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Sometimes, I Wish To Hear The Words ‘Mama’ From You; And Yearn For You To Fight With Me…

People often ask me whether I feel sad about not having a ‘normal’ child. No, I don’t; I am fortunate to have an adorable daughter like you.

Dear Avantika,

It is my birthday, yet you are the one flapping her hands in delight. I see you watching me intently when I blow the solitary candle that has been disguising my years for many years now. I cut the cake and offer a tiny weeny piece to you.

You accept what I offer you without complaint. You always do. I would give anything in the world to hear you complain once. Would you?

When I was your age, as someone just about to enter her teens, I had many complaints about anything and everything in life. I was growing up under too many restrictions—or so I thought— and I remember saying to myself often that I would be more of a friend than a mother to my daughter when I grew up.

Now, as a grown-up adult and a mother, I have realised that life happens to you when you are busy making other plans.

I so want to be a friend with whom you can share everything. But have reconciled to be a mother who needs to be over-protective of her daughter, forever.

Autism has taken away so much from us…

Am I going overboard in my paranoia? If only you could speak and let me know, Avantika.

The Autism Spectrum Disorder has not only taken away your speech but also some of my motherhood dreams and desires. I so want to spoil you, but in the absence of any demands from you, I don’t know how to make your special occasions memorable.

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What are the things and objects that you like? Is there a food item you like to eat more than the others? Do you prefer wearing a skirt to a legging? What is the reason for those tears trickling down your eyes— did you get hurt, or someone teased you again? Without any words from your mouth, I have to do a lot of guesswork every day. Your silence has made me realise my ignorance; there is so much that I don’t know about the world.

I’m so glad you are a happy person!

What I do know is that words aren’t needed to set an example for someone. I have yet to come across a happier person than you. Food provided on time, water to drink, a roof over your head and your parents by your side— these basic factors are enough for your lips to be set in a perpetual wide position across your mouth.

The amusement and delight on your face whenever you see yourself in the mirror make me realise that you don’t need others to bring you happiness. You avoid looking at me when angry and then come to me and put your head in my lap when all is forgotten, teaching me time and again how carrying grudges isn’t worth anyone’s time. You trust people until and unless they give you reasons not to, and then don’t bother about them if they break your trust.

The way you look at me when I try to stop you from stimming your fingers or flapping your hands makes me believe that we are different in your simple world rather than the other way around. Sometimes, when I join you in flapping hands or laughing aloud, the smile on your face tells me how much you enjoy your mother connecting with you on your own terms.

At other times, when I am working at my home office, a tad too occupied to give you the attention you want, you throw at me whatever harmless objects come into your grasp, thus forcing me to look at you. Before I can say something in anger, you somehow manage to squeeze yourself between the table and my body on the chair and sit on my lap. My anger then melts away when you hug me with all the love you have in your heart.

You are loved by so many people

You are not a tad interested in the expensive barbies or noise-making gizmos; you pay scant attention to the yet another new dress that I buy you or the cash that well-meaning relatives gift you during their visit. All you prod me for is to go into the open air to swing high against the wind and cycle to your heart’s content in the open ground.

How do you always manage to create a special place in the heart of all those people who come to know you? You are the apple of your teachers’ eye, your previous therapists don’t tire of asking me about your progress, and the guards and the staff of the society we live in enquire about your well-being with me.

You have taught me not to live in the past. I have witnessed your meltdowns many times, when you take out your waves of anger and frustration on your father or me; yet after a while, you are back to your smiling ways, forgetting the past. If only adults were like that!

My life with you is not what I wished for before you came into it

I have to always hazard a guess as to what you want when you keep staring at me with that endearing look. When you cry, I can give anything in the world to know what is causing you pain. Earlier this year, when you woke up after surgery, the doctor asked me if you were in much pain. I looked at you sheepishly then, for I didn’t know the answer. Someone said that mothers know everything; well, someone isn’t a mother.

Yet, in many ways, life with you is everything I had hoped for. I love it when you pluck a flower from the garden and pull my hand to take a look. I secretly love it—even though I pretend otherwise—when you return from school and come to my home office and push me away from my chair to either play with you or rest in bed. You smile when I smile and love it when I imitate you in making faces. I never knew before you that the simple things in life can give one so much pleasure.

My friends have to plan adventure activities with their children; I am fortunate that my daily life is an adventure with you. My companions fret over their boisterous children, and I ask God why you are so quiet and silent. People often ask me whether I feel sad about not having a ‘normal’ child. No, I don’t; I am fortunate to have an adorable daughter like you.

Your autism has taught me to be more patient and grateful for life’s small blessings.

But sometimes, I do wish to hear the words ‘Mama’ coming out of your mouth. And yearn that you fight with me. Or even ask me for the moon. I wish you could say something, anything. But then, one can’t have everything in life.

Today, on my birthday, as you flap your hands when I blow out the candles and give you a piece of cake, I promise to be your best friend, besides being your mother. I know you understand this, for it is you who have taught me that a bond doesn’t depend on words to be forged and words are not necessary where matters of the heart are concerned.

I love you, Avantika. I know that you love me too. I pray to God that you just say it once. After that, I will stop asking for the other things in life.

Your Mother.

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About the Author

Smita Das Jain

Smita Das Jain is a writer by passion who writes every day. Samples of her writing are visible in the surroundings around her — her home office, her sunny terrace garden, her husband’s car and read more...

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