Treasured commander, I am sincerely obliged to receive your prompt communication. I completely understand and accept your explanation concerning the body you have chosen for me. I must admit, though, that I found your reasons to be strange at first. How could it help our mission for your chosen officer to be invisible? How could I interact with the local population to discover the intricate details of their lives if they could not see me?
After many hours of unspirited introspection, I decided it was time to leave the dwelling and venture out into this strange world. I would put to the test this peculiar notation. I would walk in the village and take careful observations about how, or indeed if, the population responded to me. I carried out this experiment the very next day.
Here are my results:
Time: 08.25am local time.
Interaction I: Turning right out of my dwelling, I observed a small group of humans who I judged to be old children. They wore similar black and white garments and had sacks on their backs. They stood beside a post which I recognised from my familiarisation materials to be a transport halt. As I approached, two of them moved slightly to allow me to pass but none of them looked up from their screens.
This was confusing. I assume that at least two of the children saw me, as they moved to one side, yet there was no social intercourse between us.
Interaction 2: A little further down the same road, I approached a male walking beside an animal I know to be a dog. They were tethered together. He nodded his head in my direction and mumbled a word that sounded like ‘morn.’ On reflection, I believe this to be an abbreviation of the common greeting ‘Good Morning.’
By the time I had registered this, it was too late to respond as neither of us ceased walking. I remain confused about how or whether I should have replied to him but I am wracked with regret in case he found me ill-mannered.
Interaction 3: I was debating internally these strange interactions when it became apparent that the road I was walking on terminated a little further on. However, I observed a small road leading off to the right, beside a large construction I believe to be a place of worship, so I crossed the road in order to explore further. A large, black vehicle approached me at great speed, narrowly avoiding colliding with me. I stepped back into the sharp foliage and the vehicle drove away. The driver was another male and he shouted, ‘stupid fucking old woman’ out of the window as he left.
Imagine, commander, if the vehicle had hit me. The body would have been damaged, beyond doubt. The whole mission would have been at risk and possibly terminated. Strange sensations flooded it, and it shook uncontrollably until I managed to return it to the dwelling and lie down. It took a great effort to control both the breathing and the cardiac system and I can only hope it has not caused any lasting damage.
It was only after many more hours that I was able to deliberate effectively on these issues. What had I discovered? Could I have been invisible when the vehicle nearly put a precocious end to our mission? But then the driver had shouted an angry and disreputable sentence at me, including the words ‘old woman,’ so he must have seen me at that point.
I decided to revisit some of my training and there, in the module on language, I found the illumination. Commander, I flagellated myself. How remiss of me to forget the tendency of this race to use language in such a dishevelled manner. When they say ‘women become invisible when they reach sixty,’ they do not mean that they disappear from view. No, it seems that they can be seen, indeed they are seen by others such as their families and friends and people who serve them in shops. The strange sentence attempts to comply that females of this age tend to blend into the background. They are not noticed, especially it seems, by males.
After I had reached the state of bliss occasioned by understanding, I realised that you were correct, my commander, as of course you are on every occasion. I will gladly accept the malfunctions of this body if, indeed, it will help our mission. I also accept, squeamishly, the need to communicate in their language.
Clearly this is an early stage of the mission and there is much still to be learned. However, I am relieved that the population appear to be able to see me tolerably well and I look forward to many more interactions with them.
Yours most sincerely,
Jane Brown (Mrs)