t find their way to me,
just like I can’t find my way to them.
I hold onto the walls when my tears start killing me,
I tell myself, it will be fine, if I just keep walking.
I tell myself, I will eventually remember my way out of this moment,
as I always have.

But now I can’t. I don’t want to. Maybe I am not meant to.
Maybe the answer lies in never forgetting,
maybe that’s the love I am meant to have.
Maybe waiting is the answer that will suit my weak heart,
since pretending can only get me this far.

I sit on the benches of deserted parks with my bloodless heart,
and I imagine melting here in this imaginary sun.
I feel happiness might have been something like that,
but I can’t remember it, even though it was once mine.

“Kissing your cold lips” – Nayana Nair

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With his cold shoulder
melting into mine,

with his metal teeth and lips
soldered to the my mortal butter paper skin,

I trade his heavy existence
with my slowing heart.

He becomes a little more human, little more weak.
as I become a little less cold, little less teary eyed.

We both become a little bit of everything –
a mess of feelings and colors sitting out in cold storms

pretending to dig for ancient meaning on each other’s skin,
pretending to be furnaces and burning lighthouses.

“in the light that smiles nonetheless” – Nayana Nair

that’s where my anger lives

on the mud stains of a size 7 shoes
swimming on the white floor of my small apartment.

in the plants uprooted, in the marigolds strewn
and trampled on, in the light that smiles nonetheless.

on the streets where lives my fear – that finds me
and almost kills me, every time i hear footsteps behind me.

on the patronizing attitudes that i dutifully respond with gratefulness.
on the potential dangers, the possibilities of violence that every intimacy invites.
on the things i say yes to with a breaking heart.

in the mirror that only prizes my delicate frame and my weak wrist,
that tells me i would at least beautiful in the missing posters,
in the files housed in grim police stations,
in the videos and photos i would never get to know of (if i am lucky)

in the speeches that tell me i am safe
in the compartments and corners made for me.
soundproof corners where either
i would finally end up believing the facade, the lie of a safe world
or where i would learn how to stay silent to be spared the worst.

that’s where my anger lives

“The Year of Frost Starts” – Nayana Nair

You walk in with a cake of rust,
two hours late.
You kiss me ,
wait for me to smile,
to say thanks,
to make another offering of myself
at your shrine.

You tell me of love,
the only love that you cannot
get out of your heart.
This love that suffocates you these days
more than before.
How my face asks for too much,
even when my voice doesn’t.

I cross out and mess up the frosting
trying to hide the wrong name.
These days I don’t correct you,
or remind you of who I am,
and so you forget me just as I thought you would,
just as you promised you wouldn’t.

My half hidden sighs
tell me that I am just an appointment,
things that have to be done,
feel good pill of a the mean god
that you are.
The clearer I see this
the more I want to speak against you,
to hold you closer with my rage.

I want to speak of
all the facts I have on you-
the bitter candies from the assembly line
that my minds works overtime overnight,
to show you the moments
you hated yourself most
again and again and again.
I am weak like that.
I am mean like that.
And now I don’t want to be better.
I wasn’t like this always
but now this all I can be.

I don’t remember or expect a beautiful love,
now neither should you.

“Portals” – Nayana Nair

the wafer breaks and crumbles
my teeth find a red muscle to kill
again my mouth bleeds
but no iron strikes my taste
so i wait for it
i wait for my imagined pain
to become real

i look at my hands
my unsightly weak hands
they are portals to my past self
how they weighed its emptiness even when they held you
how i knew that you won’t last, we won’t last
and i hated myself for knowing it

i wonder if my skin, my lips
gave you a premonition similar to that
did you know that we would end up sharing every hurt
and that it would never stop
that the we would continue to run even when the dream
ends
every cut mine, every drop of red yours
everything painful – only ours

“To the one who who couldn’t change me” – Nayana Nair

The answers I hear
are never the words you speak.

The answers I hear answers are
poorly dubbed clips of proven cruelties and truth
that only a stranger to my pain could utter,
that only you could utter.

It is the thoughtlessness
with which you try to pronounce hope with ease in front of me,
even when you know the names of all the dead ends and dead smiles
where hope has always led me to.

It is the thoughtlessness with which you try to replace
the glowing shards of sad words from my crown
that I have fallen in love with-
my eternal friends who are as unwanted as me.

My crown and its sharpness are just walls for you
and my claims of love for who I am is just an act.

My dark feelings take up more space
than me or you combined
and yet you like to call me small.

Your light
only gives me new shadows to play with
and yet you call me weak.

The color of my eyes and song in my heart
don’t change for your liking
and my love for you doesn’t change.
Yet you call my passions temporary.

While my answers are the ones
that you cannot accept or even see.

My answers exist in a place where I exist
not in a place where you or me would like to be.

I hold onto your hands as much as I try to let go
-that is my answer
Those are the words that you cannot speak.

“Sitting across another spring” – Nayana Nair

Spring and love
are running around in a circle
in my mind.
My mind and its gray backdrop
die with a soft giggle.
The sky rains a gentle voice
saying my name on repeat.
A voice I pretend not to know
rings like a telephone in my room
as I stare at it from my bed.

Spring and love
are in my life again
and all I can do is wait for the world
to go back to the time of silence,
so I can go back to nursing my weak heart
and find something easy to do than love.