Questioning

Part I

I sat awkwardly between two people on the train home. My shoulders tucked and my hands were resting on my knees. I longed to stretch my legs but before me were a herd of school children of whom I was afraid to look at, let alone to almost touch.

On my right was my fiancé of 9 months and one week. The wedding planning had recently become stagnant after we had disputed over every other detail. I imagined a small intimate wedding of perhaps 10 guests from each side in a converted barn with wooden tables, wholesome food and only to be lit by candlelight. He wanted 2 weddings – Hindu and Christian to represent both of our backgrounds, a party with an open bar and a stag do in Vegas of course.

It’s not that we can’t afford it. He’s a respected chef and I’m one of the chief editor at a major newspaper in London – the youngest editor, in fact, according to Reuters. His ideas of marriage were just different to mine. I already knew this, of course, as this was one of the topics which came up in conversation on our first date – or was it second? I can’t remember. Anyway, he had done some catering for some extravagant weddings during his teen years, which, I believe started his lifelong fantasy of seven-tiered multi-flavoured cakes, fireworks and the brides arrival in a helicopter (yes, he really suggested this).

We met at university, about 8 years ago now. He studied Law, presumably by ‘suggestion’ from his mother. I had only met her once, since she died just 3 weeks after her son graduated, but I presume she said something along the lines of:

‘Why don’t you get a degree and you can focus on your cooking after that’

A doctor herself, I always wondered what she must have thought after being told that her only son wanted to pursue a career as a restauranteur. I don’t know if she would have be proud, even today. I digress. 

My fiancé had put up a notice about wanting volunteers to taste test his new recipes. Of course, he was a complete stranger to me back then – much like everyone on campus, since I only left my dormitory to attend lectures. However, something sparked when I saw his notice and I found myself walking over to his dorm that afternoon. 

He lived in the building directly opposite to mine. It had a pool and a screening room. I remember, he smiled as he introduced himself to me as he met me on the ground floor. He was tall, had neatly trimmed hair, a prominent jawline and a growing stubble perhaps after three days on not shaving. He was wearing a white t-shirt which was carefully matched with the black jeans I saw underneath the apron that was wrapped around his waist.

‘Why did you go so early?’ I thought to myself. ‘He’s not even finished cooking yet’.

I don’t remember much from the conversation we had that evening, nor much of the meal but it was something along the lines of fried quail and sage butter. There was a glimpse in his eyes which oozed a certain charm that I cannot describe. I found myself returning to his kitchen every weekend before it became every day. He was my first ‘I love you’ and the first person I had ever truly embraced.

After graduating, we took our first holiday abroad to Vienna. We were on the famous ferris wheel when he asked me to move in with him – romantic, I know. You see, I was forced to move back in to my old bedroom in my parents’ home, since I had not yet gathered enough savings for a place of my own. My fiancé’s father, however, was the owner of a music label (the name of which I cannot disclose), and had gifted his son a car and a three bedroom apartment in London. 

I decided to move in 5 months after the funeral – it was best to give him some space at least. 

Over the years, we both established good portfolios in our chosen industries and eventually saved up enough to buy a house together in Hampstead Heath. Like traditions go, we went on a vacation just before the big move, and to my surprise he popped the big question:

“Tara, please make me the happiest man and do me the honour of becoming my wi- ”

‘Excuse me Madam, you’re sitting on my coat’ 

An angelic voice bought me out of my daydream. It was a woman on my left. 

Confronting an old friend

I recently met with a guy that I had dated for a while back when I was at school,  intending to ask him questions about the relationship we had. What I got from him was so personal that it made me reconsider everything about myself hence why I’ve been holding myself from writing this. This was 3 months ago:

It was a chaotic beginning to say the least. We had both arrived at opposite ends of the park and spent a good hour searching for each other. The butterflies were increasing by the minute as I checked my phone, only to receive a tonne of messages from him threatening to leave if I didn’t hurry up. I ignored them since I knew he wouldn’t have left until seeing me. I did find him, eventually, and he seemed to have calmed down from tone of his text messages, making me look like an idiot whilst I was profusely apologising to him. 

I felt safe under his presence, like I didn’t need to look after myself because I felt as if he was doing it for me. He was wearing his usual. Dark coloured jumper, jeans and the light-weight jacket with a sheen of lambency. I could’ve settled for the handshake but he went in for the hug. Just as well because the scent of his aftershave brought back moments of lust. Our relationship began during the school days. He says he noticed me in a maths class. One night, he finally plucked up the courage and messaged me with one of the most ridiculous pick up lines. Before this, I hadn’t even known of his existence. He told me he was drunk but I didn’t care, I liked him. I liked him because he noticed me. Nobody ever noticed me. As we walked under the bridges and along the emptying canals of East London, the sun was beginning to set but conversations only just beginning.

He told me how the failure of our relationship lay on faults of both of ours. Deep down, we both knew – know – that it was my fault. I continued to put him on a status above mine thinking he was far too good for me when the whole time, we were equal. Was it because he was white and that I belonged to an Asian minority? His confidence? Intelligence? Physique? All of this resulted to a feeling of anxiety and resentment in myself. He thought the relationship failed because of communication but really I had trouble communicating with myself. My mind, constantly competing with his gestures. He’s out with his friends today. Why aren’t I out with mine? Oh that’s right, I don’t have any. But he couldn’t know that. I put myself forward as an optimistic conversationalist which knowledge of politics and a tongue of witty sarcasm. He thought of me as a family girl, a vocal in the church choir, a giver. Really, I am all of those. But I failed with him. I gave him the right key to my heart but changed the locks just as he approached it. I was lost, broken, unfixable. All this I was realising during our meeting, all this he was completely oblivious to. All this he is still unaware of.

Turing’s Pardon.

Alan Turing was a code breaker who revolutionised artificial intelligent engineering during the second world war. There were only a small number of people who only knew of him and his work before Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal of him in the award winning film, ’The Imitation Game’. Turing was part of a team which set out to break the Enigma Code – a complex set of letters and numbers coded by German scientists which was used send secret messages to German U-boats in the battle of Atlantic during the second world war. U-boats would often disrupt the paths of containment ships which contained vital supplies for Great Britain. By breaking this code, Turing and his team were able to outsmart the U-boats which eventually led the allies to victory and pushed back the war by at least four years. 

In contrast to the victory, Turing’s unfortunate suicide was triggered at first by being found guilty of “gross indecency contrary to Section II of the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1885” on three attempts. Punished with a choice of either imprisonment or chemical castration, Turing was left with no choice but to ingest chemicals to “cure” his homosexuality. The idea was that the castration technique would turn him into a heterosexual by reducing his hormone levels. Turing was found dead in June of 1954 after intentionally eating an apple filled with cyanide. 

Almost 60 years later, in 2013, Turing was given a royal pardon by the queen – this was essentially an apology for the way in which he was brutally treated. This, of course, was supported by many important persons on a global scale. However, it also raised questions and thoughts about the type of small minded society that most Britons lived in. Those in the LGBT+ community often lived by keeping their identity a secret- or like Turing, marry a person of the opposite sex in order to remain ‘normal’ to the rest of society. 

During the war, there were many countries in which being homosexual was criminalised. However, in Germany, the LGBT community were especially segregated and went under the most merciless treatment. Both Great Britain and Germany were damaging communities and punishing homosexuals at extreme measures even though both countries were fighting each other. If both parties believed most truly in the same causes then was the war even that necessary? Additionally, it is a known fact that the person on the throne will pass all the laws. The Queen herself was coronated in 1953, Turing died in 1954 and homosexuality was legalised in 1967. Discarding all the circumstances, would it have been possible the homosexuality bill to be passed earlier, preventing Turing’s death anyway? 

There are many questions still being asked in which getting hold of an answer will merely seem impossible. Although, Turing’s work saved the lives of hundred and thousands of people, it was his identity that let him down in the end and he could not go on to contribute more to science due the simple fact that his sexual preference was not accepted in society. Changing laws does not necessarily change opinions. Everyone living in a small minded society cannot suddenly become more open to new ideas due to a passing of a bill. Yet following authority figures in order to bypass commotion only shows conformity and fear. Turing ignored the stigma placed upon his sexuality and came out honest and clean despite opinions and laws- this being a method we should all adapt. 

Source : The Daily Beast. (2018). The Castration of Alan Turing, Britain’s Code-Breaking WWII Hero. [online] Available at: https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-castration-of-alan-turing-britains-code-breaking-wwii-hero [Accessed 16 Oct. 2018].