I like to think of the autistic world and the neurotypical world as the two parallel lines in the equal sign. They both have their own path to traverse, their own experience that shapes their perception. Their paths will never meet, but one is not less than the other. Both are equal. I believe that my ability to put my thoughts to words is my superpower… a superpower that questions the notion of a lack of an inner world in us autistic people.
The Canine Sabha
I have a very interesting and eclectic neighbour. A nature science writer by profession, she is also a pet parent who is passionate about all things involving dogs. I find her interests as unique as the blue colour of her hair.
She takes her pet dog out for a walk every morning at the same time that I go for a walk. After the walk they choose to sit by the flagpole across the garden path, where they are joined by other canines and their parents. I love to walk in the garden path and have observed that this neighbour of mine is the official behaviour therapist and subject matter expert for all the canines in the group. She doles out a lot of advice to the pet parents. Honorary mention must be made of the indie pup whose behaviour has vastly improved with my neighbour’s guidance.
Amma says that people with similar backgrounds and interests bond with each other. That may be true. An example that comes to my mind is that of the garrulous group of stay-at-home moms in my apartment. When they get together, the whole block knows where they are and what they are talking about because they are that loud.
I think this is one of those things where we autistic people are different. If you put a bunch of us into a room, chances are that most of us will be busy processing the environment in our way rather than interacting. But it takes people of different kinds to make the world an interesting place. We are different from many other people — just different, not less.
Tara was petrified of the ocean. Though she grew up in Chennai, she never once visited the beach — not once since the tsunami waves had washed away her elder brother who was playing at the beach. She was just four when that incident happened but she had developed a phobia of the ocean.
Now, twenty years later, Tara’s work brought her to Rio de Janeiro, a place famous for its beautiful beaches. Tara decided it was time to get rid of her phobia. She called for a cab to get her to the beach.
There was soft sand beneath her feet and colourful seashells. The waves lapping to the shore had an incredible rhythm. Tara felt liberated and good. The ocean was a beautiful place after all.
(‘Small Stories Big Thought’ is priced at Rs 349, and is available on bookosmia.com)
In conversation with the author
What inspired ‘Small Stories Big Thoughts’?
Observing the world around us gives us valuable insights into the complex tapestry of emotions, determination and grit that makes the quintessential girl or boy next door a superhero. I have tried to highlight the never-say-die spirit in my stories.
What can readers expect from the book?
A collection of slice-of-life stories as seen from the lens of a person who inhabits a very different world within the world we live in
When did you decide you wanted to write a book and why?
I have always loved to observe the people around me and spin tales in my head, but for the longest time, it was just me who was engaging with these tales! I am a non-speaking autistic person. I was first introduced to Avaz, a text-to-speech communication app on the iPad, in January 2020. Avaz opened up the power of typed words to communicate.
I eventually picked up skills to type on my MacBook and started to type some of my thoughts out in the form of small anecdotes. These were well received by my educators, family and a small circle of readers.
Your top 3 book recommendations for Open Sesame readers?
‘Ranji’s Wonderful Bat and Other Stories’ by Ruskin Bond
‘Right Ho Jeeves’ by P G Wodehouse
‘Haroun and the Sea of Stories’ by Salman Rushdie