My Muslims, Part IV
On the designated evening I went to the side door of the Barak houshold and rang the bell. They invited me into the living room, a temporary place to keep guests like me who arrived early I surmised. I talked with the kids who kept me company in the living room. They all went to public school and seemed to like it. The children in the honors classes held diversity meetings so that they could learn about each other, their ethnic backgrounds and religions. From what the children told me I came to realize the Quran and the Bible are very much alike in their stories and parables. At 9 o’clock, a big van pulled up to the house. The kids jumped up to the window and here came all the other women who were coming to the party. I was, it seemed, an hour early. Didn’t they say 8 o’clock?
We all trooped down to a beautiful finished basement with a wet bar and no alcohol of course. I was given a chair ostensibly because of my big black boot. All the other ladies sat on lovely embroidered pillows on the floor with their legs crossed in front of them. They leaned against the basement wall. Each one of them, before they sat down extended their hand in greeting, as-salamu-alakum, A couple of them even kissed me. I thought, “Oh thank goodness that they have given me a chair. Even if I hadn’t had a big, black boot on, I would have never been able to sit by crossing my ankles slightly behind and lowering myself to the ground.”
As I sat and looked around at the women and the young girls, I noticed a couple of women with babies in their laps; boys who were probably young enough to stay with the women, and the teenage girls gathered closely, giggling and talking quietly. Periodically they laughed out loud. The women were dressed in beautifully decorated loose tunics and pants. A cacophony of color with gold and silver discs sewn into the fabric. Noisy jewelry around their necks and wrists. As I sat there I compared what I was wearing (black pants, white shirt, brown jacket) to their clothes. “What a dull shlub I look!” I thought.
At 10:30 I excused myself and said I had to get home. They were surprised that I was leaving so early and without having had anything to eat or drink. My husband, Vinny, was home, I explained, and I was unused to being out at night without him. Malala’s mother said “I will send over some food in a little while. I don’t want you to miss it.” I demurred, but she insisted.
The food was delicious and my husband and I ate it right then: basmati rice, chicken kabobs with mild curry, some dumplings. I hoped I hadn’t insulted anyone for leaving so early. The following day I visited my muslims again and to thank them very much and return the platter.