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).

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.

Aftermath

The shutters of our eyes have been opened–
Death unveils mourning friends and neighbours
With waterlogged memories of last year

And the fading light on the faces we forgot–
Some are consoled by a bulging bag of promises
And an awkward ritual handshake at the end–

Nothing is heard when hoarse voices shout
At the same time,staring at the mud and silt:
Your language wears thin like your patience–

Touched by sunlight,the landscape comes alive
But those who have travelled far and wide know:
Our lives become the lies we hide behind.

WhatsApp?

Summer and WhatsApp brought us together:
You forwarded some wise bloke’s well-lit thoughts
And misunderstood my silence as consent
For more quotes,videos,emojis, and what not–
I felt a homelessness the homeless never felt.

You blessed and cursed in many tongues
But I could embrace you only in one–
The howling rain gave us no respite
While my fingers stroked your favourite song to sleep
Beyond the blurred landscape of deceit that night.

How could I have possibly known
You hated slender and shameless adjectives
But adored bruised and battered verbs and nouns:
A bunch of fragrant promises
Flung into the bylanes of forgetten towns–

Arguing with your angry gods,did you
Ever wonder if it was worth the wait
Holding on to hope? You said:
”Love will message us back to life,or be
Another borrowed, dust-blurbed book left unread.”

”96”(The Film)

Everything becomes eternal this night–
The hiss we heard when words were trapped between the teeth
Disappears in the warmth of awakened delight

As we walk through corridors,and someone sings,
Trying to deny ourselves the touch we crave
Or sit in a room,exchanging memories,but not rings–

We know there is a space within the heart
Filled with one face even in the darkest times
Where shadows don’t leave us to ourselves or live apart–

When what was lost,is found,and lost again
We learn that young love never lies or dies
As we get drenched in the midnight rain–

Arrivals and departures map your flight
And the final parting is more painful than the first:
If only we could see beyond our sight…