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Nikki Haley became the first woman ever to win Republican Party nomination to contest elections to be the Governor, in the U.S. state of South Carolina.

Hail Nikki Haley!

She rose from obscurity in just six months, polling just around ten percentage points early this year, to become a sensational national star politician. In the run off election she trounced her opponent, a senior party pol, by a two to one margin.

She is thus potentially the second person of Indian ancestry in the US to become a state governor. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana is the other one.

Interestingly, both Haley and Jindal won as Republicans.

The Democratic Party, despite having a majority of Indians – and other minorities in general – supporting it, and participating at local levels, has rarely given rise to major national political heroes.  This despite the fact that quite a large number of high-profile administration postions have been given to Indians, at least in the last 10-15 years. What accounts for there being no liberal equivalents of Haley, Jindal et al?

By emphasizing the primacy of identity over ideas, and blind party loyalty over individual ambition, the Democrats have not offered top-level opportunity to Indians in the political field. Indians in the party are often back-of-the-line loyalists, behind blacks, Mexicans, other ethnic groups and white women. With identity and gender based Democratic Party politics it’s just a numbers game. The Republican Party, on the other hand,  seems to care more about devout Conservatism regardless of who embraces it – a trend also being observed in the UK recently. Incidentally, there may be a clue here for Indian political ideologues and thinkers of the Saffron shade!

What does such idea versus identity politics imply for Americans?

It is difficult to avoid the thought that an Indian-origin President of the United States, if that ever happens, is more likely to be a Republican than a Democrat.

Something to think about, all you young Indians in the USA!

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UPDATE:

Latest ad from Nikki features her husband;

There has been a viral, near electrical buzz going around the Internet about some scurrilous rumor about Nikki Haley, our favorite candidate for Governor of the state of South Carolina.

Don’t you believe it.

That simple.

We’ve seen this movie before. Sarah Palin is not the mother of her own child, Sarah Palin is divorcing, Sarah is moving out of family home in Alaska, etc., ect.

Let’s not even start about the mudslinging that went on during both the primary and the general election in 2008. Hillary, McCain, Palin, and a whole lot of others. All the while, the real fiasco, the truth of the affair of John Edwards, nobody knew anything about that!

Politics can be dirty anywhere, the US is no exception. Especially where a less known, tough-talking, principled, ideas-driven person is concerned – one as different as Nikki Haley, or Sarah Palin, – the scoundrels come out of the woodwork when least expected.

Within a few short days of getting endorsement by Sarah Palin, and Nikki having benefited with a double-digit lead, the character assassination begins. Such is politics.

Go read the Facebook page of Governor Sarah Palin. She said eloquently, forcefully and from the heart. There is little that can be added.

GO NIKKI, GO SARAH!

As the say, Truth Triumphs!

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A new Rasmussen poll shows our girl Nikki Haley taking a lead in the race for the Governor of South Carolina. The election on June 8, 2010 is a Primary Election in which voters of both Republican and Democratic parties will chose their respective candidates for the final election – the US Midterm Election in November 2010. Nikki Haley is fighting to be nominated as the first female candidate of the Republican party, as the first woman of Indian parentage to contest in a state-wide election in South Carolina.

Rasmussen Poll Link.

Recently Nikki Haley got endorsement from the sensational, super-star of the Republican party, Sarah Palin. McCain-Palin ticket won the state of South Carolina in 2008. So, this is a great boost for Haley.

several political analysts say the “rock star sisterhood” of Palin and Sanford could be a big boost for Haley’s bid to be the state’s first woman governor.

 

 

In the above video clip, Sarah Palin refers to “a whole lot of people, proudly clinging to guns and religion.” at 1 Min:40 Sec mark. That is a sharp dig at candidate Obama who was caught by a journalist in 2008 deriding rural Americans for their faith and gun love. Ouch, that dig must hurt!

Also, note that Governor Palin refers to Nikki Haley, as a “home-grown girl”.

What a wonderful tribute, from an amazing woman.

There is in no doubt that Sarah Palin is a great force in American politics, her support to Nikki Haley will amount to at least 15-20 percentage points. That should give her a majority of the GOP turnout. Combine that with Nikkis’s personal charm, style and policy stances will yield rich dividends come November too.

Finally, note how towards the end of the clip above Sarah identifies fully with Nikki’s personal political journey.

Sarah Palin calls Nikki Haley a kindred spirit.

Hail Nikki Haley!

Hail Sarah Palin!

 

Nikki Haley Campaign Website Link.

 

Contributions to Nikki Haley, (U.S. citizens only, please!)

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LATEST Nikki Wins!!

Read about it here: NIkki Haley Wins – And, it’s a big deal!


UPDATE II


38-year-old Nikki Haley is writing the most improbable political success story of 2010.

Walter Shapiro.

UPDATE:

SARAH PALIN ADDS HER VOICE!!

{The Republican gubernatorial primary in the US, to select who will contest the November 2010 election to be Governor of South Carolina, will take place on Tuesday, June 8. One week prior to that event the race is white hot, with racism, sexism, misogyny, slander, innuendo, and hate.}

Nikki Haley is getting a lot of support from a wide range of politicians, opinion leaders and bloggers across the country and the world, despite or perhaps even due to scurrilous attacks on her. To wit:

She needs to win this election if only because her enemies so richly deserve defeat.

Conservatives For Palin, a website vehemently written in the cause of Sarah Palin’s candidacy in 2012, is the latest to come up with a very nice post of support. As some readers my know, Governor Palin endorsed Nikki Haley. In some quarters, female candidates in the same league as Sarah Palin are known as ‘Mama Grizzlies’.  SC State Representative Nikki Haley would be the latest in this group that includes Carly Fiorina of California, Michelle Bachmann of Minnesota, Jan Brewer of Arizona – strong, motherly, conservativse, and feminists all.

Pundit & Pundette , Allahpundit, Ace of Spades, Dan Riehle, Dr. Melissa Clouthier all wrote in support of Nikki Haley.

IU thinks that GOP politics in the US just took a turn for better. They are in the process of purging their own internal putrid atavistic negativists.  So,  when will the Liberals do the same? Hmm… May be there is a beginning of it after all. For even Democratic women are starting to voice support for Nikki Haley – check out Taylor Marsh and Dana Goldstein.

In the meantime, Governor Sarah Palin comes out guns blazing in full furious support of our girl.  Despite all recent local campaign venom against Nikki Haley, Sarah Palin continued her vocal support via Facebook as well as recorded phone messages to voters. You’ve just got to love Sarah Palin!

Original Post Starts Here:

Nikki, Namrata, Randhawa, Haley, Randhawa-Haley, whatever … to quote the poet, a rose by another name …

The point is this: This Rose is Our Rose. Nikki Haley is an Indian Rose!

South Carolina State Representative Nikki Randhawa Haley is an American at heart, with an Indian face and a Sikh soul. And in true Granth tradition, she blends and creates a spiritual fusion of Individualism, Sikhism, Hinduism, Methodist Church and an unapologetic conservative political philosophy. All in the service of the people among whom she was born, raised and, adored.

Folks of Indian origin are a bit befuddled about her – is she Indian or American, a Kaur or a Yank, worse yet, she is n’t a redneck, is she?

Nikki Randhawa Haley running for Governor of South Carolina

Americans are equally divided, they either love her, decidedly partisan about her, or are just plain uninformed and confused.

Truth is simple. Nikki Haley is American. Nikki Haley is of Indian origin. That simple!

She is our girl, just as much as astronauts Sunita Williams, and Kalpana Chawla, Iowa State Senator Swati Dandekar, or, Yahoo!’s Srinija “Ninja” Srinivasan (5o most important people of the Internet – Newsweek)

When you cross borders, and cultures clash, confusion is inevitable. But Nikki has shown how comfortably one can adapt and live. Just be true to yourself, be yourself!

Nikki’s greatest gift to voters is herself. She represents fusion, ambition, integrity and perseverance.

Her speeches show her to be quite charming and witty, and something of a policy wonk.

She is also folksy, funny and personable at the same time.

She is certainly a gift, and she definitely deserves your support.

So, please tell all you know that live in the US about her.

Nikki Haley website

More about Nikki Haley at Senator From Punjab.

Click Here to contribute to Nikki Haley’s campaign for Governor of South Carolina (US citizens and residents only, please).

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“Well, you know, I thought it was an elaborate joke. I have friends who play practical jokes,” Ramakrishnan told The Associated Press by telephone from his lab in Cambridge. “I complimented him on his Swedish accent.”

Ramakrishnan described his work on ribosomes as an attempt to understand “this large molecular machine that takes information from genes and uses it to stitch together protein.”

He said he and others had been using X-ray crystallography to build an “atomic picture of this enormous machine.”

“Now we can start figure out how it does this complicated process,” he said. Yahoo News

Associated Press newsphoto, via Times of India.

Associated Press newsphoto, via Times of India.

Congratulations Dr. Ramakrishnan!

Joint-winner of 2009 Nobel Prize for Chemistry. For his work on a neutron-scattering map of the RNA of ribosomes, the protein-making structures in cells.

What follows is a modest compendium of links, pics, quotes and news clips.

I am interested in the structure and function of the translational machinery, which makes proteins in all cells using instructions encoded in the gene. This process involves the ribosome and its interaction with mRNA, tRNA and various protein factors. US National Academy of Sciences Member Directory.

THE RIBOSOME PAGE of Dr. Ramakrshnan’s research lab is a delight! If you visit their site, don’t miss short animation movie about protein synthesis in a ribosome. It’s a fun way to learn about his work and what it implies.

ribosomemovie1

From Dr. Ramakrishnan's Lab - Click on image for Animation Film

Times of India, profile.

Ramakrishnan shares the 2009 Nobel Prize for Chemistry with Thomas A Steitz of Yale University and Ada E Yonath of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel.

Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, chief executive of the Medical Research Council, said: “We are absolutely delighted that Dr Ramakrishnan’s work has been recognized with the 2009 Nobel Prize for Chemistry. Venky’s award is the Medical Research Council’s 29th Nobel Prize and is a reflection of the excellent work that our scientists do. Times of India.

Ada Yonath of Israel is one of only four women, since Madame Curie, of the pitchblend fame (1898) to win the Nobel in Chemistry.

To listen the MAN himself, Dr. Ramakrishnan talks on the telephone with the official Nobel staffer, a traditional phone call now available online here. This is a highly recommended audio, specially the last one minute! IU can’t wait for it to be on youtube!

For the truly curious, LiveMint of WSJ, has an audio podcast here, that explains Ribosomes and all. Umesh Varshney of Bangalore explains it all. A nice little science talk, recommended.

Scienceblogs has a very nice explanation of the explanation from the Committee as to why the research of these three scientists deserved the Nobel award.

Reuters video of the live announcement. Nice.

IndiaTimes announcement video can be seen here. Caution: If you are used to world class media at all, this Indian-style news video will cause your mind to explode with its incomprehensible accent, inane graphics, and staccato delivery. Enjoy it, a little jingoism doesn’t hurt, eh!

Some thoughts on Indian Nobelists:

Another Indian settled abroad wins a Nobel Prize!

IU is thrilled, of course. There is the thrilling notion of a culture that continues to exercise creative, constructive influence even as, around us in the world, other cultures continue to spur adherents in destructive ways. Hopefully, this constitutes a true difference. On the other hand, why are not the Nobels won for work done IN India. Why do Indians win only when they leave the land and work elsewhere. Please, don’t blame the infrastructure or colonialism. Even Literature prize has gone to an expat, generations removed, and may someday do so again (to a Booker winning expat, no less).

IU will be even more thrilled if the Nobel goes someday to someone who actually worked on Indian soil, in an Indian laboratory, at an Indian institution. When such a day does arrive, IU hopes the winner doesn’t turn out to be a Haldane or a Ross. That would be rich irony!  Granted, science is truly global and color-blind, but the culture of the people who produce the scientists is very regional and ethnic. How people organize their hearts and minds does, matter.

IU will be waiting with a bated breath, for that day when a Nobel is won by an Indian who has never left the shores. That would have been the sort of land that Tagore was praying for. (Ahh, unwittingly, we come full circle back to him, our first (1913) Nobelist!)

A few more thoughts along these lines – it’s not the water! – can be found here.

Addendum:

Maps of India has a nice round up of India’s claim to Nobel fame.

India Unfinished, continues…

Update:

And leave it to Indians to dramatize every bit of life .. including one scientist’s inclination to lead the quiet life of science research. Details at Asian Window.

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Reetika Vazirani / J.Mandel via Poets.org

Reetika Vazirani / J.Mandel via Poets.org

I knew there was something in the air when I felt like reading poetry aloud early this morning. There was a restless feeling too, that just wouldn’t go away. And a sense of yearning that made me go through a lot of old notes and files, and look up people not lately contacted. In short, there was a spirit about, that bespoke of past times and passed beings, and of a sense of loss. Suddenly, it came to me out of nowhere, a flash.

A quick look-up confirmed it: it’s the anniversary of the death of Reetika Vazirani. What a death it was, when that news first broke. And now looking back at a distance, what a life – a life of the mind – it was!

Reetika was born in Patiala, State of Punjab, India, to a talented and ambitious dentist,  an Oral Surgeon in fact, and a lady diplomat. The Vazirani family came to the USA  when Reetika was just 7 years old. The family  moved around quite a bit, a dozen times as Reetika was growing up in America, getting adjusted to a new land, new life, and a new herself. The little girl had strong impressions of growing up to become a teenager in those days, most famously described in this oft’ quoted poem:

“Daddy always cautioned me
how many rupees it took to get
a dollar; and when I bought my first
Chanel lipstick, it was as if
I might have bought a cow in India.
It was always like that-what I
could have had were we in Delhi.
So that on holiday at Reno Road
he’d hint that Washington was not
like home. That’s why he didn’t want
me window-shopping downtown”

Tragedy seems to have struck Reetika early. A certain darkness was with her, her whole life. She was a gifted person, sensitive, smart and talented. She was fluent in English, French and Hindi, but was never quite comfortable in any particular culture or sure of what life had in store for her. She tried the sciences, she tried the humanities, and only perchance ended up a poet.

Her life ended tragically, horribly. It wasn’t merely that she took her own life, she also took away the life of the one she gave life to.

India-born poet Reetika Vazirani and her two-year-old son were found dead with their wrists slashed at their house in a posh section of the US capital.

Vazirani, who used verse to describe her experience as a child and as an Indian immigrant was staying with her son Jehan for the summer in the the Chevy Chase home of her friend and novelist Howard Norman and poet Jane Shore, who are spending the summer at their home in Vermont.

Police have found a note from the scene with references to the boy’s father, Pulitzer prize winning poet and Princeton University professor Yusef Komunyakaa.

Police called the deaths an apparent murder-suicide, pending an official ruling, The Washington Post reported quoting sources.

Neighbours and friends told reporters that there had been signs that Vazirani was distraught.

Rediff India Newsreport

Reetika’s life was saturated with sadness and tragedy. Here is Jane Albertson, a most unlikely biographer of Reetika.

Calling her Reetika bothers me. See, she wasn’t my friend, or my colleague. In fact, I never knew Reetika. I only knew of her. And I mean that I only knew her work, her poetry, a blue fire burning across a page. I came across her work completely by accident [sic]
In 1968, Reetika and the Vaziranis, her four brothers and sisters and her parents, migrated from Punjab to Silver Spring, MD. At the age of twelve, her father, a Professor of Dentistry at Howard University, committed suicide (Shea, 40). [sic]

Though the strain of his passing ate at the family’s hopes, they did not speak about his death, the mother’s silence a contagion amongst the children. In the 2003 Poets and Writers interview, Vazirani continues to explain that until she was 26, she was emotionally numb, having “…no sense that there was a place for me in the world except in books” (40). Though her father’s suicide was, in Reetika’s terms, a “complete rejection,” his act begins Vazirani’s journey toward definition, not a place for her in the world, but a way to live in the world that doesn’t want you. [sic]

For Vazirani, the intellectual space of the migrant experience and the physical space of the migrant body cannot be metabolized (Morris, 5). She says in her essay, The Art of Breathing, “I didn’t have the cultural confidence to be proud…I felt like a foreigner in my home” (Budhos). In Vazirani, we find the immigrant confronting and conjoining those spaces, those weighty silences alive in the unspoken anxiety of the Indian living in the West, and, importantly, living the West.

The Internet became quickly filled with tributes and life stories when news of her death first broke.

Here is a tribute from someone who knew and worked with her.

This is my elegy for a woman with whom I worked, all too briefly, but whose abundant gifts as a writer, teacher and colleague have been a source of joy and inspiration. She had a precise, analytical approach to craft that reflected the scientific training of the aspiring physician she had once been. Beneath that, however, she was passionate, vulnerable and sometimes brutally frank, but never mean-spirited. We spoke together of what it was to be mother, artist, worker, lover — how it can seem that, without some overarching faith, to be all of these things at once is to be none of them fully — at least not in a way that feeds you, helps you to carry on.

In the community of poets, her work was widely read and respected. Vazirani’s second book, World Hotel(Copper Canyon, 2002) won the 2003 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award. Her first book, White Elephantswon the 1996 Barnard New Women Poets Prize. Other honors included a 1994 “Discovery/The Nation” Award, a Pushcart Prize, the Poets & Writers Exchange Program Award, and the Glenna Luschei/Prairie Schooner Award. Her work has been published in such venues as Agni, Antioch Review, Callaloo, Partisan Review, and Ploughshares. Professor Kim’s Notes.

This is her official biography page at a poetry website.

Recipient of a 2003 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for her second book, World Hotel (Copper Canyon, 2002), and a Barnard New Women Poets Prize for White Elephants(1996),

Poems written in memory of family members, to husbands, to lovers, and poems from mother to daughter.

Poems written in memory of family members, to husbands, to lovers, and poems from mother to daughter.

Reetika Vazirani was educated at Wellesley College and received her M.F.A. from the University of Virginia where she was a Hoyns Fellow. Her poems have appeared in AGNI, Best American Poetry 2000, The Kenyon Review, Literary Review, Meridian, The Nation, Paris Review, Partisan Review, Ploughshares, TriQuarterly, and others.

She was a recipient of a “Discovery”/The Nation Award, a Pushcart Prize, the Poets & Writers Exchange Program Award, and the Glenna Luschei/Prairie Schooner Award for her essay, “The Art of Breathing,” which appears in the anthology How We Live our Yoga (Beacon, 2001). She has been a Contributing and Advisory Editor for Shenandoah and was the guest poetry editor of two issues. She was a Book Review Editor for Callaloo and a Senior Poetry Editor of Catamaran, a journal featuring work by artists from South Asia.

Reetika Vazirani page at Poets.org

REETIKA – DEPRESSION – WRITING


It is said that depression is the midnight disease of the artistic. To be gifted with sadness and melancholia is a blessing to a soul so sensitive as to suffer the nuances of human feelings, unencumbered by the vicissitudes of mundane existence and preoccupations of the corpus. We all suffer, but also long to record. It is given to the best of us, the talented few to articulate it all for the rest of us. The human soul sings, and longs to sing out loud. To be able to articulate those feelings, to be chosen to be thus talented, that is the choice of the gods, the gift of life, the blessing of being an artist.

Reetika Vazirani is that special gift, specially for those who straddle the culture divide.

One year after her death, netizens were still sounding off, like at this Poetry Forum initiated at the invitation by  About poetry blogger Margery Snyder.

SUICIDE – DEPRESSION

Ms. Paula Span, an author and on death, dying, and suicide wrote an insightful article for Washington Post Magazine, A Failing Light. That article proved to be so popular, there was an online live chat with Span. The original WaPo link is hard to work with, but the post can be accessed here, thanks to Mahbubul Karim (Sohel). Span weaves a narrative combining Reetika’s life story – the most detailed biographical sketch yet – and literary endeavors , with hints at the forces at play in the inner life of the struggling poet. (An alternative source, also with a full reprint of A Failing Light is Chowk, thaks to Samina Sha.)

After her father’s death and her mother’s remarriage four years later, Reetika spent a long time feeling “numb,” she told Renee Shea, who interviewed her for Poets Writers magazine in 2002. “I had no sense that there was a place for me in the world except in books.”

The letters she wrote her friend and adviser E. Ethelbert Miller in the late ’80s and ’90s show her struggling to get noticed, to get published, to connect with the world of culture and literature where she clearly felt she belonged.

She was living, instead, with her husband, John Jordan — a family friend and aspiring musician she’d married in 1989 — in Nashville and then Blacksburg, Va. She was sending her submissions to small literary journals, getting turned down, sending them out again, all the while scrounging for money for postage and photocopying.

By 1994, important publications had begun to accept her work, but she still sounded frustrated. To make ends meet, she’d been working at Pier 1 Imports, then at a bookstore; she taught English at private schools. Restive in her marriage (it ended in 1997), she was starting to think about the graduate writing program at U-Va. “I guess it’s partly the panic of being 32 having no job, no future,” she fretted in a postcard.

Marilyn Hacker, who had discovered her work among the 800 submissions she received each month as editor of the Kenyon Review, was taken with “the novelistic eye for detail and character and landscape, the spoken voices with different inflections.” It was Hacker who awarded Reetika the Barnard New Women Poets Prize, which put her on the map and got White Elephants published.

Establishing a poetry career requires a combination of courage and foolhardiness. Success is likely to bring neither fortune nor fame, yet the competition is ferocious and growing.

Certain key numbers are tiny. Print run of Reetika’s second book: 3,000 copies. Advance paid by the publisher, the nonprofit Copper Canyon Press: probably about $2,500. Circulation of the nation’s largest poetry magazine: about 12,000.

She had an instinct, too, for finding protective older poets to guide and advance her, like Ethelbert Miller, Washington’s Mr. Poetry, who arranged her first readings, and Rita Dove, who included her in the Best American Poetry collection in 2000.

Though she and Komunyakaa never married (she told friends that he was willing but she’d declined), she did want to give their relationship every chance, to give Jehan a family. She left Sweet Briar a year earlier than planned and moved into Komunyakaa’s big old house in Trenton in the spring of 2001. But the place seemed “cavernous,” she complained; the neighborhood felt dangerous; she was far from friends and family. The relationship — about which she was discreet — evidently wasn’t working. She began to talk about being afraid, though she never said exactly what frightened her.

The idea of the tortured artist is such a centuries-old cliche that it’s tempting to dismiss it. Writers themselves bridle at it. Surely accountants and electricians are equally prone to psychopathology? “The making of a monument to these madwomen poets,” Meena Alexander protests, anticipating the inevitable comparisons to Sylvia Plath or Anne Sexton, both suicides, “I think that’s terrible.” And it’s true that most artists don’t suffer from mood disorders, while most people who do aren’t particularly creative.

Despite her reputation for an endearing openness, Reetika was actually selective about her disclosures. She confided lots of details to lots of people, but almost no one knew everything. People who’d felt close to her for years didn’t know about her father’s suicide. Girlfriends outside the literary world sometimes heard more about her relationships than longtime poet friends.

I have so far quoted extensively from Paula Span’s exquisite article. Surely, these blockquotes don’t convey it all, being but a miniscule self-selection out of an extensive, probitive narrative. Others could extract different paragraphs, obviously, but that’s not the point. Here, see what follows, a chilling account of the final moments. Paula shows us from the inside, not a journalist, but a er, as herself a writert:

Sunday, July 13. Reetika — now housesitting in Washington at the comfortable Quesada Street home of poet Jane Shore and novelist Howard Norman — took Jehan to services at Denise King-Miller’s church in Georgetown. She’d been drawn to religion more lately; in Williamsburg, she’d joined a Bible study group. Reetika loved the service, but on the phone with Susan Sears that evening, she was weepy. “She felt hopeless,” Sears says.

Monday, July 14. She invited herself to the Miller home for dinner, bringing salmon, broccoli and cherries from Whole Foods. While they chatted, Denise fixed the meal. (“That was delicious,” Jehan declared afterward.) She was leaning toward Emory again, Reetika revealed, because Jehan had been accepted into an excellent preschool.

Tuesday, July 15. Jay Mandal, a New York photographer friend who took her publicity photos, visited Reetika while he was in Washington on a one-day assignment. “I think I want to kill myself,” she confessed to him. Once he realized she wasn’t joking, Mandal called a psychologist he knew in the District, leaving messages (not returned in time) at his office, his home, on his cell phone: A friend needs your help.

That same day, the Rev. Percival D’Silva received a message at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament down the street: A woman needed to speak to a priest.

He’d seen Reetika before, D’Silva realized as she sat in the brocade wing chair in his quiet office; he’d waved at her as she strolled in the neighborhood with her little boy. Maybe she felt drawn to him, though she wasn’t Catholic, because he was also Indian American. Or perhaps the church itself — an imposing Gothic structure with a bell tower — promised sanctuary. She also knocked on a neighbor’s door that day and asked to borrow a Bible.

“On the outside, she seemed pretty calm. But from what she was telling me, I could see she was disturbed. At times there were tears in her eyes,” D’Silva remembers. After 39 years in the priesthood, he thought he could recognize depression. He asked Reetika, several times, to make no decisions that could harm her — “Put things on hold” — and she agreed. He promised to locate and lend her a book, Spiritual Help for Depression.

Wednesday, July 16. Reetika awakened her friend Diane Taylor with a 7:15 a.m. call. “Diane, I’m going to hurt myself and Jehan,” she said in a whispery voice. Call the suicide hot line right now, Taylor urged.

“No, they’ll put me on drugs, and they’ll put me in the hospital,” Reetika said.

“No, they won’t.”

“Yes, yes, they will.”

Then call that minister you know there, Taylor said, changing tactics, and call me right back.

But the minister, Denise King-Miller, was out and didn’t hear Reetika’s message, “I think I’m going to hurt myself,” until several hours later.

An acquaintance Reetika was scheduled to lunch with on Thursday also got a confusing call. She was having an “emergency,” Reetika said, so the woman, a poet who knew Jane Shore and had a key to the house, should just let herself in. Her apparent role was to discover the bodies.

The Live Online discussion with Paula Spann that covered a number of aspects of Reetika Vazirani death in particular and her mental state in general can be accessed here. Thankfully, this link still works, hope WaPo will keep it viable.

According to the website of her alma mater, Reetika Vazirani’s posthumous collection of poetry, Radha Says, will be published sometime around November of 2009. The release will coincide with the debut of a new literary house Drunken Boat Media.

In the wake of her death, poet Uma Parameswaran was moved to write:

As we circle the flame the Muses have taken to themselves,
Let us pray they grant us the courage, if our time should come,
to let go of our woman strength, our mother love,
our poet pride of honeyed nuances that drop silent into flowers
so subtly no one else can see, hear, feel their awe-ful urgency.
The courage to let go of all and scream loud and clear
HELP ME!  NOW!

I already feel better, having composed this elegy for a beautiful soul I never met. It is my fond hope that Reetika Vazirani is resting in peace somewhere in that timeless place, weaving lovely cosmic lyrics.

For, once a poet, forever forlorn. Plus, the universe is listening, really, Reetika!

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