One evening, Saeed and Nadia go to meet with someone about the mysterious doors, dressed in accordance with the militants’ new rules. They carry a forged marriage certificate in case they are asked why they are walking together. Finally, they reach the ruins of a shopping center. Their contact, known only as “the agent,” explains that the doors are everywhere. It will take time to find one the militants haven’t found first. He takes their money. Saeed and Nadia don’t know whether they have secured passage or fallen victim to a scam.

Meanwhile, in Dubai, a family enters a luxury apartment building. A security drone follows them, beaming their location to a group of uniformed men. The family seem in awe of their surroundings and don’t resist when they are arrested.

Outside Saeed’s apartment, surveillance drones and informants lurk everywhere. The lack of utilities means that the residents of his building have to go to the bathroom outdoors. One day, Saeed receives a letter from the agent telling them where to arrive and when. Saeed’s father shocks Saeed and Nadia by announcing he won’t go with them. He claims he doesn’t want to leave Saeed’s mother, but in reality, he knows his presence would make the journey more difficult for them. The narrator states that Saeed will never spend another night with his father.

Saeed’s father asks Nadia to promise not to leave Saeed until he is safe. Nadia promises without hesitation because she hasn’t ever thought of leaving Saeed. However, she feels that in leaving Saeed’s father, they are abandoning him to die.

Analysis: Chapter 5

The constant surveillance under the militant regime erodes all sense of privacy, creating an atmosphere of fear and paranoia. Saeed and Nadia prepare a forged marriage certificate because even walking down the street together invites scrutiny. The random searches mean Nadia cannot enjoy the records she saves from her flat because even Saeed’s apartment can no longer truly be considered private. Additionally, the juxtaposition of the discussion of constant surveillance outdoors and the description of how citizens must go to the bathroom outside creates a disturbing image of the effect of surveillance. Although going to the bathroom carries no shame, we do consider it something private in deference to human modesty and dignity. Here, the militants have created a situation where people have no choice but to do a private act while vulnerable to surveillance. This reality illustrates how constant surveillance inherently undermines people’s rights because privacy affords people dignity. The bathroom situation also metaphorically demonstrates the intrusive nature of the militant’s regime, in which not even the most private act is free from scrutiny. 

Saeed and Nadia cope with the fear and violence around them by clinging to small, everyday means of comfort. Perhaps most clearly, after the horrific murder of their upstairs neighbors, Saeed breaks his vow to be chaste in his parents’ house and has sexual contact with Nadia, relying on pleasure to distract from horror. As before, intimacy functions a way to distract from very real mortal peril. However, objects can also confer a sense of comfort and peace. Despite the very real danger, Nadia retrieves her records and player simply because she likes them, and, implicitly, having them makes her feel more at home. Saeed’s father smiles when Nadia brings home her lemon tree because it’s colorful and alive. We see a similar principle exaggerated through the refugee family’s awe in Dubai. Although they should focus on finding safety and shelter, the beauty and luxury of the city overwhelms their sense of self-preservation and gives them a false sense of security. The characters cling to these comforts because, like the doors, they have the power to transport people to safety, albeit only mentally.