I could sense a butterfly waft outside my window, with my tongue stuck out, eyes squinted and my fingers converged to my thumb, I gingerly walked towards the high window sill that harvested a colourful collection of flowers. Wearing my favourite frock which was red with white polka dots and my hairs left untied, the breeze caressed my face while shuffling my hairs into a divergent mess. The butterfly flew farther away into the skies. I lived on the second floor. The window sill was high for my knees to reach, I still did try. On the edge of the parapet wall, I leaned my sweaty palms and gave myself a push, they say torsion! My efforts wet vain when I couldn’t do much about the climbing part.
With my peripheral view, I saw my study chair. Such a relief to have found a solution. I whimpered as I pulled it, the ends of which made a screeching sound on the floor. I stopped to cover my ears; it was such a soul gnawing screech. The butterfly hovered over my ears now; it was just an inch away, playing with me. I was almost there, trying to catch the bright yellow insect with my fingers when I heard a loud scream.
“ Niha!! Oh dear, Niha! Get down from there!” My mother’s worried voice reverberated in the whole house, she was loud.
“What are you doing?” She stormed, pulling me by my small shoulders and placing me in front of her, eyes boring into mine, I couldn’t handle it, I looked everywhere but her. I saw the clock that sounded so near, it was half past six, the second hand was in a hurry to complete the revolutions, but constantly moving needed a formula to know how many seconds my mother would take to calm that worried mind of hers.
“Niha?” She shook me again. “I am speaking to you!”
“Butterfly Momma” I squeaked, why did everybody have to know about my doings, there was a butterfly and I wanted it as my pet.
“NO, do you understand me. No to anything that can harm you.” Her voice quivered and she hugged me into her chest, sobbing while her body shook violently with her tantrums and in a weird way, I understood her.
But all I wanted to do was run away from her and sit in a corner. People always taunted and treated me as an outcast, it doesn’t bother me but what is normal in speaking irrelevant things that didn’t have a conclusion. Why were there too many obstacles to be myself?
I heard my father grumble from the hallway.
“We should just send her to an orphanage, it’s high time!” He shouted at my mother. I knew that he hated me. I remember him suffocating me using the pillows when I was younger. He just hated me.
“No Gaurav, she is my daughter and I’m still alive!” My mother sobbed but never left her ground.
I covered my years and went under the bed. The dark solitude was my home. The fight was growing big and ugly in the hallway.
“She is special Gaurav. It’s ok. She is our daughter. Being autistic doesn’t end the world!”
“Our daughter? I never wanted a mental daughter. She just stares, never speaks, can’t even eat, sleep or do her chores on her own, she is twelve for god’s sake. Hysterical kid and you need me to look after you both? It’s absolute hell”
I hear him breaking glasses and scolding my mother. He was always the same. But this time I sensed him going over-board.
The ball that I had lost over a week ago was here, under the bed, near my feet. The circumference was apt to get into the washing machine. To fit perfectly might need an extra ounce of clothing. I started to wrap the cloth from the floor. The voices were high and abusive. My mother’s were gentle and soft but bickering due to the situation.
“Choose me or that mental child Parvathi! One has to leave the house today. Remember, choosing her would end our relationship.” He stormed out of the hall and that followed a loud wail of cry. It was disturbing.
I could sense a shadow in my room, the bulb was above the person hence the shadow was long, I knew mother would have gone through a lot.
She bent her head to face me under the bed, her face was completely wet with tears, and it was because of me. I was the curse to the family, I reckon but I don’t understand why. I have been good. I don’t cry too much now.
“Niha, why are you born this way? Autism isn’t bad honey but you are born to the wrong family, a father who doesn’t accept you, a mother who is helpless and relatives who are too good to even consider you human!” She pulled me and hugged me in a strong hold.
“Washing Machine, ball is fit there, momma” I stammered looking at the ball in my hand. I wanted to convey her that the broken glass of the washing machine could have a ball closed. Her hands were rough due to washing.
“Oh, what are you trying to tell Niha” She hugged me and picked me up from the floor and dusted me off.
“We need to leave honey, poppa is angry and we need to leave this place. I can’t leave you alone, I will work. Will you promise me that you will be a good girl?” She wiped me and started to pack the suitcase.
I ran to my room to get my favourite bag and my teddy bear. We were going somewhere.
“Momma, washing machine, ball, washing machine, ball!” I didn’t want her to rough her hands again.
“Niha, stop, shh, will you promise me to be a good girl?” She held me trying to get my attention. I was attentive, she just doesn’t understand.
“Why don’t you understand anything that I say Niha. Promise me!” She held my cheeks for my eyes to meet hers.
“Promise!” I finally stammered, so that’s what she wanted to hear, I realized after she smiled and hugged me.
“We will face this together, we will live,” She took my hands and dragged me out of the house along with the suitcase. I never saw Poppa since then but I now know that it is okay to talk to strangers and smile, even make a small talk that doesn’t need a conclusion. I was one of them, in my own sweet way. Momma was always right and I always topped my class. It was My World that I lived in, it was a happy place:)