SHEILA - save the world

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Eleven

The Enigma is the book about the Enigma war between 1939 –1942 and the breaking of the Nazi code by Alan written by Andrew Hodges. Everything that has to do with Alan’s intelligence, the technicalities of the Enigma cipher machine, the key to German communications in World War II and the Allied American control of the Atlantic, is here in this book

Alan Turing is the founder of Computer Science. He was a mathematician, philosopher, code breaker, strange visionary and gay man before his time. I’ve heard stories of Alan and how he saved the Allies from the Nazis in World War II with computer and artificial intelligence but never knew the in-depth of the story. But this right here, this classic biography of the founder of computer science, reissued on the centenary of his birth with substantial new preface by Andrew Hodges is the definite account of his extraordinary mind and life, a gripping story of mathematics, computers, cryptography and homosexual persecution.

And this book “The Enigma” where I will know the very beginning of computer, the history of mathematics, the Enigma cipher machine and World War II, is said to capture both the inner mind and outer drama of Alan Turing’s life. And whose inner mind would I want to capture if not the very father of computer? I smile at that thought.

I’ve searched for it for so long and even requested our HS to get us one in the school library but he promised and never did. Until Jade told me that one of her aunt, a Professor in Science has it and promised to get it for me when next she visited, and now, it’s here staring in my face. I snatch it from her happily and admire it, and I let myself slip into the anxiety of finally having the book.

One thing I don’t understand is, if Alan did all these, I mean saved us in World War II, why is there no word for it, no book about it these except this one book. Why did he not get a medal for it? Why was he not appreciated the way he’s supposed to? He committed suicide. Why would the world lead a great man like him to commit suicide? I’m sure many don’t even know about him, I mean what the hell… the father of computer not known? I understand he was a gay man, and homosexuality was frowned at then, could it be the reason for it? That’s crazy. Although, a statement of apology was made by the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown on September 10, 2009 - “a quiet mathematician, whose unique contribution helped to turn the tide of war, horrifying that he was treated so inhumanely”. That’s one hell of an apology I would say. Well, I hope I will get all my answers in this book staring at my face and of course know more about the very beginning of computer.

The feeling is so good. Every other thing in the room becomes nothing to me, though I manage to see my mom smiling.

‘How is Ted?’ Grace asks mom who is lost in looking at her happy daughter.

Mom startles, ‘oh, he’s fine; he went out for some things.’

‘I hope she’s better now.’

‘Yes she is, Brad just wants to observe her for some days.’

‘Well, this is your office, so you can work whenever you’re needed.’

‘Yes, but they are giving me time to take care of her.’

‘Oh that’s humane of them.’ Grace smiles, ‘they’ve got no choice anyways.’

My mom smiles.

It’s my mom’s hospital but she never acts like the owner but a worker in it.

‘Sheila, will you put the book down for a minute, we are still here,’ Jade says.

Anoma waves her away, ‘let her be, you know how she is with books and you brought it anyways, so why complain?’

‘She wanted it, the least I could do is help her get it.’

‘Well I’m sure she’s grateful, right Sheila?’

I smile at them, ‘thank you Jade.’ Now, I smile with them too as I’ve gotten used to them.

’See?’Anoma nods up at Jade.

‘HS was going to come yesterday, did you see him?’ Boyle asks.

I furrow, ‘no.’

‘Oh, he came; it skipped my mind. He came with some teachers but you were asleep and they didn’t want to wake you,’ mom cuts in.

‘Mom.’

‘I’m sorry,’ she squeezed her face like a baby and my friends giggle at that.

’Any other ‘it skipped my mind’ I need to know?’

‘She came here before too,’ she’s referring to Grace.

‘Yeah you told me that.’

‘And the McCarthys too.’

‘Uh huh, you told me that too; and I’m hungry right now.’

Before mom can say anything,

‘Jade,’ Boyle calls.

‘Here, will you eat the chocs we brought you?’ Jade brings out a package of chocolates and gives me.

Mom looks at them and smiles, ‘chocs is not for hunger,’ she collects the pack from me. ‘But don’t worry, I will make sure she has it—later.’ She smiles at my friends and put it on the table and she starts to serve my food.

‘You will join me right?’ I look at my friends and before they could give an answer I made sure the answer is not negative, ‘there is no room for no here.’

They smile.

‘But I just had something,’ Anoma argues.

‘Then you’ll have something else. I’m sure what you had is not what we are having now.’

‘How can you be so sure?’

‘What did you have?’

‘Chips and chicken.’

We all look at what mom is serving.

‘Rice, see? I told you,’ I stare at Anoma. ‘Mom you think this bed is strong for all of us to sit in?’

‘I don’t know GRE.’

I look at her instantly and my friends laugh.

‘No way you just called me that.’

‘But I guess we won’t know until you’ve tried,’ mom says, ignoring my statement.

‘You want me to get Brad to add more seats to the dining or something for you guys?’ Grace asks.

‘Please do,’ mom pleads as she dishes us our meal.

Grace leaves for Brad. And I put the book beside my pillow.

Clyde comes to sit in bed with me, ‘you think you should read that here?’ looking at the book and me.

I look at mom immediately but luckily for me, it seems she didn’t hear him then I look at Clyde and he understands. He keeps his gaze on the book for seconds like he’s thinking of something then he looks at me. I could see his eyes filled with concerns for me. We gaze at each other until mom interrupts.

‘How about you guys have this before Grace comes back?’

She gives us a cup of juice each and we all collect it with words of appreciation.

‘Thanks Dr Blyds.’

‘You’re welcome,’ mom says smiling.

It’s been hours since they left. I sit in bed reading the book while my parents chat. I’ve been reading for hours and now I need my rest. I close it and put it beside my pillow and lay my back down. Brad enters.

‘Hey guys.’

‘Brad,’ mom smiles.

Brad looks at mom, ’Thelma, you need to rest, you look pale. Sheila is okay now, you need to go home and have a good rest please.

My mom nods slowly, ‘I will.’ probably to get Uncle Brad off her back because I know her too well that she is not going anywhere unless I come with her and Uncle Brad is not ready to let me off his hook.

Brad’s eyes catch the book beside my pillow and he frowns, ‘what’s that?’

‘Oh that, a book her friends brought for her,’ mom says with smiles.

‘I know it’s a book, but what’s it doing here?’

Now I know where he’s going, I look at him with my meek eyes. He looks at me and ignores whatever eyes I gave him and faces my parents.

‘You’re letting her read that? What part of don’t let her stress herself do you not understand?’

‘This place is too boring for her, so we figured that will keep her busy,’ dad explains.

‘Why don’t you let me figure things here? Do you love her, do you love her at all!’ Brad snaps.

I’ve never seen him this angry and that scares me.

‘Brad!’ mom cautions in a sharp tone.

That hurt my parents but Brad doesn’t care.

‘I told you no stress for her, you think that a joke! It is her life on the line here; her life!’ Brad looks at me and changes immediately like he wasn’t the one that just yelled at my parents.

‘Honey, beauty,’ he comes to me and fondles my hair, ‘you’re bored, reason why a TV is here, just switch it on okay? And if you don’t want TV programs, I will get you lots of DVDs, huh?’ I nod and he smiles, ‘good girl. Now this is not for you,’ he snatches the book from my pillow side, looked at my parents with an angry face and dashed out of the room.

Everywhere goes quiet. I look at my parents and they look at me and away.

It still hasn’t posed a threat but we are doing all we can to solve this issue; I hope you can understand…

I wake to a voice from the Television, the voice is familiar and I wonder in thoughts. That is Jack Romanoff’s voice. I shift in my bed to see the TV. It’s Jack. I look at my parents; mom is asleep on the couch with her head on dad’s shoulder. Dad is watching TV.

‘Dad, you should take mom home; she looks tired.’

‘You know better darling.’

I firm my lips and nod, it’s true I know better but she looks so pale and tired. She should be the one getting treated right now, not me.

‘Don’t worry she will be fine,’ dad assures.

I look at him then at the TV.

‘What do you think they are talking about?’

‘Some object they found in space surrounding our planet.’

I raise my brows, ‘asteroids?’

He shrugs, ‘I don’t know but I don’t think so.’

‘They’ve been talking about that for months now.’

‘Yea.’

‘You think it’s not posing any threat like he claimed?’

‘I don’t know but he sure is not telling everything. These scientists don’t say everything, they never tell everything,’ dad concludes.

I look at Jack’s eyes and see it again; something I still can’t figure out but dad is definitely right, he’s not telling everything. But what is it he’s not telling?

We are back at home and everything is back to normal. Mom is having enough rest and she is back being herself; no more paleness. And we have enough maids in the house to do everything now. The kitchen alone is being handled by two cooks, and then the house cleaning, compound, clothes and everywhere and things that needs taking care of has its own hand to do that.

The house for once in something that looks like a lifetime is now full and lively as the keepers are jovial and lively to be with. I’ve never experienced a life like this since I knew this house. And my parents have told Sean about me and my attacks. With all the changes in the house, they had no choice but to tell him. He was shocked and angry they kept him in the dark but he forgave them sooner.

I walk into the kitchen in the evening to see the cooks busy even after we had lunch.

‘What are you doing?’ I ask.

‘Sheila, that’s an obvious one,’ Zeta smiles. She is cutting vegetable while Pamela is doing some unnecessary cleaning.

‘Yes I know you are cutting veg and she is doing some unnecessary cleaning which I don’t understand why. That place is more than clean; I’ve seen you clean that place four times today already. Are we eating anything veg this evening?’

Pamela smiles, ‘you think so but hygiene is important to healthy living.’

‘Yes I know but that place is more than cleean,’ I stressed. ‘Must you just work?’

‘No.’

I look at Zeta, ‘so are we eating anything veg this evening?’

‘No.’

‘So why is this necessary?’ I stretched my hand to the veg she’s cutting.

She shrugs with a smile.

’Tell me something, you work from morning till night in this kitchen without stepping out or breaking. What is it exactly you do ‘cos I don’t understand? Before you got here, mom didn’t stay in the kitchen all day and everything was perfect. So what exactly keeps you so busy in the same kitchen?’

‘There’s more mouth to feed,’ Zeta replies.

‘Yes but you just need to add more to the measurement not sleep, dine and ease yourself in the kitchen, like that isn’t necessary,’ I point to the table tiles Pamela is cleaning, ‘you can already see your teeth in that.’

Pamela laughs, ‘we don’t do all that.’

‘Anyway, I’m off to get some fresh air in the garden, anyone care to join me?’

They look at me in amazement.

‘Seriously? This is what all this is all about?’ Zeta chuckles, ‘you’ve got to be kidding me.’

Pamela laughs and I can’t help but to smile too though they don’t see.

‘Yes; anyone?’

‘I’m still busy, so I can’t,’ Zeta replies.

Pamela drops the rag she’s cleaning with ‘you know what? I’m in; let’s go.’

‘Yeah! That’s what I’m talking about.’ I say happily.

They both smile looking at me.

‘Go ahead, I will join you guys later.’ Zeta says.

I walk towards her, ‘should I just help you with that so it would be quicker?’

‘No!’ she yells.

I jolt and stop at the yell. She sees that and comports herself.

‘I mean, I can’t let you do that. Your parents will kill me,’ she smiles at me, ‘just go ahead I will join you soon.’

‘Okay,’ I say softly.

We start to walk out of the kitchen quietly and I look back at her. That was a hell of a scream; over what? Yes my parents don’t want me to do anything but they sure won’t kill her. That was too much if you ask me. I wonder what kind of world I’m in now. We leave the kitchen.

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