We just celebrated World Autism Day on 2nd of April. I know I’m late in posting…but this poem and the incident that led to it is very close to my heart and I was very sceptical about sharing it. But I guess people who are affected with any kind of a mental distress should be supported in any which way possible. And this is my way for extending a helping hand.
It so happens that a few years ago I visited my sister in her college. While waiting for her to get done with her admission process and stuff, I saw a boy sitting on a bench in the college ground who was greeting everyone heartily. A few acknowledged him but a vast majority passed him by unnoticed. With a pang of guilt I realised even I had passed him earlier and didn’t return a smile or a wave.
Seeing the lack of courtesy in his fellow college mates, I felt very bad for him. He was calling out their names, asking them how they were, about their scores, telling them that he passed his exams and was in general very happy. What intrigued me about his warm smile was the fact that his happiness didn’t dampen because of the cold welcome that he was receiving.
I sat there mulling over the entire episode that was unfolding before my eyes. I was so engrossed in my thoughts that I didn’t notice my sister as she crossed the corridor to greet that boy. His laughter brought me back from my reverie and I saw my sister talking with him and another lady who I took to be his mother or a certain teacher. After a few moments I joined them and exchanged a few greetings. However, what I couldn’t truly comprehend was the repeated “thank yous” that the lady was saying to my sister.
Later as we hurried home, my sister confessed that the real reason she got late with her college work was because she was helping that guy’s mother with his admission procedure. She told me that he was Autistic and had a certain learning difficulty. His mother was thanking her because she had helped him with his projects and provided him her notes to study from.
I feel so proud of my sister for the kindness and courage she had showed to a fellow human. Being a poet at heart, I had composed a poem while still on the bus with tears clinging in my eyes. Here it is:
A kind word of care is all that he wants,
His loneliness forever haunts
His eyes searching the crowd of familiar faces
But each pass him by at their own paces
Hoping for a smile he eagerly awaits his “friends”
But does he know that they just pretend
He too has the same needs deep inside his heart
But a mental irregularity marks him apart
The entire episode had made me wonder, who was the real mental handicap here? We who claim to be “normal” yet act in the most unkind and cruel manner, marking people apart, lacking basic courtesies and modesty or these sweet souls who love us no matter how carelessly we treat them, who have the most pure and innocent of hearts?
© 2018 Ashwini Nawathe, Kaleidoscope of My Life
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