“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.

“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.

“I never have to wonder, I never have to break” – Nayana Nair

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In the shade of a fruitless spring-less tree
as I tried to recall and write down
all the phone numbers I once knew by heart,
I looked at the sky
and laughed for thinking too highly
of myself and thinking too little about my heart.
That is the last thing I remember
before I was possessed.

Oddly I always remember this point of contrast
marked by the last tear I actually cried.
Whatever now had made home in me
convinced me
that I could be complete even if I stay as who I am,
that I could stand in this world
witnessing beauty, love, companionship, faith, life
and be happy
even if it could do nothing for me, even if they were not mine.

Someone, who couldn’t possibly have been me,
lived my life in my place from that moment,
and I never had to wonder again
if I am allowed to live like this.
I never picked up another paper I threw in the trash.
I now never tried to play the role of the one with bigger heart.
I was finally free of hope, of love, of being myself.
Now it was the work of whoever wanted this body,
whoever wanted my life.

“It makes no sense now” – Nayana Nair

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I tried many times
to write about you,
to tell the world
why I loved you once
even when it makes no sense now.

Now,
when the days in the sun
seem like a dream, seem like a ruse,
seem like a bait
to everything that just gets worse.
Now,
when all that we once were glad to believe in
and that we were
has caused us to write this end.

This end
where I have my own sky
but end up looking at the fields below
the harvest, the drought, the spring, the festivals
that you live.
This end,
where your day always ends with looking for that bird
who foolishly broke her wings for you,
among the birds who only dream of flying.

“Cursive” – Nayana Nair

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On most days
I desperately want to believe
that everyone else are humans,
just like me.

I write it down in cursive,
under the shadow of my incomprehensible muttering-
“they are not as bad as they seem.
you are not as bad as you think.”

I wrote it again and again
knowing I would never believe it anyway.

But I continued to write these lies
because I still wanted to make an effort.
Because I hated everything I could see, the reality that shouldn’t be,
things that needn’t be this bad,
this life where lies were the happiest part.

“Even when things are right” – Nayana Nair

“The sky is your canvas”,
the book to all ailments said,
“there is a joy in filling it up with life.”
But as I finished my 157th sketch,
as I finished my 300th one,
as I finished the one with no count attached
(the one I called “the limits that were stronger than me”),
as I write over all that I had drawn,
as the clouds dragged themselves painfully
crawling to some better place,
like everything else in my life
the sky remained unchanged.

And when I lost my hands to fate, to slow corrosion,
to the burden of creation,
to the lady in white who couldn’t even lie that “it won’t hurt”,
to the painful work of making up things that I want,
things that would want me back, or at least won’t walk out,
to the hunch that said something is seriously wrong
with the kind of life I have.

I wished for the man in the sky
to wake up and get to work,
to make me some rain,
to drop an ocean of crystal on this world,
to paint a heaven on this cheap sky of this miserable man.

Because trying on some days, on most days now,
feels like living against the wishes of the world.
I can’t help but break a bit, cry a bit
even when things are right,
because they right only because of my efforts.
Can you give me something that I don’t have to work hard for,
something that was made for me,
something that I can keep.
A thing, a person, a sign
that I can hold in my hand
that tells me that you want me to be happy,
that you want me to smile,
that I am not abandoned after all.

“the darkness that she sings for me” – Nayana Nair

i am in love
with the woman who sings and
becomes the background
of my every night.

i like to listen to her voice
as she takes my every second
keeps it out of my reach,
teaches me some really suspicious ways
to keep myself safe from the her demons.

she glows in the darkness that she sews
only for me,
for me to hold her hand the way
she will never be held,
the way i will never be held.

i hate to cry,
i have cried for a long time
for people who called me their option
when i was out of earshot
my tears are cheap, now all they do
is make me feel equally cheap
but the tears i shed for her life are beautiful
the tears i shed for her (who feels like me)
stops me from taking pills i don’t need.

another lover of hers sat opposite me few days ago.
she looked so much like her.
it made me wonder if i looked like her as well.
i wonder she knows her lovers are running amok
in the world that she paints with her pain.
i wonder if she knows that we are catching all her fears,
staying away from guys who speak like her ex,
staying away from the patterns she has pointed out.

i wonder if she knows
that we tell strangers “she sings well, she writes well”
when we want say
“she made me embrace the woman in me
that i have been trying to kill for a long long time.
she stood in my moonlight
counting all the daggers that make her bleed every day,
the same daggers that i fear to acknowledge,
telling me about the exact number of days it takes to collapse again,
about the face, her heart, and her womb that are for anyone’s taking,
about her rage, her mind, and her will that she was allowed to keep.
how she wanted to give up last night.
how giving up can become a concept of life every easily
but she didn’t want that,
because she didn’t want to be
the sad pathetic corpse of the woman
that the world said she would eventually be.”

i am in love with the woman
who wants me to be more than a silent background.

“maintain my world” – Nayana Nair

and this sad premise is not a commentary
on how rotten the world is
but an observation
that we have a pattern that is hard to break.

that people often misinterpret the habit of one thing
as a proof of its superiority over everything else in world.

that words can move your heart,
sometimes for worse.
it can move you towards hatred, towards fear
towards anger that is not your own.

that the wish to be right
makes us forget how to wear someone else’s shoes
or their color or their nationality or their body.
a body that is no longer their own – now that
they are just a sack of blood, a sacrifice
to please our personal gods – our thirst of power
and the “better world” that no one else wants.

this sad premise is not a commentary
on how rotten the world is
for i do not have the courage to write the worst
or to imagine how i am right now walking
over faceless nameless beings to maintain my world
just like you.

“What I Remember (24)” – Nayana Nair

It is time to go out into the world.

It is time that I try hard to get my heart broken
and pretend that it is happening for the first time,

to claim that I trusted blindly
knowing it is not something I am capable of,

to fit my body awkwardly
in the kind of life that people call ‘life’

to find words, to practice the new lingo
that can make something about me relatable,
so that my skin soaked in a tiring tale of sadness
doesn’t make me an alien,

to fill me up again with pictures
of parks, cafes, malls, and roads filled with people
who supposedly like each other,
if not a lot,
then at least enough to not let their ailing self
ruin the perfect moment, the perfect teamwork, the perfect promise.
(Perfection that relies on someone else
doesn’t sit well with me.)

It is time I find something new
that I cannot be or cannot have
before I lock myself up again
for next hundred heart years.

So while I am out to find something to write about and hurt about
miss me my cell,
pray for me.
I am afraid that once I am surrounded by all
that I have learned not to want,
I might start to hope again.
I might slip again.
I might forget to see the distance that I carry in me
and get disappointed by the doors that I can’t reach.

“Fossil” – Nayana Nair

Drop by drop the wax fills
the bucket of broken butterflies.

I am falling into another sleep,
into another death that is warm,
that embraces me like no lover ever has.

I feel the pain in my wings, and unlike other days
I try to think that this will never pass.
That I will remain like this, with a bit of pain always there
in my shoulder blades, under my ribs, aching for a memory that floats
above my body, above my existence.

Someone holds my hand and I let them.
I was always afraid of living and dying alone.
I guess there are many like me.

Years from now they will find us
and probably write stories
about how we loved each other even in death.
As they look at our almost ruined and almost saved faces
they won’t know how we died heartbroken,
how we held onto each other
but never dared to look at each other
or ask the names we had started to hate.
How our skins melted into each other only because
we had nowhere else to be.
That even as light broke free from our eyes
we didn’t want to look like failure.