Black Marie, cont’d

A few months before the end of my last tour in Nam, I received a brown envelope from my parents. In it I found their letter along with an unopened letter from Amisha. My heart leaped in hungry anticipation as well as fear of what she might have written. And a reminiscent lump formed in my throat, I felt dizzy and my heart was pounding like a trip hammer.

The letter was written three months ago.

Dear Ray,

I am so sorry for the way I left you. You did not deserve that. I was so afraid for myself and for you and what was happening. The fire was so awful. I left immediately after talking to the policeman and drove nonstop to Boulder, Colorado. All I wanted to do was get away from Tristan,  Johnny Cray, the drunks, the smells.

I found a cheap place to stay with the little cash I had grabbed when I escaped the fire and found a job in a nice bookstore.

I received the insurance settlement fairly quickly. It was very good. It gave me more than enough money that I needed to get back to India. I left shortly to go back to my family. It was so wonderful to see my mother and father and my two brothers. I gave them what insurance money that I had left to help raise our son. 

Yes, I was pregnant with our child. I found out about a month after I left Tristan. I am so sorry that I waited so long to tell you. I was afraid you would hate me. He is beautiful. I named him Ray, but we call him Ravi. He is three now and I tell him all about you. I so want you to meet him. I so want to see you. My parents love him as their own. He is a happy and healthy little boy.

A year after Ray was born I went on a yearlong meditation retreat at an ashram and with the guidance of a teacher, I began to get over my time in America and the events of that summer. I was finally able to release all that negative emotion. But I have never gotten over you. I realized how much I loved you. After my retreat, I began living and working at the ashram, teaching meditation and yoga, mainly to the more and more westerners who are visiting. This was due to my English speaking skills. I love it and am so very happy. I visit Ray and my parents every few days and miss him so when I can’t be there.

I am so very sorry that it has taken me this long to write this letter you. It took me a very long time to recover from that night and all the years I was exiled to Tristan. But missing you and our time together was the hardest part. It still is.

I miss you. I love you. It broke my heart to leave you. I think of you and pray for you every day. Please forgive me. Please write me and let me know of your life. I so want to hear from you. I need to hear from you. If possible, if you can forgive me,  I want to see you and be with you. I love you.

I am well and at peace,


I held her letter to my chest. I sat there in silent  shock. A son. We had a son that I had never met. Emotions rushed into my whole being like a raging flood. I sat and sobbed until I couldn’t any more. It was like I might sink into the earth with the weight I felt. I sat on my bunk for a long, staring into space, trying to process the letter and my feelings. All that love, hurt, and sadness were resurrected from wherever they had been residing. At first there was anger, but then all the feelings I had for her welled up, then more tears. We had a son. I never knew how much pain love can cause.

Some time later, recovered from the shock, I went to the enlisted men’s club and had a few shots and beers to settle my nerves, trying to collect my thoughts. My good friend Larry was there and came and sat down. He saw that something was wrong and asked, so I unloaded…. the whole thing from day one, concluding with the letter I had just received. Larry, the brilliant psychiatrist and mechanic that he was, said, “So what the hell are you thinking? You’re a short timer. Get your ass out of this hell hole and get to Pondicherry. Go see her, you dumb shit.” Larry’s sage advice hit home and I realized that was exactly what I would do. I could have kissed him.

I was due to muster out in two months at the end of this tour and, conveniently, had exactly two months accrued leave. I went to my commanding officer and asked for my two months leave time with discharge after. He readily agreed to my request and signed orders for me. I went to the battalion office where the Chief Yeoman got all the necessary papers together and filled out which I signed without hesitation. Now there was only a week left in Viet Nam. I booked a flight out of Saigon to Tokyo and then on to New Delhi with a train to Pondicherry. I was gone. Nervous and anxious, I  couldn’t wait to see her. I wanted to hold her, feel her heart beating next to mine, to tell her how happy she made me, how I missed her, and that I loved her. I wanted to hear her sing-song voice again. I wanted to meet our son.

A week later I was out of Nam and the Navy. It was good to be done and I was happy and relieved to be so. It was a great adventure for sure, but the war was out of hand and on a slippery slope to an unhappy ending, which came to pass a few years later when the U. S. bailed out of Viet Nam with their tail between its legs and 50,000 dead plus so many physically and mentally wounded. The cost . . . the incredible stupid waste of lives and money.

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