Life in Dhaka had made Emil quite used to abrupt ends. Like the abrupt end to the workweek because of a sudden hartal or the abrupt end to a peaceful walk late at night because the cops flashed a flashlight straight at your face and said that they were going to pat you down because…well, because you were there and they were there and you might at as well get it over with. It happened.
Going by what Zara told him, Emil realized he had less than a week to get everything in order before evacuation. Years of maintaining his cover with Proverbial Advertising while working for Zara, years of passing inflated data back home to Zara Advertising, years of collecting multiple paychecks, Emil had built a good life for him with the focus group and now, he had less than a week to leave it all behind. Truth be told, he had always been ready to evacuate on a few hours’ notice, and another truth be told, Zara Advertising had paid him exorbitantly for the task, but all the truths being told in the world could not make up for the inconvenience. Emil, maintaining the position of his head resting on his desktop, his lower back beginning to cramp, began going through his evacuation plan in his head.
He had a three-person Teleportation Device (TeleDev)[i], manufactured by GOEverywhere (or GOE for short), back home and a smaller on-the-go one-person TeleDev stowed away at office as a precautionary measure. How he managed to get the TeleDev in his office without arousing suspicion should ideally call for a funny anecdote, but the reality is not only not very funny, it is not funny at all, and to be honest, it is not even much of an anecdote so much as it is a statement – he arrived at work early one morning before everyone else and brought it in with him.
Emil went through his evacuation plan in his head and checked out that everything was in order. He felt restless. And hungry too, but mostly restless. He decided to try and address at least one of his irritations. He checked the office refrigerator – which is the universal sign of both hunger and restlessness. Neither was satiated. The refrigerator had butter, tomato ketchup (with the consistency of tomato puree), some rotten tomatoes, an empty skillet for some reason, two half-used candles, and a half empty bottle of cough-syrup.
He checked the freezer.
Ice and a cauliflower.
He made himself coffee in the kitchen.
It was not very good.
Hey, can I come over later tonight? Will you be home? Emil received another text. Sania double checking their plan, he assumed. Sure, you can. He replied.
It was almost 3:00PM when everyone came back from their lunch-break, no doubt delayed by the rain and not for any other reasons. They did not find Emil in the office. A little snooping around from Shaheen bhai unearthed an open tab on his browser for a recipe about some hearty winter-dish, cauliflower cooked in freshly made tomato puree and butter. They also found an unholy mess in the kitchen.
Emil had gone out for a walk. Towards home. The walk helped with his restlessness, in spite of the slight drizzle, in spite of the twenty men who bent down and presented their posterior to him as he passed them by.
[i] One of the unique features of TeleDevs was their appearances, which was made to ape a simple rug. The rationale behind this was twofold. First, convenience, as in one may simply leave their TeleDev lying around anywhere after use instead of having to pack it up and stow it away after every use; a tasteful rug goes everywhere, does it not?
Second, any TeleDev strategically placed outside the front door allowed the owner to remotely zap unwanted house guests away to a location as far away as desired. With enough vigilance, it was even possible to zap, right into one’s living room, those pesky neighborhood kids who made it a game to ring the doorbell and running away.