Author Archives: VijayNair

About VijayNair

I retired as Associate Professor, Department of English, Government Victoria College Palakkad, Kerala. I taught English Language and Literature in various colleges for 31 years. My Ph.D. thesis was on the plays of Wole Soyinka. My collections of verse include "The City and the Hermitage" (1988), "Doors Swing Open" (2008), "Eyes" (2010) and "Whispers of Light in Darkness" (2013). My poems have also appeared in the International Anthologies "I am a Poet" (2013), "With Love" (2013), "Synthesis" (2014) "Poetic Symphonies" (2015) and "Heavenly Hymns" (2015).

Words and Sentences

You were the stranger who came to see
The indifference of their words to our sentences:
You said:Forgiveness is a forgotten word–

But apt words appeared as in a crossword
And though you were masked,your eyes smiled
Like a prisoner’s that had captured a flight of birds–

Observe,you said,the folded palms of those who seek
And the raised arm of those who hate.Observe,you said,
The impatience of the drooling mob–

Reflections don’t always make us wise
Refraction does
And the silent stare that does not flinch–

You said that to find your voice you have to listen:
Some feel the need to kneel in prayer or protest
And some kneel to kill.

A Lyric

We don’t have the skill to touch the sky
We won’t bear gifts to betray friend or foe
But what we have grows after every last goodbye–

Our hands are even now raised so high
Even though we fought and surrendered long ago
Under a cloud of doubt,in the public eye,

To each other,and for an alibi:
In the setting sun,your smile’s glow
Brings the light back into my life, and I wonder why

The wind remains bemused,as time goes by,
Not knowing which way to blow–
And then at midnight we hear the sudden cry

Unnerving as breaking glass and difficult to identify–
You roll your eyes as if you know:
Who waits in silence,waits to die.

Pause

Sometimes,when we fought,we
Felt like two wayward kites
Entangled in the branches of the same tree–

But each parting saw a part of me
And a part of you
Walking away from us,towards their destiny–

We have ceased, with some sense,
Exchanging excuses,sitting by this stream
Fishing,but not for compliments–

Listening to old love songs before we sleep
Murdered by remixes:
Our Muses shut their ears and weep–

Your fingers trace the highways to immortal
Monuments we have never even seen in dreams:
After all,as you say,” Tomorrow is another normal.”

Clinical Observations

Words practise social distancing with words
Leaving us tongue-tied: the numbers rise

In Italy and Spain,like the bloated figures
Of a petrol pump’s tampered meter–

And good doctors have to decide
Like the dreaded Angel of Death

Who has a better chance to live
Or who is to die–

Unmasked ,finally,we wear fresh masks
And wash our hands more vigorously

Than the Fourth Witch or the Fifth Governor:
In isolation,let us sanitise our senses

And redraw the route map of our lives–
Face to face with an enemy we cannot see

Or hear,but who is there,waiting for us to step out,
And to step in along with us.

Idioms

We were too young to see the signs,
The woods for the trees
Or to read between the lines–

Often,we spoke like strangers,being nice,
Filled with hot air,and laughing at
Each other’s silly jokes to break the ice–

Sometimes, it’s true we were all at sea,and you
Thought I was a bird of passage
Biting off more than I could chew–

We were on tenterhooks,nights without rest,
Until your angry father,to give the devil his due,
Blessed us with prayers and wealth before he went west–

But we didn’t put all our eggs in one basket:
Through thick and thin
We always had a couple for breakfast–

Frequently,I blew hot and cold,and you felt,on some days,
Like running your head against a wall.
Your dear mother said:”His heart is in the right place.”

Waiting-2,3,4.

Gasping for breath in New Delhi,you try to laugh
At your sneeze trapped in a snapshot
In someone else’s gilded wedding album:

The couple grinning from ear to ear,as if they had
Won the lottery by mistake
Are now emotionally detached,in different cities,

Leading interesting lives with invisible lovers,
Their children inhaling the fresh air of Ooty–
We keep running into each other,uninsured,

At strange places like this monument to the unknown garbage:
Are we waiting for our favourite God to wake up
Or worse,for the final,expensive, diagnosis?

Your smile smooths out the wrinkles from my face,
What you see is a part of you in me:
I wait for words while the wind holds its breath.

At the Crossroads

Like travellers at the crossroads lost in thought,
We felt the threat of losing touch with ourselves
While unkept promises hurried to catch up – –

Memories crawled out of the woodwork:
Their snapshots blood-stained and twisted out of shape
Begging for forgiveness for the day truth blinked – –

We listened to the feet of those who ran away
And squinting at the faded writing on the wall
Wondered at the kindness of half-torn fluttering flags – –

Hope has deserted this countryside
And the branches of these trees bear no birds:
A string of questions could hang you at the end – –

You return to the city of skyscrapers
And I, to a cow-dung-splattered dawn,
The taste of your skin fresh upon my tongue.

The Last Flight

You were always in exile from yourself
In a city that slipped into amnesia
Whenever it wanted to–

You tore down barricades and waved black flags,
Your love concealed in outbursts until you found
Mislaid documents in the dusty archives

Of someone else’s darkened mind–
Ah,we both knew then that such moments
Do not pose to be garlanded and shot

By a breaking news television crew
And that worried witnesses at the office,
Praying to be absolved of this offence,

While we raced to catch the last flight that night,
Disappeared from sight even before
We could mouth a breathless hello.

You May Wonder

You may wonder why
Friendly folk with forked tongues
Try to foil uncommon common sense

And make us often feel as if our fate
Was written on someone else’s
Broad forehead by mistake–

You may wonder how
We daily glide through a downpour of lies
With the confidence of those

Who fly without borrowed wings
To a place that makes us pause
Before the walls close in–

And wonder and reflect on those
Who betrayed their flag and desert friends,
Those who lynched the bewildered innocent

And those who simply could not see
A smiling pretty woman
With faith in one hand

And potassium cyanide in the other
Feed her relatives,one by one,
Their last supper.

Nights and Days

You speak,my love,through furrowed thoughts and I
Hear barbed prayers on a crowded beach:
Wide-eyed at twilight,your searchlight gaze

Brushes aside an edgy fate and falls
Upon a homing bird’s discordant cries–
Moments pass like shadows across your face:

In love brewed through time between old friends
Forgiveness is not a drunken forgotten word
Awake but still asleep on faithless nights and days.