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Unhappy Women

By       Message Linh Dinh       (Page 1 of 5 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   2 comments

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Years ago in McGlinchey's, a Philly dive, I overheard a female voice, "I don't know how anyone can get married, I don't know, before they're 45. I mean, hello!" The woman was in her mid-20's.

In 2014, I was at the Golden Cicada in Jersey City when a karaoke session broke out. The participants were a group of three gay guys and two single women, plus a straight couple. In metropolitan New York, one often hears women complain about the dearth of straight men, so it's no surprise to see these young ladies enjoying a night out with their gay buddies.

As for the couple, she was Indian and he, Italian. We talked. Staring lovingly at her boyfriend, she cooed that they were engaged. He showed no emotion.

As the increasingly boisterous singers howled, "No one knows what it's like / To be the bad man / To be the sad man / Behind blue eyes," I thought of India-born poet Reetika Vazirani. She had a child out of wedlock with Yusef Komunyakaa. I've had dinners with Yusef in Philly and New York, but I never saw Reetika face-to-face. We exchanged some emails.

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On October 15th, 2002, she sent me:


After a long time. Wanted to say hello and say where I am with little Jehan who is nearly two. We are well.

Sending you the best.

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Reetika


On March 25th, 2003, she wrote:


Dear Linh,

It has been so long since our dialogue in The Literary Review. I would like to stay in touch. Here is my number: 757-565-1810. I'll be moving at the end of April. Can we speak before then?

My best, and many thanks for the messages,

Reetika


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This request for a phone chat was a bit odd, I thought. Emailing back, I explained that I was in Italy. Though I was warm and solicitous enough, I never phoned Reetika. I dislike talking over the phone.

I received one more email from Reetika in May, then in July, words came that she had stabbed her son to death before committing suicide. Reetika and Jehan never lived with Yusef, but rented a house near him in Trenton. During her final months, she reached out to many people. Surely someone could have said something to save the 41-year-old woman and her baby?

One should recall that Jehan is the name of that man who loved his wife most enduringly, for after she died, he commissioned 20,000 artisans over two decades to conjure up that "dream in marble," the Taj Mahal.

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Linh Dinh's Postcards from the End of America has just been published by Seven Stories Press. Tracking our deteriorating socialscape, he maintains a photo blog.

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