INDIANAPOLIS — Muhammed Siddeeq recently added a remarkable footnote to an already interesting life.
Siddeeq, a longtime Indianapolis math and science teacher, became a public figure when he agitated for an investigation into the hard-to-explain shooting death in 1987 of 16-year-old Michael Taylor in Indianapolis police custody (the police ruled it a suicide, even though Taylor was sitting handcuffed in the back of a police car).
Siddeeq also counseled a young and searching Andre Carson on Islam before Carson converted and went on to become the nation’s second Muslims to serve in Congress.
In the 1990s Siddeeq served as spiritual adviser to the boxer Mike Tyson during Tyson’s incarceration here following his rape conviction.
Now Siddeeq has had a weird thing happen to him. So weird that it ended up in “Ripley’s Believe it or Not!” — the yearbook the venerable weird-news aggregator publishes annually. The 2013 version came out last month.
Siddeeq received a letter that had been mailed to him in 1958. He was then a college student at California University of Pennsylvania. The letter was from his girlfriend who lived in Pittsburgh. “Love Forever, Vonnie,” she signed it, according to an earlier report in the Village Voice. “I still miss you as much as ever and love you a thousand times more.”
The letter wasn’t exactly revelatory. Siddeeq already knew how Vonnie felt — the two corresponded frequently. The feeling was mutual, too. He and Vonnie married in 1958. They had four children.
The letter reached Siddeeq in 2011, despite multiple address changes and even a name change. Siddeeq has been Siddeeq only since the late 1970s when he converted to Islam. Prior to that his name was Clark Moore.
It isn’t clear why the letter was so long in reaching him. Did the university misplace it? Was it bouncing around in some postman’s satchel all those years?
It doesn’t matter. It’s not a world record. Ripley’s researcher Edward Meyer can name seven longer-delayed pieces of mail.
Siddeeq and Vonnie didn’t make it. They divorced after eight years — bitterly, Siddeeq said.
The late love letter did accomplish one important thing, in Siddeeq’s view.
“For the first time the kids could see that their mother and I, at one time, had a good, loving relationship,” he said, “which is important for them to know.”