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: My Wife, Their Sister :

an excerpt by Robert A. Rosenstone


Only after the ceremony did I learn that when you marry a Muslim woman she remains married to her brothers as well – about half a billion of them. This bit of knowledge became evident on our travels to lands where Muslims and Jews live or once lived together in close proximity, but the first lesson came in London’s Euston Station after we drag three large suitcases off a train and I go to search for a luggage cart while Aisha stands in the crowded concourse, guarding the bags. A middle aged Pakistani man in a uniform that seems to connect him to the station sidles up to her and asks: Can I help you, sister?

I return with a cart to see a dark man, bent painfully low beneath the weight of our suitcases, leading Aisha towards and then down a steep staircase to the lower level of the station, then out along a platform to distant taxi stands. I draw close, thinking perhaps I should help him with his burden, but Aisha looks over her shoulder and, her right hand palm towards me, waves me off. She repeats the gesture when I draw near and put my hand on my wallet just as he lifts the bags into the trunk. Aisha smiles at him, says shukran, and gets into the cab. I jump in next to her and say: You’re not going to tip him?

Of course not. It would be an insult to tip your brother.



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