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When one has touched an article of genuine worth and become steeped in its nuances, one is able to tell the difference between the ‘real thing’ and a replica.

True regard and respect is a magnificent package. I did not know how to identify the authentic item, because I had never seen it before. And the Aspie mind is a simple one, so easily convinced by platitudes, especially when issuing forth from the mouth of those I had trusted all my life. Though that trust was shattered when truth revealed itself.

I may be more than a tad slow in grasping certain complex (and often twisted) neurotypical relational subtleties, but when the Aspie mind meets a revelation, it is steadfast in its conviction. The photograph capturing that moment of dawning is embedded in the core of Being, its pigments will not fade. Now that I have tasted of the legitimate, I have no desire any more for the counterfeit. The latter belongs permanently in the mist of the past – banished forever, it must never be allowed to make a come back.

This morning, while ruminating about gifts and friendship, my memory presented a little snippet from what seems like a very distant past. Yet, the visual images are vivid, as is the emotional tumult.

It was a difficult time. Trying to break free from the tyrannical stranglehold of my former Colonial Power, nowhere to turn for inner peace, no space within or without to call my own, my inner realm was literally owned by another ‘superior’ being. In an act of defiant desperation, I bought my first digital camera. I needed it for the sanity of my creative soul, which was slowly dying from asphyxiation. As soon as I crossed that threshold, there was no turning back. Whispers were scattered like dead rotting leaves, behind my back, my Colonial Mistress was unhappy about my $200 extravagance in a time when I was owing her $20,000. Perhaps she felt I ought to have given her that paltry $200 along with the small piece of my soul that thirsted for the sliver of creative freedom offered by the humble camera? That sum of money was another tragicomedy of misplaced trust, a promised gift from the Mistress, which once spent turned out to be an unwilling loan, because she changed her mind. I spent another arduous year repaying that debt, while continuing to serve under her as a “paid companion,” although she never really paid me for the loyalty and faithfulness I gave to her, she merely provided an unhappy repressive roof over my head. Again, this is highly subjective, since it could be argued that a roof over one’s head and meals on the table in a rather luxurious lifestyle is more than enough payment for slavery? The irony of this is that were I even two steps more savvy in the grand screenplay of neurotypical liaisons, I could have been equally wrapped in luxury without the slavery. A touch of Stockholm Syndrome, perhaps? (This in itself deserves a full chapter in the memoirs I shall one day write and publish!)

Fast forward, zipping past years of tumultuous journeying, into a brand new realm, a dawning of Self and liberty, tasting bona fide regard and respect. Again, a camera serves as concrete symbolic marker. This time, a thing of beauty, not a cheap buy struggling for breath under the filthy blanket of oppression. A gift from a friend, sent from afar. No strings attached. No recrimination. No self-righteous religious pronouncement of guilt. No Colonial Judgment. My friend merely wanted me to have his old camera when he got himself a new one, because he knew I liked that model very much but couldn’t afford to buy it myself. A gentle nod towards my Beingness. I have carried this precious camera everywhere for the last three years, collecting thousands of photographs documenting my work, inner thoughts, creative life, and Lucy, my muse. I fell into despondency when its lens decided to malfunction recently. It is not the monetary worth that I cared about but the encapsulation of meaning. I am unable to afford the cost of repairs, so it now sits in my drawer awaiting the day when I am able to do it justice. I will not discard such an item so symbolic of goodness. It serves as a stark contrast to that sad memory, a reminder of the difference between the two eras – two cameras, two acutely divergent landscapes.

This same friend has once again offered a hugely generous hand of help, in my time of crucial need. His gift of benevolence will see me through to the completion of my dissertation. No mumblings about how inadequate I am at this or that, no manipulating of my talents to suit the agenda of another, no controlling of how I ought to walk, no orchestration of the path I ought to take. Just practical pragmatic support for who I am, and my chosen road ahead. A breath of fresh air. My old subaltern mind still reels from the realisation of freedom. And I am filled with awe and gratitude.

Now, all I need do is work extremely hard, and make it happen. I am determined to do so. Unfettered. The old testament of the law and bondage to servitude and violent punishment has truly become replaced by a new tribute to grace.

Tally ho, Bunny!

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