“Cookie,” he said sitting in my lap.
“What did you say, Shiv?” I asked him. I must have scared him with my over-pitched excitement because he blinked cluelessly and looked away.
“Driver kaka, did you hear it too?” I asked nervously.
The driver, who had seen me grow from a young, outgoing girl to an anxious mother now, said reassuringly, “He said ‘cookie’”. We both smiled. I cried too. When I called my husband as soon as I was home, we were both shaking with relief and happiness. For the next two days, we prompted our son to repeat what he had said and he obliged a few times too.
I know I sound like a young mother trying enthusiastically to explain her son’s every first step for the first five years and prove how special her child is. You aren’t entirely wrong actually. I was a young mother then and yes, my child was “special”. He was eight years old when this incident took place and “cookie” was the first sensible word he had spoken in those eight years.
“Did he undergo therapy in India?” Shiv’s teachers in LA would ask us after our every India visit. “How come he understands and processes better, every time he is back from India?”
Being parents to a lovely autistic son, we were used to all kinds of questions but this always left us stumped.
(As told to Swaty Prakash by Ulupi and Niraj Parikh)