May 03, 2012
Young Obama in Love: A Girlfriend's Secret Diary
David Maraniss in Vanity Fair:
If Barack and Genevieve were in social occasions as a couple, it was almost always with the Pakistanis. Hasan Chandoo had moved back from London and taken a place in a converted warehouse on the waterfront below Brooklyn Heights. Wahid Hamid, starting a rise up the corporate ladder that would take him to the top of PepsiCo, lived on Long Island with his wife. Sohale Siddiqi was part of the crowd, along with Beenu Mahmood. It was a movable feast, and invariably a matter of bounty and excess, friends losing themselves in food and conversation. Barack for the most part declined alcohol and drugs. “He was quite abstemious,” Genevieve said. She enjoyed the warmth of the gatherings, but was usually ready to go home before him. He was pushing away from the Pakistanis, too, politely, for a different reason, she thought. He wanted something more.
Beenu Mahmood saw a shift in Obama that corresponded to Genevieve’s perceptions. He could see Obama slowly but carefully distancing himself as a necessary step in establishing his political identity as an American. For years when Barack was around them, he seemed to share their attitudes as sophisticated outsiders who looked at politics from an international perspective. He was one of them, in that sense. But to get to where he wanted to go he had to change.
Mahmood remembered that “for a period of two or three months” Obama “carried and at every opportunity read and reread a fraying copy of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. It was a period during which Barack was struggling deeply within himself to attain his own racial identity, and Invisible Man became a prism for his self-reflection.” There was a riff in that book that Mahmood thought struck close to the bone with Obama.
Posted by S. Abbas Raza at 10:35 AM | Permalink