“As time passes, we suffer.
From each other’s sorrow.
You used to pull me up when you were down.
you look me down, when I’m up.
You submerge me into your unhappiness,
And make me believe that,
I’m unhappy too.”
In my head
It was 10:00PM and Nice and Slow was playing on the radio.
I knew the time because slow-jams on 106.1 KMEL begin taking requests. This night was the same as most nights. We all got ready for bed around 9:30PM and retired to our rooms. The noises always begin right when we shut our doors.
Usually, right after I closed my door shut, I turned my boombox on. My parents bought me this boombox for my sixteenth birthday. I knew the voices would get louder, so I always increased the volume so that I would not hear them, and read silently, in my head. Although, my reality would prevent me from reading in silence. This is how I learned to block noises out. Usher was loud on the radio, in the background I could hear the loud noises. After a while, the noises begin to blur as I turned up the volume on the box to block the noises from entering my head.
The blurred voices always triggered memories to a time when I was never blessed with a boombox. But that was a different memory, a different type of trauma.
I thought about love. I wondered why if this was love, why would two people speak to each other this way. The voices always got louder. I was never sure how my siblings would go to sleep. I couldn’t.
I think the loud music frustrated them even more or worried them. I was never really sure. I remember the loud footsteps that got louder as they approached my door telling me to turn the music down while knocking heavily, asking me to open the door. I never opened the door, just turned the music down. One day they learned to unlock my door from the outside.
As soon as they got inside, they would tell me to go to sleep. I was never really sure what their idea of go to sleep was, but I tried, my eyes never closed, because the voices wouldn’t stop. Instead, tears welled up in my open eyes, sometimes feeling the pain of my mama’s frustrations and my papa’s sacrifices. Frustrations about finances and sacrifices of giving up a lifestyle filled with no frustrations about finances.
Back home in Goa, my father liked to have a glass of some type of alcohol with his meals. He enjoyed quality food and drink. He was a family physician and worked hard at it. He gave back to his community by providing free health care to community members who needed it, worked in a terminally ill cancer ashram, and effortlessly provided for his family. Until one day, he gave up his steady career as a physician, and lifestyle of unlimited enjoyment, to move to the United States for the sole purpose of providing his wife and children with unlimited opportunities.
Now they fought about spending a dollar too much on bread or cuts of meat, or why he goes through two bottles of whiskey a month, or that he should make one bottle last longer than two weeks. It was always about something related to money.
The voices became bedtime stories right before I closed my eyes, on nights I could.