Leaving in a society, in an apartment complex, one cannot do away with your neighbours. When I say neighbors, I mean it in a very general manner of speaking, my next door neighbor, to my neighbors on my floor, to neighbors in my block to all of them in our housing society. Fortunately the first two categories of our neighbors have been very good to us, maybe even fantastic but the 20% living in our complex have been giving me those minor pin pricks and probably some amusement when I recall these events. This is so with other parents, living in apartment complexes who also say the 80% are generally fine.
Recalling these events, one of my “neighbors” in the adjacent block, apologized profusely beforehand telling me not to mistake her if she was wrong. Thinking it must be the usual questions about Ramam’s behavior/problem I asked her to go ahead. She said she dries her clothes in the common terrace and few of her clothes are missing. She was wondering if it was Ramam, by any chance who was throwing the clothes down. She recently lost some good bed sheets. I told her that there was a circular in the notice boards that the management has taken some action against some housekeeping staff who has been pilfering the clothes. I asked her, have you not read the notice? I also told her he does a whole lot of things he does but not definitely throwing clothes from the terrace. She still gives me the looks when I am with Ramam on the terrace. I think of it sometimes and brush it off as one of those many incidents.
We live on the 6th floor; the lift ride everyday also offers some interesting insights. There are some who maintain a much studied indifference to us, these silences are so loaded, and I wait for the lift to stop. Some try to have a word with my daughter. The domestic help party sometimes look at me is askance of his behavior. There are a myriad of expressions varying form sympathy to a frown to very rare instances of an expression bordering on disgust. Recently, Ramam was clapping his hands in the lift and an old man ordered me “teach your son manners”. I immediately rose in defense and said he was challenged. He immediately apologized, but I regretted much later having said that because Ramam kept pushing me away all the way to his therapy. I could have probably smiled and ignored that old man. Anyways the morning was ruined for me. Very few are actually friendly to Ramam and wish him a goodmorning or a hi.
The award to the worst neighbor undisputably goes to this lady. She has an autistic son, probably very high functioning, but still in a state of denial to the point of being abusive to others. Another lady had told me the boy was autistic, and so I started observing this child. One day I walked upto her and told her my name is so and so, and my son is autistic. She immediately retorted my son is not. Why am I hell bent on labeling somebody? I told her sorry; I do not wish to hurt your feelings. I walked away. An hour later she calls me up on the intercom and started howling at me. I asked her how do you know my apartment number. She went on I am a trained therapist; my husband is an IT professional. Do you know Bill Gates is autistic? I then asked her does it take away that man’s greatness. She then told me I have observed Ramam. He is quite ok. Why are you tarnishing his image and that hurt real bad. She is entitled to her opinions about her son but has no business passing a judgment on my upbringing of Ramam. She stays away from all social gatherings in the society. I do not understand how this benefits her son. She told me wait and watch,” I shall make my son a world champion”. I wished her well and hung up. To this day when I hear the boy’s bike wheels crunching sound on the gravel, I walk a mile away. Then I think there is rejection within your own autistic community and then what to speak of the world?