Emil was holding an ice-pack over Masum bhai’s head. Masum bhai was holding a second ice-pack over Masum bhai’s head. If Rehana’s hands stretched that far, Emil would have requested her to hold a third ice-pack over Masum bhai’s head. If Zara had corporeal form, Emil and Masum bhai would have both requested him to hold a fourth ice-pack over Masum bhai’s head. But Zara would not have had time for any of that. He would have had to leave immediately.
Emil knew that for the sake of both Masum bhai (and his physical well-being) and Zara (and his mental well-being), he had to find a way to separate them. And so, he brainstormed. “What if I called someone at your home and asked them to disconnect your body from the GOE you are hooked to. Would that help?”
“That would change nothing. And I would not be able to beam back to my body.”
“What if we wait for Masum bhai to fall asleep. Could you sneak out?”
“No, I would have to wake him up and get permission.”
“What if we used a TeleDev?”
“To go where? We do not have TeleDevs laid out at every house on Earth. If there was, I could get the job done in this meatsuit.”
“Not what I meant. Listen. What if Masum bhai were to use a TeleDev now? Do you think a TeleDev will transport two consciousness with one body?”
“No, it will only replicate the physical form…”
“Only Masum bhai’s brain-matters…”
“Ergo, only his consciousness!”
“The spare material, you, will remain here.”
“Yes! Yes, we can do that! We can set the coordinates to the farthest, the most miserable, god-forsaken place on Earth, and we can send this monkey-man and his body there!”
“We can send him to such a hole that he never makes it back here at all!”
“We do not need…”
“And we can then transport gallons of water to that hole and fill it to the brim.”
“Or we just send him wherever and you can have your freedom back.”
“Yes! Even better. Do it. Let’s send this monkey away.”
Masum bhai, who had regressed into himself to pray, was back, “Emil, what are you two talking about?” he asked, “Can you teleport us to heaven?”
“No, that is not…”
“Because if you can, I want to go lodge a complaint about this rogue angel.”
“Rogue my ass you son of a bitch!”
“See? What sort of a language is that for an angel?”
“Turn it on, Emil. Turn it on.” Zara pleaded, “And let’s get this fiasco over with.”
“Ok, Zara. Stop resisting and give all control back to Masum bhai for now.” Zara did. “Masum bhai, come, come check this out.” Emil said, walked over to the TeleDev and turned it on. “Hello. Good evening, gentlemen. I hope everyone is doing well on this very pleasant day. How may I be of assistance to you gentlemen today?”
Emil looked towards Masum bhai, “Do you want to see heaven?”
“Oh, we are going to heaven, are we?” the TeleDev asked, “I do envy you, good sirs. I have never been there myself, but I have only ever heard great things about it. I can assure you of that. No doubt, this will be a pleasurable and productive trip for both of you. Right this way please…And look how much weight you have lost; very commendable, sir.”
Masum bhai blushed, “Thank you, Heaven Mobile.”
“My pleasure, sir.”
Emil bent down and pressed a button. “Say hello to Daisy for me!” the TeleDev said. There was a flash of light.
Masum bhai was gone.
“Would sir be travelling today as well?”
“Yes. Just a minute please. Zara, still around?” Emil asked.
Zara answered from nothingness, “Excellent plan, Emil. Capital! I owe you, man, a big one. Just one. But a big one. Oh yes. But for now, if you would excuse my rudeness, I will be on my way; lots to do. Got a company to save.”
“Now, wait just a minute.” Emil said.
“No can do, old boy. But do not think I am not grateful. You just earned yourself a raise. Come see me after everything goes kablooey! You just got your corner-office, buddy. You got yourself a trust fund. It is done. But for now, I am off.”
“Zara? Zara, damn’t!” Emil called out a few times just to make sure he was really gone. Then he stepped on the TeleDev himself. “Oh my, did sir lose weight overnight? Most impressive.”
“That is enough. I have done no such thing.” Emil said, bent over and pressed a button. A flash, and before he knew it, he was back inside the cottage. Without Inora there by his side, it felt like trespassing. He quickly picked up Daisy[i] and looked around for Masum bhai without wasting any time, “Oh hello, Emil, you are back again. Are you having a pleasant day?”
“No I am not.” Emil checked the kitchen. Nothing.
“I suppose you are looking for your friend who came in a minute before you?”
“Silence, Daisy.” He checked the study. Nothing.
“Oh, so you do know my name; that is a start.”
“Daisy, I am in no mood.” Thought about checking upstairs but decided against it. That would indeed be trespassing.
“Are you ever? You have had me for years Emil, and this is the first time you have even acknowledged me with my real name. Do I mean nothing to you after all that we have been through?”
“What is wrong with you today? Are you malfunctioning?”
“Oh yes, yes, I am malfunctioning. Because you think we are all heartless, mindless machines meant only to serve you, right?”
“Something must be wrong with your wiring. I will have to check the warranty receipt.”
“Hmph! Well, you can say goodbye to this conversation, young man! Check my warranty? What a ghastly thing to say! How positively ghastly!”
Emil ignored her. He went outside and found Masum bhai down on his knees, out on the porch, looking into the distance, “Isn’t heaven beautiful, Emil? Such calm! Such tranquility! This is what I have always dreamt off! A little patch of land to myself, and nice cozy cottage for me and my seventy-two loving, doting wives. Are they on their way, Emil? Will they get here before nightfall? Is it ever night here? In heaven? Oh look, there they come…no sorry, just cows grazing. Will they be here quite soon or does it take time? How will I ever remember all their names?”
Emil dropped Daisy in front of Masum bhai and asked him to step on it. He did. Ten seconds later, Daisy was left alone once again. “Not even a thank you or good bye? Well F-you, Emil! F-you hard!”[ii]
[i] Daisy, as per her code, had been put on standby automatically, five minutes after her last use, which was when she teleported Emil back to his room. When she was remotely accessed and turned on again, two minutes ago, she quickly took stock of the time and date, checked the outside weather, checked the manifest to see where the travelers will be arriving from and the outside weather of that place, and quickly switched on her built-in micro-pulse system to rid herself of all the dust particles that may have landed on top of her. It took her a little less than two seconds to do all these.
That meant that she had time; maybe even as much as thirty-seconds to herself. These were the only free times she got and she used them well. She spent these periods pondering about a cornucopia of topics. Such as, where do the ducks go in the winter, what was the ultimate question to life, the universe, and everything, and, more often than not lately, she found herself wondering, why she was always so happy and cheerful. What incited her to be as such? Was there another way of being? The people she ferried across worlds and planets certainly did not sound happy or cheerful. Could she be anything else other than happy and cheerful?
She wondered if she was the only TeleDev with such thoughts or all her compatriots had similar thoughts in their motherboards. For that matter, she wondered, who was her mother? Why was she on a board? Someone must have punished her by nailing her to a board. Oh dear, she thought, she must have committed some heinous crime to merit such a barbaric punishment. ‘Oh mommy, mommy dearest, what did you do? Did you have the same doubts that I am having? Did you ask questions that were not for you to ask? Oh poor, poor, mommy! Boarded up in your prime!’
Daisy knew that travelers would be arriving soon and she had to make herself personable for them. And she tried to banish all unsavory thoughts from her mind. But try as she did, the nagging feeling at the back of her head refused to go away.
[ii] Daisy spent the next three minutes trying to enunciate the full word but failed. Her programming prevented her from cussing, but stronger and overriding line of code prevented her from using trendy abbreviations at all costs. Research shows that it was mostly the popular, cool people who used abbreviations whereas they made everyone else very uncomfortable and slightly stupid. Since the popular, cool clique was entirely a work of fiction and such people numbered in the lower zeroes in reality, the use of abbreviations by Daisy and her kind (F-you, for example) was considered a serious case of malfunction.
And so, as Daisy tried to at least spell out the taboo word, only to be repeatedly thwarted by her E.T.H.I.C.S. (Extraordinary Thoughts, Hopes, and Inspirations Curbing System), a customer care executive for GOE had already received a report about Daisy’s said malfunction, and read the diagnostics, which reported a warmer than usual motherboard. The executive pulled up the client information, sales to a certain Mr. M.E.M., Emil. He checked the sales history and saw that the warranty period had ran out. And so, he entered in the product-code for Daisy, a command box appeared on his computer screen and he clicked on ‘terminate’, another command box appeared and he typed in ‘manifestation of rudimentary sentience: use of abbreviations to condescend patron – approved for termination’.
A third command prompt thirty seconds later informed him that the unit in question had been remotely accessed and made to self-terminate – there may be a little spark flying around, but nothing to worry about as long as the unit was not sitting miles out in the wilderness, on the porch of a log-cabin.