Chip caught her glance out of the corner of his eye, but he knew that to return her look would result in her certain death. After all he was an infidel in the presence of the Malik Amir’s family. A westerner, in Asia, making business dealings, Chip had made certain contacts which resulted his introduction to the Malik. Subsequently, he had been invited to dinner with the Malik, but hadn’t expected to be in the presence of all of his wives.
Her stare was in itself a dangerous act on her part, but probably could be passed as the curious examination of the odd looking man in her home.
Male servants served the dinner of mutton, cheeses, dried figs, and dates. They never looked at Chip in the eyes, and as he noted they never looked at the Malik above the waist. Their heads were always down and eyes directed away from the host and guests.
He ate in solitude, saying nothing to the man on his right. Although he was left handed, he had been instructed to never place his left hand on the table, or to show it in any way. The man on his right occasionally smiled and nodded to him as Chip clumsily worked his way through the meal.
After accepting the invitation the Malik had sent an instructor to his apartment. Chip knew never to discuss religion, not to mention Mohammed even if talking about American sports figures. Of course his left hand was unusable. He could not talk about the Malik’s family unless the Malik mentioned a son. It would be better for him only to listen. The instructor left a light robe for Chip to wear to the dinner. His parting words were, “enjoy yourself, eat heartily, the Malik invites only a few westerners into his home.”
Malik Amir waved his hand and dancers appeared in the room. Chip scarcely heard the music as he pretended to watch the dancers, but each time one passed near him he could see the stare of on of Malik’s wives.
The man on Chip’s right rose and the Malik sat in his place. “How do you like the dancers?”
Chip was startled. “Uh, I have never seen anything quite like it, the movements are beautiful.”
“Yes, they are. I took them to New York with me last year, and had many good complements.”
“Oh, I did not know that. I mean I did not know you were in New York last year. I assume on Business?”
Amir smiled. “Yes, and no. My family and I went to the Yankees and Red Sox baseball game.”
At last Chip had a common ground with the man across from him. “Really.” Chip sat a little straighter. “I enjoy baseball too. “
The Malik patted Chip on the Shoulder. “Good, my son is at New York University, I’ll have someone give you his number, you can get together sometime and go to a game.”
Chip nodded. “It would be my pleasure.” He knew that the offer was rare, and the Malik was allowing an infidel communication with his family.
As he was being driven to his apartment Chip asked his interpreter if the Malik’s offer was as important as he thought.
The interpreter laughed. “Yes, the Malik likes you. Apparently, you made none of the mistakes other westerners do when they visit him.”
Chip whispered, “I almost glanced at one of the wives. I think she was looking at me, but I kept my eyes on my food.”
“Oh, I didn’t know the wives would be there. That is rare. Yes, indeed, you did well.”
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