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A Priceless Gift

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To gaze into a child’s eyes and touch upon its laughter is a wonder unrivaled. However, my cousin never allowed my entrance to such an opportunity. He was a beautiful child, a child with a cloud of passion over his face accompanied by an expression in his eyes so daring that even the flames of Hell would retreat in fear. Yet, every time I called his name hoping for a verbal response, a smile in return, or even just a simple glance, I received nothing but the whirling wind of silence. It was enough to frustrate anyone. Not once did he acknowledge my existence, let alone my voice. I embraced him with a warm hug but he darted past me as if I were invisible. I fought for his attention but the soul in his eyes never laid sight upon me. I wondered what ran through his proportionally giant head as his large watery eyes stared into space. It seemed as if somewhere in his five-year-old mind, the dust atoms of the galaxies and the luminosity of the stars had created a new world, one that lived solely for him and no one else.
One day, I finally gave up trying to enter a world encapsulated behind metal bars. He was always eccentric compared to the other children. His hands were always icy cold. His attention was always somewhere high above where not even Yao Ming could reach. If it had not been for our trip to the doctors, I may have ended up hating him, maybe. I still remember the way the doctor’s lips had moved and the ringing sound of the deathly word: Autism. Yet, such a simple word explained for so much. He could grow up to be a genius but his thoughts would forever be locked away. In essence, his mind was a miraculous book of philosophy, capable of holding inspiration and innovation, but which would be bound by a lock with no key. But in my head, I saw the key.
Refusing to back down anymore, I decided I would spend my entire summer in China breaking the lock of my cousin’s soul. I wanted to be the person he said his first word to but I knew how unlikely the chances were. Taking him outside was like chasing a zoo. I took my eyes off of him for one second and he was already kicking a store’s glass window. The only time he stood still was when we passed an ice cream store. I could tell he wanted the strawberry snow cone but I refused to give it to him until he said “Please” or “Can I have it”. Panic flooded his eyes as he groped for a word. Then, a dark glare clouded his eyes as he stared right into mine for the first time. “Ughh”, he bellowed. Ecstatically satisfied yet unpleased by his misdemeanor, I still rewarded him with the snow cone. But after that incident, he returned to his usual self, only going whichever direction I went because I was grabbing his arm.
I never thought a car accident could save someone until I witnessed the paradox that same day. My cousin had broken loose and when I spotted him, he was sprawled on the middle of Shanghai’s busy streets with a large truck right behind him. With a shrill shriek, I bolted to my cousin, hoping the truck driver would notice me since my cousin was too short. I slipped before I could make any hand signal and fearing for my life, I huddled with my cousin as the blinding lights of the truck inched near. Reciting a farewell message in my head, I squeezed my eyes shut as the booming roar of the truck engine shouted in my face. Three…Two…One…I heard a faint sound that uttered, “Cousin, you were very brave”. Were the angels already here? One by one, I opened my eyes and saw my cousin smiling straight at me. The truck driver stooped down next to us and was moving his lips but all I could hear was the echo of my cousin’s voice. He had finally given me the gift I had probed for all along, a priceless gift.





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ff5fan said...
May 7, 2010 at 3:59 pm
this was beautiful:)                         I can tell that autism is a passionate subject for you. I loved your poem about your brother as well. :)) good work!
 
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