I am sorry I forgot to fix your record player

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You liked listening to him sing, didn’t you? I try imagining his strong bass voice, a younger charm in his grey eyes. I think I see why you loved him so. I see you sitting by his side, an old record playing in some corner of the room. He put some ice in his scotch, you smiled and rest your head on the leather-backed chair. Everything smells like a brown memory from an album I saw as a young child, I do not remember much of it, the spaces I miss, I fill with my own imaginations. This is only part-reality.

Yet I see it all confounded in your soft glance as you look at me and smile. I see this history, a life you have lived and I can only dream piece by piece, slipping across your smooth olive skin, unwrinkled, warm. I have come home after ages it seems, although it has only been a few months. You embrace me so completely I do not feel your weight against mine. You gently caress my hair, notice how it has grown long, tie it for me neatly, smile so brightly that only then I realise what being home, safe and loved, feels like. Lying by your side later that evening, I look around the room as you sleep. So very little and so much is here, photographs of all your grandchildren. Dried leaves and flowers pasted inside a photo-frame. A rosary and a pair of woollen socks. I look then at a lighter patch, a dust-rimmed square where something had long sat. The emptiness on the mahogany desk, suddenly reminded me of your broken record player.

Some weeks before I left, I took your charming possession from you, promising to get it repaired. You did not ask me about it when I returned the next week and the one after that, telling me only, repeatedly, to take good care of myself when I am so far away, to eat well, and stay covered in the cold. My thoughts rush back to where I left it last, perhaps it rusts somewhere in my room, in the dark, forgotten and lost. Perhaps it is still singing the last song you played on it, like an echo from a voice you had loved and lived by. I didn’t say anything when you woke up, and spent the night talking to you deeply. Forgive me now, for all the evenings I stole your music from you, and with it, the keepsake of your years. The music you missed would have missed you too, it would filled the quiet with something whole and familiar. Perhaps, you would have hummed when Kishore sang along an accordion. Perhaps their words would have fallen like snowy kisses on your pillow, songs could have woven together the memories and silvering leaves you have stored on your desk. Can I promise again to return your music to you? Perhaps you could play your favourite records for me once more before I have to leave, and I will carry their songs brownly in my heart as I grow old.

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