"This is a happy time of the Harvest for one, it is complete devastation for someone else"

Bangladeshi Proverb

A perfect blue sky. A radiant, brightly orange sun appearing over the hills, with rays almost perceptively altering the DNA of every epithelial skin cell of each human that would dare to walk out into the open without covering up every square millimeter of his or her body.

Jamal Uddin Ahmed looked out of the dirty and dilapidated window in his tiny, 2x3 meter office at S.U.S.T, the Shajalal University of Science and Technology that also served him as his living- and bedroom. To the south, he could see the dried out bed of the river Surma and between that the enormous makeshift camp where approximately two hundred thousand Bangladeshis had been trying to survive for the last two years. He turned east and looked at what used to be one of Bangladesh's most beautiful cities: Sylhet, the provincial capital in the north-east of this overpopulated country, was always considered to be a pleasant alternative to the overcrowded slums of Dakha and Chittagong and the environmental disaster area that was the Ganges Delta. All this changed 2 years ago in 2048, when a combination of freak flood and rising global sea levels finally wiped the remaining inhabited strands of land of the lower Ganges delta from the face of the troubled planet, taking Chittagong with it. On the 2nd of April 2048, nearly 6 million humans lost their lives in Bangladesh alone, displacing another 5 million, now without a home or the soil that their home once stood on. Since then a wave of humanity pushed further and further north, and Sylhet was just one of a dozen of northern cities that was flooded with the desperate and displaced.

He felt a pinge of guilt: after it became apparent that the real estate market in Bangladesh's north would explode, he sold his modest 1 bedroom appartment in the centre of Sylhet to a family that survived the wet disaster in Chittagong with a 400 percent markup. The Dean of the School of Applied Sciences and Technology, realising that he needed to speedily develop some creative ideas if he wanted to keep his staff, allowed Jamal to move into his small office in the fourth floor of the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering where, in between his books and folders and piles of paper there was a small stove, a rolled up sleeping bag and a tiny fridge, mainly stocked with imported Chinese instant noodles and some crumpled oranges that he kept for a special occasion. The considerable profit he made from the sale of his flat where safely stacked away on a savings account of a British bank.

Jamal Uddin Ahmed until very recently had always considered himself as exceptionally lucky: Born 2020 into a middle class family in Dhaka, he bluffed himself reasonably well through high-school. As University seemed to be riddled with pompous baffoons and eggheads, he preferred to enrol for four years in the Bangladeshi army as an aircraft mechanic, helping to maintain the force's 2 remaining Super Hercules C-130J. The rusty 25 year old pack horses were a delight to look after, and he never again felt so fulfilled and happy as when he was squeezed head down in the bowels of the Hercules's landing gear, lubricating joints and soldering cracks. These four grease filled years kindled some interest in all things mechanical, and with the financial support and encouragement of his parents he applied for a place in London's Imperial College's Department of Engineering, which, to his great surprise, accepted him. His father's brother, a successful owner of a chain of 'Indian' restaurants in the North of London, was delighted that his nephew had been accepted at such a prestigious institution and let him use a small flat over one of his restaurants in Walthamstow. There he would study during the day and in the evening work in his uncle's restaurant as a kitchen hand to add some sorely needed cash to his tiny allowance. After 4 years that mainly seemed to consist of studying mathematics and physics and the ever present smell of fenugreek, he passed his Masters of Engineering with honours and was able to get a grant to study for another year for a MSC in environmental engineering. Finally fascinated by an academic subject, these twelve months passed quickly, and armed with an MEng and a MSC from one of Britain's best universities, he applied for a post as assistant lecturer at Sylhet's Shahjalal University of Science and Technology. Happy to get out of the self-inflicted poverty of student life in London, he was looking forward to earn a living for the first time in 5 years, some quality of life, finishing his Ph.D. and maybe even finally start meeting women.

Aussie rules | Qaqortoq: Chapter I | Qaqortoq: Chapter II