The other morning at breakfast, Amanda looked up from her newspaper and announced that the world was coming to an end.
“I really hope not,” Saffy muttered, her eyes still glued to her phone, one hand scrolling down the screen, and the other shoveling fried beehoon into her mouth. “I just lost one kilo after months of dieting and I need a bit more time to enjoy the sensation.”
From bitter experience, Amanda knew not to get sucked into that little conversational detour. She let a few moments pass, wisely judging when it was time to start again.
“I mean, look at this,” she went on, giving the newspaper a good rattle. “America is bugging everyone. Andy Murray just might win Wimbledon and Rupert Murdoch is about to be investigated for all sorts of things. Nineteen firefighters died fighting fire. Oh, and Kim Kardashian’s new baby is called North! What kind of parents would burden an innocent child with that kind of name?”
Saffy looked up from her phone.
“Wait. What? The baby is called North?”
“Yep, that’s what they say.”
“But…but the father is Kanye West?”
Saffy paused, her brain struggling to keep up. “So,” she said slowly, “the baby is called North West?”
Amanda sighed. “I know. Isn’t that the most stu…”
“What a brilliant name!” Saffy exclaimed. “I love it. The Americans are just so creative!”
Amanda later complained to Sharyn that sometimes it horrified her to think that she was breathing the same air as Saffy. “What if I’m breathing in stupid germs?”
“Aiyoh, where got stupid germs, one? You sure you got go to university?” Sharyn said, her entire body vibrating in astonishment at the quality of graduates from Harvard these days.
“You don’t know what it’s like, Sharyn,” Amanda said desperately. “The other day, she said she was convinced that someone was reading her emails and listening into her phone conversations.”
Sharyn was bug-eyed. “Aiyoh, she also, ah?”
Sharyn caught the look. “Ay, no joke, I think someone also read my email!”
When she came home, it was all Amanda could talk about. “Seriously, why would anyone be hacking her email? I can barely understand what she is saying half the time! Can you imagine trying to read one of her emails?”
Of course, Saffy doesn’t think it’s a laughing matter though I can’t help but wonder just how she knows her email is being hacked.
“It stands to reason. If the Americans are hacking into all those other governments servers, you think they’re not also hacking into the domestic servers?”
“Yes, but why would they hack into yours in particular?” I asked.
Saffy looked surprised. “Why wouldn’t they? I’m just as important a profile as your average KGB spy!” she said with conviction. “And I’m an innocuous middle-management flunky! They’re perfect covers for embedded spies! Like that couple in ‘The Americans’ or that hot Damien Lewis in ‘Homeland’!”
“Which are TV shows!” I said, desperately trying to keep up with this runaway train.
“Which I’m sure could just as easily be based on real life incidents,” Saffy insisted.
Amanda says that even if it is true that Saffy and Sharyn’s email accounts are being hacked into by some unknown government agency, so what? “Have you seen some of the emails Saffy sends me on a daily basis?” she asked. “This morning, she sent me a picture of Ronaldo and asked why his skin was such a revolting shade of orange. Good luck to the CIA trying to decode that secret message!”
All of which has got me thinking about what the CIA would make of my emails, most of which involve me chatting to PR ladies about lunch, hotels, restaurants and other frivolous bits of gossip. Maybe they would think we were really transmitting messages about drop-offs and secret meetings in hotel lobbies. Maybe when they read my email about the delicious Peking Duck at Imperial Treasure, they think I’m talking about meeting a secret agent to hand over classified documents about Singapore’s deep space programme.
Amanda says if this is not a sure sign that the world is coming to an end, she doesn’t know what is. “We are complete nonentities! Nobody cares about our emails!” she said this morning.
“Don’t be so sure,” Saffy said darkly. “People get accused of espionage all the time!”
“All the time?” Amanda challenged.
“Of course they do. You just don’t hear about it. It’s all kept very hush-hush and secret. They throw you into jail and tell all your friends you’ve migrated!”
Amanda says it wouldn’t be such a tragedy if Saffy were to suddenly migrate.