Diary of Barack Obama’s Pakistani roommate

The ongoing search for all photos and documents from President Obama’s past has turned up a diaryDiary
that his Pakistani roommate kept in the early 1980s. Some of the entries are quite revealing:

Aug. 28, 1981: Barack and I went searching for furniture today. We found a couch that someone had dumped on the street. It doesn’t look too bad, once we turned the cushions over. It doesn’t smell bad either, once Barack sprayed it with his Brut.

Sept. 14, 1981: Barack and I have been eating pizza, macaroni and cheese, and Ramen noodles for dinner. But today, I decided to make chicken curry for a change. Barack tasted it and said, “Mmmm … This is a good change. Did I tell you how much I believe in change?”

Oct. 2, 1981: I tried to get Barack to give up cigarettes today. I said to him, “Why smoke cigarettes when you can smoke pot?” But it didn’t work. Poor guy. He really needs some help.

Nov. 13, 1981: Barack is a little too square. I’m trying to get him to be more stylish, more cool. Yesterday, I took him to see the movie Sholay at a friend’s house, hoping that Amitabh Bachchan’s style would rub off on him. And today, Barack is walking around wearing a wide-collared shirt and saying, “Tera naam kya hai, Basanti?”

Nov. 20, 1981: Barack is such a dreamer. He talks about being leader of America one day. I told him that he needs to shoot for something more realistic, such as leader of the church choir. I mean, the day a black man becomes leader of America is the day I need to give up weed.

Dec. 11, 1981: I spent the entire morning teaching Barack how to pronounce Pakistan. He kept saying “Pack-he-stan.” He finally got it right though. In a few days, we’ll try it again and this time without the rubber band on his tongue.

Jan. 14, 1981: I wish I was as smart as Barack. His brain is like a sponge. Mine is like a stone. When we go to nightclubs, he doesn’t have to write any phone numbers down. Neither do I, but that’s another story.

March 3, 1982: Barack is concerned about all the homeless people in the city. He says he wants to show them how they can help themselves. “It’s a good idea,” I told him. “Just do it on the street, not in our apartment. I don’t want them helping themselves here.”

April 22, 1982: Barack and I are really into the party scene. I’m always ready to go to a party and he’s always recruiting for one.

May 8, 1982: Barack dragged me along to the basketball court this evening. There were some other guys there. Barack and another guy picked teams. I was the worst player there, but Barack picked me first. On the way home, he said, “Winning isn’t everything. Besides, none of those other guys knows how to make chicken curry.”

If you enjoyed this piece, you'll love Melvin's novel Bala Takes the Plunge, available in North America through Amazon.com and McNallyRobinson.com You can also find it at major bookstores in India and Sri Lanka or online at FlipKart, IndiaPlaza, FriendsofBooks or other sites. A number of readers have written reviews of the novel. An excerpt of the novel can be read here.

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