Writing Pictures

Having lost my digital camera over a year ago, I've not been photo-blogging enough. There's a lot to see and write about. But what I find very interesting is how some writers can write in pictures. What I mean is, they are able to write in such a way that the reader sees in detail everything the writer conveys. The stories can be so captivating to the point that the reader forgets that he or she is actually reading, words.

I like writers who do that well. Maybe that is why I don't read so much.

Last night, I spent the whole night on my bed reading a book written by a boy who has Asperger's Syndrome. In very laymen terms, he is autistic. (Labeling him as autistic does not do him nor the syndrome any justice, because autism is a very very broad spectrum). Daniel, wrote about how he coped with autism at since young till now. He will be thirty this year, and though I bought the book months ago, it was only last night that I discovered the lake of gems in the 200 page book.

The book, "Born on a Blue Day", is a catchy pun that describes how he saw things. He was born on Wednesday. Wednesdays are blue to him, hence the title. For Daniel, numbers and words evoked different moods and expressions. During the tensing moments of his life, he would count to calm himself down. Hardly having social skills to make friends, numbers were his friends. Every number had a character. Daniel liked prime numbers and palindromes made him feel comfortable.

Seeing things differently had its advantages and disadvantages. Instead of capturing the big picture, Daniel could only see details. It's like only seeing the individual dots in a picture after connecting the dots. Reading in between the lines was something he couldn't do. Hence he was frequently misunderstood and misunderstood frequently.

Mathematics and languages came very naturally to him. He could square numbers in the very same speed I would count to ten. His photographic memory enabled him to recall phrases in foreign language books with ease. About hundred pages after his childhood, he wrote about how he volunteered in poverty-stricken Lithuania as an English tutor. Being English and unable to communicate with the locals, he picked up Lithuanian and spoke it so well that the locals thought he was local too. He also spoke German, French and is currently working on Welsh.

The book took an unexpected turn when he shared about his homosexuality. One of his nervous episodes was mustering the courage to inform his parents about it. They surprised him with their approval and accepted him without qualms.

Honestly I cringed at parts of the the chapter that described how he and his partner kissed. Though I'm not homophobic, it's a little tough for me to picture homosexual intimacy.

Shortly after a developing relationship, Daniel moved in with him. Neil and Daniel worked from home and eventually gave birth to a language website that earned them an income. Daniel wrote the material and Neil did the techy stuff to make it work.

At this point in the night, I smiled thinking of how someone with autism was able to go so far in life and do things that are extraordinary. I have about 80 pages to go. Tonight will be the night I would complete the book.

Almost after every chapter, I pause to think of my two 'kids' who have autism. And I wonder how things would be for them when they grow older. Would they have the same determination as Daniel, or have the same support he had. Could they earn themselves an income and not get exploited by the world. Would they have misinterpreted feelings towards others or have friends who can genuinely care for them... I don't quite know. But at least I know what Daniel went through and I can anticipate the challenges that will encroach. While they are growing up, I can play my part to help them do well.

Maybe one of the things I need to do this year is practise writing.


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