At some indeterminate time during my early teenage years I found a cassette tape that my mother had recorded. It was an audio letter she had started to make for her parents in England during a time when we lived in India. I found it as I was searching for cassettes to record music on, LPs I had borrowed from friends. It was unlabeled and I thought I hit the jackpot but just-to-be-sure I played it as soon as I got back to my room.
I hadn’t heard my Mother’s voice for years but a child doesn’t forget the sound of that. I listened to the cassette in full, several times. I was still so angry at her for leaving us, for dying that I wanted to punish her, reject her, to make her go away. I taped-over the only known recording of my Mother’s voice. I stole that from myself and from everyone who loved her and destroyed it forever because I was angry about so many things. I can’t even remember which version of teenage angst I replaced it with in those magnetic stripes.
The unfortunate thing is that I should have been able to say goodbye with that act of violence but that is only beginning to happen today. That’s because in the act of erasing the tape I did the same thing with her memory. She has been gone this whole time, and in retrospect it might have an easier life if I had kept her close. I wish someone had told me that back then, but then again, would I have been able to hear what was being said?