Summary: Chapter 3
Nadia and Saeed both rely on their cellphones. Saeed limits his internet time on his phone to an hour per day and uses it only to communicate, navigate, look up star maps, and take photos. However, even within this parameter, the phone allows him to connect to Nadia as they send each other photos and texts. They feel themselves becoming more intimate with each other even though they haven’t yet kissed.
Nadia doesn’t limit her cellphone usage. Although she rarely posts on social media herself, reading through others’ feeds allows her to feel close to the rest of the world. The virtual world offers more excitement and safety than the real world of the city.
Nadia uses the internet to procure psychedelic mushrooms for a date with Saeed using a cash-on-delivery courier service. The narrator notes that the man who runs this trade in illegal mushrooms will be executed in a few months. A man aggressively yells at Nadia that she’s obscene for riding on a motorcycle. She worries he’ll attack her, but she manages to speed off when the traffic light changes.
The next day, the mushrooms arrive at Nadia’s office. Work gets interrupted by the news that a militant group has taken over the stock exchange. Everyone watches the television for updates. The militants eventually declare victory. Nadia and Saeed wonder whether to postpone their date but decide to go ahead and meet up when the government doesn’t impose a curfew.
Saeed uses his family car to drive to Nadia’s. Nadia has placed a cushion out on her terrace, and they sit together. She asks Saeed whether he wants to try psychedelic mushrooms. It takes a moment for the mushrooms to take effect, but when they do, Saeed feels overcome with a sense of wonder. He thinks lovingly of his parents, of peace, and of the whole world and thinks there would be no war if everyone could feel how he feels at that moment. When Saeed and Nadia return to their senses, they kiss. It’s dawn, and they have to go inside lest someone see them together. When Saeed looks at his phone, he sees multiple missed calls from his panicked parents. They are both relieved and furious on his return.
Meanwhile, in San Diego, California, an old Navy veteran watches a group of young officers secure an area. He feels kinship with them, but one of the officers asks him to move along. The old man asks the officer whether the intruders are Muslim or Mexican, but the officer cannot answer. The old man asks if he can help but instantly feels like a child for asking. The officer asks if the old man has relatives he can stay with. The old man realizes he doesn’t know where he should go.
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