== 2064: Soldner Homes
Ashok shook his head. “I don’t have time to accompany you shopping. I’ve got work to do.”
“You can’t expect me to venture out into this place all by myself – it’s so big. I’ll get lost, and -”
“Don’t go by yourself. Go with Deepti or Shakti or one of the other wives.”
Rani pouted, something Ashok, for the life of him, couldn’t understand. She was a calm and sensible woman. She never put on this kind of drama back in Lucknow. What was going on with her?
He thought for a moment, trying to figure out how to get the information out of her. Finally he came up with a tactic that he thought might work. “Rani, you’re a calm and sensible woman. We never had this kind of drama back in Lucknow. What’s going on with you?”
Rani looked away, then back. “This place is different than I imagined.”
Ashok furrowed his eyebrows. “What are you talking about? This is the exact same apartment as the model you found online. You talked about it for months. Even the kitchen fixtures are the same! I don’t -”
She shook her head. “I don’t mean that. I mean Aristillus. It’s bigger – it’s more confusing. There’s – ” She searched for the word. “There’s tension in the air.”
“You’ve seen the news. The PKs are shooting down ships.”
At this Rani broke down. “I know! They could have shot ours. We could be dead right now.”
Ashok nodded, then reached out to her, and pulled her in tight. “I know. They could have. But they didn’t. We made it here. We’re OK. Our kids are OK.”
Rani leaned into him and shuddered.
After a long moment Ashok pulled back, but kept his hands on her shoulders. “Now, look. We’ve got everything we wanted. We’ve got a bigger apartment.”
“It cost twice what was advertised a week ago.”
“Shhh. Don’t worry. We can afford it. Remember: we’ve got everything we wanted. We’ve got a bigger apartment than we could have ever afforded in India. We’ve got good friends next door, and more good friends one hallway over. Before we were even out of the docks we had three people tell us about private schools for Aravind and Nandita. And I’ve even got a job. Rani, look at me.”
She pulled back, wiped tears from her eyes, then looked at him expectantly.
“Rani, we’ve been here for less than 24 hours. And we’ve got a home, we’ve got a job, and we’ve got friends all around us. Think about how much we have to be thankful for.”
Rani sniffled. “It’s not a real job, it’s a contract. You’re working out of our apartment. What kind of company doesn’t have proper offices?”
“I showed you their website. They’re involved in the Aristillus defense effort. All sorts of people are working out of their homes right now – this is an emergency. And at these rates, who cares if it’s contract work or a permanent job?” Ashok looked at the tracked robot that a courier had delivered two hours earlier. “This firm needs someone with expertise on sensors, and I’m a sensor expert.” He paused and tried to put a smile on his face. “Now, go next door and get Deepti or Shakti or someone and go shopping for all the housewares you need. I’m going to set up in the third bedroom and start working on this robot.”