“Shifting places” – Nayana Nair

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Somewhere far away, in the early hours
a window cracks by the shrieks of a woman.

Let’s wait, let it end, it will be nothing,
it will end up like all the other things made up in my mind.

It will end, it will end –
I chant under my breath.

But it doesn’t end.
Wave after wave, it rushes towards me, to the doors of reality.

And in response something in me cries back, something in me knocks back hard.
Now all I can think is – “I must run. If I run I can reach there.

If I run fast enough there will be little blood lost,
a little mind saved. If I run, I can make it in time before the worse begins.”

But the roads keep disappearing, the houses shift places, everyone laughs a little louder
as I move forward only to be yanked back and pulled down.

There is someone far away waiting for my help
and her flesh is just as weak as mine. Her throat must be sore, her heart must ache.

I wait and cry for an eternity
before I hear everyone walk away. Before I hear hope approaching.

Hope sounds like
wheels of a bicycle and the broken whistle of a kid.

It sounds like “are you alright? aren’t you cold?”
It looks with puzzled eyes at my clothes that are somewhat not right.

It tells me universal facts like
“if you lie there either cold will kill you or a oncoming truck”

Hope tells me I am not dead yet.
I hope she is alive as well.

“Goodbye to all the warm things” – Nayana Nair

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The white curtain, the whistling wind
doesn’t vanish,
no matter how many times
I close my eyes.

The chill under my feet
slowly turns into the ice within my bones.
The hope within my heart
blinds me a bit more.

For every step I take
another cold molecule of my sense of self
breaks away from me.
Every step is an unavoidable mistake.

All warm things are now resting
in the rooms of past-
the melting summer and the stickiness left by
the kiss of ice cream at the corner of my lips,

the one tree that I burnt for three winters,
the big windows, the big dreams
that almost burnt a hole in my heart
as I wrote down hollow words recited by my teachers,

the warmth on my skin
as your eyes fell on me,
that whole minute for which you were
the closest star to earth, my new sun.

But every step is an unavoidable mistake.
Every step is a goodbye.
Every sun that my eyes create, falls
too easily from its branch.

No matter how many times
I close my eyes.
it doesn’t vanish-
this world that now I can no longer love.

The light that will never fall on you
is the light I will never see.
Isn’t it beautiful – this cold
that takes me a bit closer to you, even if like this.

“Line of Sight” – Nayana Nair

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All the windows in this world
are aligned in one line tonight.
One line of sight is enough to hold
all the meaning and everything there was left to see.

All the places I could have gone to,
all the places that I own just by my passing through
they are but one.
The world is just one person,
whose hands are laced through mine.

The world that was so difficult to approach
had found me finally.
Finally I have spoken the words of love
to the one whom I feared I will never reach.
How simple is this happiness
of walking forward, walking towards this smile.
How simple and beautiful is this feeling
now that I have found it.

How sad are the hours that follow,
the hours that push the world out of my view again.
Yet how comforting is this love
that doesn’t leave my side
even when we have run out of the easiest moments.

“The land of disasters” – Nayana Nair

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As my empty cup for tea
came crashing on the floor,
I heard another sigh escape me.
I turned back from the counter
and watched in resignation
as the winds mercilessly pushed through
the cushions, the magazines, the old discarded
phones that made no noise as they came
to find death second time.

The curtains and the window frames
came apart. The sad smiles, barely visible
through the annealed glass, cracked upon
and my ancestors fled away, rejoicing for first time
in the brokenness of this world.
I recalled all the videos I had seen
about the land of disasters and the restless hearts
that live there. I recalled the reasons
that cause such misfortunes, the incomplete
distracted television reports. But I didn’t have to think
of all that, to know what was happening to me.

The sky was clear
and I could hear people walking to festivals and carnivals
and towards to unbearable silence of funerals,
trying to laugh as much as they can before they get there.
I closed my eyes and waited with anxiousness,
waited without hopes
for love to appear again and make a mess of the life
I had spent years to put together.

“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.

“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.

“Half of my Winters” – Nayana Nair

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I wanted to play this winter song
on the brightest day of spring.
Maybe at least in that way
I will be able to mourn for something
that I should have been happy to leave behind.
But the snowflakes in me
drift into the world
and become butterflies of someone else’s heart.
All my songs now belong to sun,
they belong to scent of summer fruits,
they fall as unpredicted rain
on the windows I closed just in time.
Anyway, I had to learn this sooner or later.
How can I keep believing in my own feelings,
on the things that were supposed to never change, never melt
after losing half of my winters to the green winds of change.
As I place all my “old dreams that don’t suit the new me”
away from my reach,
I wonder if the only way to save the dignity of my old sincerity
is to lock it way from my own skeptical, mocking eyes?

“Painting Summer” – Nayana Nair

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As my teacher with broken voice
dictated another question on radius and heights
and the mountains where no snow, no season, no name sticks;
I turned another page and wrote the name of an emperor
who died even though he believed he won’t.
I smiled and tried to correct the very very wrong spelling
of a national political party that my friend wrote. It doesn’t matter she said,
when I couldn’t figure out what was exactly wrong with it.
At lunch, she leaned against the wrong window,
the one with fresh coat of blue paint,
and told me a joke which she memorized
only to remember it wrong.
I again gave her the laugh that meant nothing in particular.
But I knew she loved it when I reacted like this-
as if she is forcing a laughter out of my silent sombre heart,
as if she is wining over me all my resistance.
But I was nothing like that.
I was nothing like she thought me to be.
My heart was already open. She was already inside me-
writing melodies with her soft steps beside me,
painting summer sun over every window I looked out of.
But these are things that need no telling,
there are my treasures I won’t allow her to take back,
these are the answer she will never realize.
I hand in another assignment, another answer sheet
that looks too little like me, that raises the eyebrows of people
who realize they couldn’t teach me a thing right.
I walk back to my seat wondering
if my shirt is tainted red with my love
like her back is filled with butterflies of blue.

“How do you want to be saved?” – Nayana Nair

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I crawled to the window
in my dress torn by the claws and cries
of people who live in my nightmares.
They like clean living rooms, dark courtyards,
and cars with slashed tires sitting in their garage.
They have
“broken hearts” written down in forms as their identity
and broken chandeliers swept under their bed.
They crouch down and look at me
as the broken lights shine red,
as I see myself bleed beautiful rivers,
as my silent scream become winds, become ripples,
becomes the face that will forever make me cry.
They smile and ask me
“What do you wish? How do you want to be saved?”
while someone else burns the bed that I am crushed under
and asks me “Is this the what the warmth felt like in your mind?”
They drag me out into a forest,
where under the brightest tree of hope,
they stuff darkness into my throat, into my mind
and ask me “Do you still feel empty?”
They are unreal and of unsound mind.
They tell me living in me makes them so.
They wave goodbye to me with a smile,
offering me a sweet candy
for my silence and understanding
It is raining when I open my eyes.
I breathe in the world
where bleeding and burning is irreversible,
where it would lead to an end of some kind.
I crawl to the window
in my torn dress and my exhausted skin
and find myself staring
at people who used live in my nightmares,
people who look more real that the living me.
People who now own more than just my dreams.

“Invisible with every word” – Nayana Nair

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The last stranger at the funeral home
brought in the worst rain of the season,
the coldest wind of the night
along with your last letter.
He leaned against the window
and called up everyone he won’t be able to meet today
looking at me all the while.
As if he knew every word that I was reading.
Probably waiting
to see whether I cry at the same lines that he did.
His eyes look like the ones who have got used
to crying for things that cannot be undone,
for a life that cannot be.
I wondered if he loved you. Maybe he did.
Maybe you knew. I hope you did.
He sat beside me
trying not to grieve more than a mother,
trying not mourn like a lover,
making himself invisible with every word
i read under my tearful breath

“…even when I sat at the dinner table with my brightest smile and deepest hunger, i couldn’t convince me that i needed to exist here.
even the warmest embrace of this world could do nothing but break me. i knew opening my heart could only bring floods and all ends of all kind.
i knew all along of this end. forgive me for pretending otherwise….”