It is a wonderful thing to be born into the right family, in the right place at the right time. Better still to appreciate it from an early age. Tamina opened her eyes after three days of confusion, and the first thing she saw was the kind face of a long haired Golden Retriever. It sniffled and licked her nose. The baby gurgled and giggled almost immediately. More faces appeared behind the dog and Tamina opened her newly discovered organs even wider, and smiled.
"Get down Sheba, you'll frighten the baby!" a soft kind voice murmured soothingly and continued "Hello Tamina - I'm your Mummy - and this is your Daddy!"
Another face appeared, different again from the first two.
"Hello Tamina - welcome to the World!" This voice was deeper - but gentle. After a bit more gurgling, giggling and smilingTamina fell asleep. It was a sleep that was to last for many years.
In Berchem, small village on the outskirts of Antwerpen in Belgium, there was a four storey terraced house in Saffier Straat. It ran parallel with a railway line which ran almost from the main line station at the town centre. There was a cellar, a ground floor, a first floor and a second floor early example of a loft conversion. The latter had been added in the late 1940s as part of the repair after a German bombing raid during World War II. The sole occupant of this house had lived in it for much of his life – apart from 15 years at Oxford University in England as a student. obtaining first many medical degrees and later turning to computer studies. His name was Gilbert Leblanc. He returned to his Native Country and set up a Phsychiatric consultancy on the ground floor in the mid nineteen eighties. His parents had the upper two floors and Gilbert the lower.
Gilbert had his own ideas about the possibilities of the computer. Whereas many of his contempories had been working towards what we now know as The Internet and the operation of remote control vehicles, space craft and the working out of problems that man couldn’t solve alone, Gilbert had other motivations.
This fine old refurbished house had been in his family for three generations. He inherited it and a lot of money from his parents when they died around the time of the Millenium. On receipt of this legacy Gilbert closed his ground floor consultancy office to the public became something of a DIY consultant to himself. First of all he brought all of his computer equipment up from the basement. to his now defunct surgery. He refreshed the damp coursing and fitted air conditioning throughout the building. This whole area was then scrubbed, whitewashed and sterilysed. Hospital bedding and equipment was installed in one of the two large rooms - and lounge furniture in the other. Gilbert did all of the work himself, and it took three and a half years.
Dr William Harding slammed an aggressive fist down on the table.
"I've told you for years, its a hopeless case. This child, well actually, adult is never going to recover. There is nothing there. We have to see to all of her toilet and ablutionary needs, and if she was to come out of her coma, she would literally be an eighteen year old baby. Even with the most dedicated care and education she would be in her mid thirties before she could function as an adult; and that is assuming she would awaken with all of her mental faculties. It would be kinder to end it for the poor creature now!"
A forlorn looking woman in her mid forties began to sob. The other two women and one man seated at the small conference table protested at the grossly unprofessional tirade in an animated fashion. The first woman recovered enough to plead.
"Please don't abandon my daughter. I'll get an evening job to pay for the increase in her care fees!"
"You're both working flat out as it is!" the other man placated her. "There just aren't enough hours in the day."
The meeting continued into the afternoon - with Mrs Tarantella refusing to give her consent to have Dr. Harding administer a termination injection. With tears in her eyes the miserable mother made her way back to her daughters room. Once there she telephoned her husband on his mobile. He was working on a building site so it was difficult to hear each other above the noise of drilling, hammering and shouting. As she spoke she looked at her teenaged child and remembered that first smile so long ago. The girl was beautiful without a doubt. Mrs T. had allowed Tamina's raven coloured hair to grow long and this was a fitting contrast to her perfect white complexion.
A care assistant entered the room and helped Mrs Tarentella change and bathe Tamina.
"Could you fetch me a wheelchair please? I'd like to take my daughter out for a walk in the grounds."
It was a perfect day to be outside. The chill of Winter was over and it was a mild and sunny May morning. Mother and daughter went out of the main gate and headed towards the shopping area.
This was a rural village, and the High Street was quaintly old fashioned. It bore no resemblence at all to the Malls & shopping Precincts that seem to spring up every time a few acres of land become available for development.
This was an excursion that was a regular occurrence throughout the year, the hope being that the weather would stimulate and stir Tamina. Sadly time was running out.
The other pedestrians were used to seeing the Tarantellas out every day, and there was very little staring as they weaved their way along the pavement. Just past the hairdressing salon was another gateway. On the other side of this one was the park. Oh the glorious park. Away from the confines of the hospital Mrs Tarrantell could rest the wheelchair next to a bench by the childrens' play area. This was a school day, but a few toddlers were playing with their doting mums looking on. About a hundred yards away the groundsman was inspecting a grassed area he had just cut on his mini tractor. Birds were fluttering and singing - and a young spaniel was racing around and around - having just been let off his lead. A little boy fell from a climbing frame and Mrs T rushed forward at the same time as the boys mother. There was a bizarre, muffled scream and Mrs T looked back to see the spaniel sitting on Taminas lap, licking her face furiously. Tamina was making gurgling sounds using her arms shielding her eyes from the sunlight. The dogs owner dragged the dog away, apologising profusely. Mrs Tarentalla could not hear any of it. She covered her daughters eyes as they blinked, unable to stay open after eighteen years years of inactivity. Tamina's arms had also collapsed after their initial reflex action. It was a triumphant Maria Tarantella who wheeled her daughter back to the hospital.
"This changes everything!" she thought aloud.
Andy Tarantella drove to The Cedars Nursing Home on two wheels. He had longed for this news for so many years, and now that the day had finally come he was finding it really hard to concentrate on what it really meant. He knew there would be tough times ahead but at last Tamina, Maria and he were at the beginning of some sort of road. He was surprised to find photographers and reporters at the gate. The security man recognised him and waved him through. When Andy set foot in the room that had been his daughter's home for so long, she was lying on her back blinking in the half light. Doctor Harding was in a more positive state of mind now feeling her arms and legs whilst a nurse wrote his findings on a chart.
"Mr and Mrs Tarrantella, I have some special equipment arriving tomorrow which is designed to awaken and develop dormant muscles and sinews. In short they will prepare Tamina for supporting her weight and eventually walking."
The Doctor was so excited that he didn't realise that it was the first time in eighteen years that he had ever called Tamina by her actual name.
"What can we do?" asked Maria.
"Cast your minds back to that day when she first opened her eyes all those years ago. Carry on from there I suppose. What you have here is a grown up child."
"The first thing that she ever saw was our old Retriever Sheba. How Ironic that it was a dog that started the ball rolling again." Andy stopped in mid sentence "What if she driftts back?"
"That is exactly why we need to start stimulating straight away."
Maria was already at her daughter's side.
"Hello again Tamina. I'm your Mummy - and this is your Daddy."
Gilbert never married, not because he was gay - but because he was completely focused on his project.
His project involves computer enhancing people's brains - these subject will become TT's team.
Gilbert is waiting for a subject that he can start from scratch.