Inmate Mail

TP has set me to task - Clean. Up. Your. Office. Or. Else. And so I came across a lovely letter from Yasminay from five years ago. And so I came across some incriminating photographs of TP from his early surly years. And so I came across a few letters from prison. What's that? You've never had an article written about and photograph featuring you in the Washington Post and then received a mysterious letter (right around the height of the anthrax scare) from a prison inmate as a result? Just me, huh? How about that . . . .

Sunday, March 17th, 2002 3:40 p.m.
Asalaamu Alaykum, Ms. [Baji],
Proceeding from the verses of Allah's Book . . . (Al-Quran), I am writing you and sending you this letter card as a cheerful piece to keep you smiling and beautiful. I liked the picture that I saw of you and your cute little sister so much, I decided to make this card. Smile! I hope that it found you at peace [edited from "piece"] with yourself, healthy and strong, focus and feeling charming and very special, [Baji].

My name is Mustafa Umar [etc.] and I am Muslim, who have been truely interested in corresponding and communicating with you every since I saw your pretty name and face in the (Wash. Post) Apartment section of the news paper . . . But it took me to develope the courage to write to you, [Baji], and to ask your permission to write to you and establish a friendly dialogue with you. And with the hope that you and I can be very good friends. On a peaceful, moral and spiritual level. You look so intelligent and strong minded in your photograph hugging your sister, that your smile made me feel good. I've been lonely all of my life in America and one day, Insha'Allah, I will change that. But I would like for you to know that I would love to meet you some day and I pray that you'll give me an honest chance to get to know you as much as I would like for you to get to know me and for all that this is worth, I pray that you won't have any negative hangups about being friendly toward me.

Sister [Baji] -- I don't know if you are a Muslim or not . . . there are so many people born in med-eastern and arab countries who have arabic names . . . but are christians and Jews . . . who hate Muslims and every since 9-11-01 Muslim started really hating each other. Inspite of the New World Order. Most people put all the Muslims in a poor catagory . . . even the people who have arabic names like your are unjustly discriminated against for your name sake. Which is so insane and childish. But if you have experience any ill favor or disrespect for being who you are which no-one can change. Learn to treat it as a compliment . . . Because, regardless, of what the the people in this world put you through . . . you are as beautiful as your name and thoughts and can't no-one take that away from you. So hold on Allah is Akbar and He is leading on and the victory is Allah.

[Baji] . . . when I look at your photo . . . I see a woman that I would love to talk to and I pray that you are as friendly as you look. But more than anything, as beautiful in heart as you are in form.

So Stay. Beautiful.


P.S. I would love to hear from you I'll sned you a photo. Please write me back.
Thank you [Baji]. Salam!!

[editor's note: all spelling and grammar appear as written in the letter except the [Baji] part where he used my real name and that freaked me out and annoyed me b/c I HATE it when people over use your name, especially your real name . . .]

[editor's note: a follow up letter from my buddy Omar appearing a month later included questions regarding my ability to cook as well as homework in reading some articles he included]


knicq said...

I have been sitting here for sometime now wondering exactly how I feel. I have had to read the letter again, and think myself in your shoes, to be relatively sure that I feel FREAKED OUT!

You still lived in that same country? One brave pirate you are!

Owl said...




I kinda feel bad for him though. But kind of not barking up the right tree, eh?

baji said...

kn - FREAKED OUT was the milder level i felt after a few weeks had passed. at the time, i remember telling my friends, "if i am found murdered in my bed or have mysteriously disappeared, this is the guy who did it."

owl - not only barking up the wrong tree but plain old barking mad if he thought i'd write him back and fall for his compliments (which skeeved me out even more than the political commentary).

wayfarer said...

lol. i'm sure he's harmless... it was a funny read though.

i remember ordering some islamic books once from a company who apparently also sent some to prisons. The books i ordered went to some inmate and he wrote me a long letter on how great it was that i was reading and my name didn't sound muslim etc etc. Of course it ended on the same note...please be my friend. I never wrote of course. Better than hate mail right?

what were you doing in the paper in such nice form (LOL)?

yasmine said...

1. highfive to letters from me!

2. ah, so those 'early surly' footoos of TP were of long ago! i thought maybe you were testing out funkycool settings on your digicam, but then was confused because TP looked a bit different (read: young and surly ;))

3. "your buddy omar," eh? he is too much the cracking me up.

i like his little addition of "notwithstanding" in there. just starting off a paragraph with "notwithstanding," and then adding in a line break for no reason.

like Owl, i feel kinda bad for him, too. but geez, HOMEWORK?! homework puts him on the BOYCOTTED list!

and i forgot what else i was going to say. am still kinda befuddled by this note.

WAIT. did he have your address?! these notes came directly to your HOME?! (interro-SCARY!)

and also, he uses the word "beautiful" way too many times. i mean, it's one of my favorite words, but still, he overuses it. gah.

baji said...

wy - yes, prison mail is better than hate mail, but still! the w.post was doing an article about our 1920s apartment complex and they asked us (LB and me) to be interviewed and photographed. i was shocked by how many friends/family bother to read the real estate section of the post and yet even months later we were getting comments like, "i saw you guys in the post!"

yz - actually, i haven't uploaded the true early surly year pix yet. i'm holding on to them for future blackmail times. but the one with the fat cat was from 1995. :) as for the address, that's another thing that made me suspicious b/c it was address to me but was conveniently missing the apartment number (of course, i'm the only "Baji" in DC . . . if not the world so of course it still arrived). he got the building address from the article itself! also, yeah, i can't stand it when people overuse any word, even 'beautiful,' in a correspondence. not good form. :D

Lil B said...

i still want to know, where the hell was MY prison fan mail??? the article was about ME, i just let you be in the photo! hmph.

baji said...

what! you didn't "let" me be in the photo! it was about the apartment, of which i rented half! anyway, my buddy omar said that you were cute. :)

Saeed said...

lol @ Li'l B.

upyernoz said...

yeah, what lil b said!

you left out the funniest part of the story. both you and your sister were in the paper but you're the only one who got any prison lovin'.

i think you're just inherently attractive to felons. (which brings up back to those incriminating photos of TP...)

baji said...

found the article and it appears that LB was the only one quoted (along with some other residents):

"I'm not interested in a place with a lot of young professionals and a fitness center. I like that I live across the hall from a wonderful, elderly Argentinian woman. I like the kind of people who live here. The building has a distinct character and that's a plus."