Thursday, 29 August 2013

A note from Kaleem

I am so pleased for you

Sweetheart, I have been reading your glog. I have watched your progress and I have been so happy that you are doing so well, and that you are reconciled with your family. I’m so glad that you are getting on so well with my grandmother as well.
 Oh, you’re breaking my heart. But this is right. This is the right thing to happen. I am so glad you have someone who can keep an eye out for you.
It’s great what you’re doing in the NIZ. Julien has a really important role there, too.  
I guess the Peace Child is doomed to be lonely.
I’m okay. I’m no longer on Terrestra, of course. I can’t say where I am, but it’s going okay.
Take care!

Day 106 3520 Julien

It’ definitely  got more interesting in the N.I.Z. On a personal level, I mean.
The woman who winked at me caught me at the end of the meeting. Rita’s her name. She asked if we might meet up. There were some things she wanted to talk to me about. I agreed to meet her that evening. She invited me to eat in her home.
Well, it was a real cosy evening. They still have some way to go in the N.I.Z, but they’re getting there and it’s all the better for being a little lower tech. She cooked some really delicious food, without the help of any Autochefs or kitchen robots and told me that she thought there was still much work to be done on the Terrestran attitude. The fear of disease and contact with other people was all tied up with why the Z Zone became the Z Zone.
“This problem will not really go away until the Terrestrans are really willing to communicate,” she said to me looking very seriously.
Well, we had a good chat. I told her all about Kaleem and his work.
“That young man sure has his work cut out,” she said. “I can quite understand as well why he wanted you away form all the danger. “
She gave me a big hug. I was fighting back the tears and there was a terrible lump in my throat. Every time I think I’ve got over him something comes up and I realise just how much I miss him.
“But, yes, I know, it must hurt a lot,” she said.
She really seemed to understand.
Well, I agreed to meet up with her again today. We went for a long walk thought the NIZ.I showed her where Kaleem and I used to live. The place was all locked up. But amazing changes are happening. Everywhere is being modernised. Though there are still lots of echoes of the old Z Zone, it is really getting more comfortable.  
Then we had an early dinner again. Rita and I seemed to get on really well. We could have been sisters. Or perhaps not. We get on too well for that.
“Look,” she said suddenly, looking very serious. “Can I come back with you to where you’re staying? There is something I really need to discuss with you in private.”
So, she came back to my place.
And then what a shock! She pulled her wig off and a membrane across her face.
“I’m sorry about this,” said a much deeper voice, “I really do have to speak to you.”
It still took me a minute to realise. But it was Julien standing there.
Well, I have to give it to him. He really does disguise himself well.
“Yes, they’ve sent me to the Zone,” he said. “I have to carry on from where Kaleem left off here. I have to do it as a woman. But there is something I have to let you know.” He took a deep breath. Then he took me in his arms.
“You do know, don’t you,” he continued. “That I’m madly in love with you. I want to look after you and comfort you. And I can’t bear it that you’re still so upset about Kaleem.”
I just let myself relax into him. It was so good to be held again and cherished.
Yes, I do think about Kaleem still, and I do feel sad that we’re not together. But I’m getting on with my life now.
“It’s not quite like that,” I managed to whisper.
“Oh you wonderful girl," he whispered, his voice all husky. He pulled me closer and I felt so at home.
It was me that started to kiss him. I did want this. It had been some time .Of course it was not going to be the same as with Kaleem, but I did want him. And he didn’t hesitate in kissing me back.
“I’d better go and get rid of Rita,” he said, making his way to my bathroom.
He didn’t take long and then he came back and we made love, three times.
At three o’clock in the morning he sighed and got up off the bed.
“I’ll have to go,” he said. “Can I see you again?”
“Of course,” I said. And I meant it.
Then he hugged me really tightly.  “Oh, you just don’t know how long I’ve dreamt of this.”
He was very serious for once. I like him like that. I like him the other way too.
It took him a good twenty minutes to get Rita back into action and then we had to sneak her out of the building.
But oh my goodness isn’t my life changing now? And what secrets we all have to keep now. I’m relying on you guys.   

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Day 101 3520 Talks

I got my marching orders today. I’m to go into the Zone and meet with their Chiefs. It’s interesting, actually, talking of their Chiefs. They don’t have a formal system like we do for selecting their leaders. They just wait and see who becomes a natural one. And all the time we were there, Kaleem and I, we never got to meet any of them, or really even know who they were. We did know that Narisja had been one when she was more lucid and that Ben-Mariah, the story-teller was much respected. He’s very frail now, but completely with it, unlike how poor Narisja was..
But anyway, today I went to an open meeting of N.I.Z.ers. Norman Handwood, the chief Chief, was in charge. He was quite an impressive man and very focussed. We talked about the problems of overpopulation that not having switch-off would cause.
“I don’t think we need to worry too much about that for this generation,” he said. “The damage can’t be repaired that quickly. Even with all the help form the Normal Zones, I’m guessing most people from here will die of natural causes long before switch-off time. Even the youngsters.”
I felt a really big lump in my throat. I’d really got to know some of those kids quite well.  
“But you are right,” he continued. “We do need to think about the future.”
One of the N.I.Z.ers suggested we should think of sending more colonies out to unpopulated planets.
“Well, it’s a thought,” said Norman. “But it might only be pushing the problem out further.”
“Change the Stopes programme?” suggested someone else. “Limit the number of births even more?”
“How?” asked Norman.
“Vet who can reproduce? Limit number of children per family?”
“Oh yes?” someone else answered angrily. “Switch-off isn’t the only problem. That would be just as bad. What do you want? Designer babies? Policing who can have children? That would wipe us out in one go.”
“We could be a bit less bothered about disease,” said one woman. “If we allowed disease back, but of course, still alleviate suffering, we could abandon switch-off for everyone.”
She caught my eye and winked.
No one seemed to know what to say after that. 
But it seems to me that that is just a great big mirror. Switch-off is all tied up with us wanting to be disease-free, which makes us strangers to all the other planets, and here we are dealing with the strangeness of the N.I.Z. it’s all so complicated.       

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Day 97 3520 My New Mission

What a day. My goodness, I’ve got my work cut out now. I met up with my supervisor today. It’s the first time we’ve had a private physical meet. It was three hours long, at that. She’s a funny woman, actually. Very smart, though. I mean both in the way she dresses and in the way she thinks. I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s not made Executive soon. But absolutely no sense of humour at all. Deadly serious all the time. She has the most extraordinary eyes, too. Very oval, very large and very green.
She must have caught me staring at her because she said. “No, I’m not wearing a lens. My eyes really are that colour.” They are so bright! Such an unusual colour at that.
Well, I did get used to her amd I do have to give it to her. She was very patient. She took me out to lunch at the New Park restaurant. You know, the one at the top of the new tour in that new extension to the Reality Park. It slowly revolves all of the time. The views over London Dock are amazing.
But here’s the thing: she wants me to work with the New Integrated Zones – that’s the new name of the Z Zone – on the Post-Switch-Off Contingency Plans. The idea is to try to make the Z Zoners see reason. As they get fitter and healthier we’ll have an aging population that will take up more and more of the resources.
“I’m not saying we need to convince them that no switch-off is all right,” she said. “But they do need to be aware of the problem. We need to think of alternative ways of managing it.“
Well, I wasn’t very happy at first. So she stayed with me for hours. We were two hours over our lunch and then we went for a long walk in the park.
“There will be creative solutions,” she said. “One that no one has thought of and we’re sure you’re the one to find it.”
Then she sopped walking and looked straight at me. Those eyes! I’m sure she could read every single thought in my head.
“You are so good with the New Integrated Zoners,” she said. “You are the only person we have who has lived amongst them .We’d be relying on you.”
So, at that point I really felt that I had to go along with her.
I went to see Louish afterwards. I needed some of her common sense.
She looked very thoughtful when I told her.
“Well,” she said. “If you can find a creative solution for them might it not be one that we could all use?”
I guess she’s right. And I guess she’s thinking about herself and Frazier.
Well, if I can, I will. But oh heck! I now know what Kaleem and Julien are going through.       

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Day 91 3520 New Energy

I really do feel liberated after getting in touch with my family again. That was a real breakthrough.
Rog actually came over today to look at some of the apartments near me. He’s going to move into studio one next week. I’ve promised Mum I’ll keep an eye on him and I’ve promised him I won’t fuss too much. 
I feel lighter now and more energised.
I went out with the girls tonight. It really was good. We had a great chat and some pink bubbling nectar – it was Beth’s birthday. One of the droid waiters brought us some sea-food tasters. It was fun and these new friends are good company.
I actually also feel more content with myself.
I even managed to think abut Kaleem without feeling any hurt. He had his reasons for not wanting us to go on and I think I understand them. I respect him for that and I respect him for what he is doing, whatever it might be. I also think what I’m doing is fine, and I’m doing my best.
Amazingly, too, my work went really well today. I had a load of assignments come through from the Z Zone kids. They have all done so well. It is so encouraging to see them work like that.
My supervisor said that she was pleased with my work. When this project is over, they’re going to get me on to something a little more complex, she said. Though she was very mysterious about what it involved.
Julien has been in touch as well. He’s really getting into what’s going on in the Women’s Movement.  Good for him – or should I say her? 
It really has been so good today.