The sun has set. It is 1988. I know the year because of the scenery. It is the most vivid year I will ever live in, because the scenery is never revisited, but it is constant for six or seven months.
The air is thick because the air is always thick, as it is always alive with the song of mosquitoes. The walls are blank, and voices follow their speakers down corridors. Every memory is a photograph and a set of lyrics, brought to life by someone singing. The lyrics don’t matter: it just matters that I heard them here, over and over, my three cassette tapes and my pink, battery-operated, AM/FM radio and tape recorder.
I have a memory of the hour being later than I was supposed to be awake, but the nuns liked my curiosity. They liked to talk to me. I was listening to the sound of music that wasn’t mine, and watching the light that came up through thick glass set into the floor. I was watching through empty stone windows. The building was a maze for the wind, to keep out the heat outside. All of the wildlife wandered in and left my skin red and white in lumps. The rest crawled about all day on the floor, and for every pill I wouldn’t take my mother put me face-down on the cool tiles where the disinfectant came each morning, where the bugs crawled. I had to stay until I took the pills: the nuns bribed me to take them instead. This is why when all my friends are afraid of their convent-school captors I am not.
It is an undetermined month. The girls at the convent school are learning a traditional dance. I have no memory of the dance, only of the feeling of the music and the light from the floor and watching where I shouldn’t be standing, and my mother coming to take me back to bed. I remember bangles, when I am given them. They accompany me for years, until I outgrow them: the anklets I have still, wear still, twenty-year-old, twenty-five-year-old Indian silver with long-lost bells replaced over and over. My mother hates them: I only want to dance the dances I cannot remember.