Jane Ratcliffe | Longreads | February 2019 | 15 minutes (4,177 words)
I first stumbled across Reema Zaman on Facebook where each week she posts Love Letter Monday in which she discusses her life, both the hardships and successes, in an unabashedly self-loving manner. At first it caught me by surprise. I was so unaccustomed to hearing a woman speak well of herself — it felt, well, wrong. But soon enough I found myself sneaking back as if the words were contraband and the act of reading them a necessary revolution. The posts also contain an outpouring of love for the reader. A clarion call for women to turn “wound into wisdom” and “pain into poetry.” To be the authors of their own lives.
Her new memoir I Am Yours continues the call. In an evolving age-specific voice, Reema guides the reader through her life from a childhood in Bangladesh and Thailand with a domineering and unpredictable father, through anorexia and rape while living with roommates in Manhattan and navigating an often degrading and even dangerous life as an actress and model, to emotional abuse while living in a dilapidated barn in the middle of no-cell-phone-service woods with her then husband until, at age thirty, she at last lands a room of her own.
Reema’s prose is as ablaze as her heart. Lyrical, precise, in places frothing with desire or rage or faith, Reema’s unbridling of her tightly-watched self-suppressed voice is not an easy task. Yet it’s an essential one. These are hard stories, let loose at last with grace, sagacity, and dollops of clever humor. At its heart, I Am Yours is a story of hope. Read more…