softly, gently


Little things make a big difference. I like the minutiae in life. What makes me happiest are in the small details. 

My brother-in-law keeps us well fed – even sometimes going a little over the top with his generosity and care. Just the other day, I merely mentioned that the Matcha cheesecakes I saw in an advertisement looked really attractive, and a day later, there were half a dozen of the little things in my refrigerator! Now, what am I going to do with this much Matcha cheesecake?

That photograph of the battered fish with salted egg sauce was a visual capture of my lunch on 4 August 2018. What is so special about that? It’s just food. And I’m just another one of the millions of people who like taking photographs of my food and posting them online. Yes. And no. Yes, I am quite obsessed about documenting whatever it is that enters the portals of the cavity where tongue and teeth reside, and travelling on a grand tour of my digestive system. I don’t do it to show off, however, but more because these are tiny symbols of grace to me. From my bacon and egg challenges in the early days of this ‘bunnyhopscotch’ blogging, to today’s somewhat more eclectic markers, I see each morsel as a drop of cosmic benevolence.

4 August was ‘that’ day when my two old friendly ghosts Artaud and Wagner decided to revisit me at TEDx. Unlike most, I wasn’t exactly thrilled to be invited to speak at TEDx. I have no talent for selling (marketing) myself, so exposure of this kind isn’t exactly what I relish. I just want to be able to do my work undisturbed and unhampered. Yes, life doesn’t often happen that way. And things haven’t exactly been plain sailing lately. The preparation for this TEDx thingy was unexpectedly wearying, but I am not one to back out of something I had committed to do just because things get inconvenient. My soul trudged all the way through the smelly bog and tangled jungle to the very end. The tech rehearsal was extremely taxing to my senses, were it not for Lucy by my side, I would’ve suffered a meltdown. Wading through the chaos of the evening, I made it through the technical tests, all was good, I was told, and I left the venue heavy headed with a sizzling fever. Sleep evaded me all night, and it would be a very early start to the “Big Day”. More frenetic mess or inaction – depending on who you were – greeted me the next morning when I arrived at the time I was instructed. None of the other speakers were there yet. I wonder why? I think neuronormative people know things that completely evade me, they seem to have a six sense for timing, coming late yet knowing they won’t be missing a single thing, nothing important anyway. Me? I am on time. And almost always end up waiting… and waiting…

It wasn’t a great event, there were only three other speakers that I really felt were worth listening to. Of course, I was not to know the amazing comic farce that would kick into action the minute Lucy and I stepped on stage.

What’s with the battered fish photo then?

A symbol of friendship. Three friends came to support me that morning. It was early in the morning, on a weekend. But they came. After my tussle with the terrible duo, Artaud and Wagner, I was spent. It takes a lot for anyone to improvise on the spot and even come up with entertaining repartee while experiencing that kind of unwelcome ‘surprise’. For an autistic person to pull it off, it took a whole lot more than a lot…  of fortitude, spunk and gumption. Hey, we’re supposed to hate surprises, changes and things going wrong, remember? We’re supposed to be rigid and inflexible, remember?

I couldn’t stomach the stuff the event had on the table for lunch. I couldn’t bear having to say a single word more to yet another fool (remember, that compere had just asked me where I was from, remarking that I looked very “ethnic” or something ridiculous like that – onstage, in front of everyone?).

My facial expressions do give me away – it’s a wonder my photographer friend failed to capture my face at that moment. I wonder if the organisers will edit it out? Blah blah blah blah goes my thought train whizzing round and round the tracks in my mind.

That plate of fish? It was my lunch. One of my three friends whizzed us, all four of us, off to this little nooky restaurant a few meters away from the dreadful crowd, and we sat down to a truly lovely luncheon. Sensory peace – no awful loud music, no cackling humans (apart from us), and no absurdities. Just friends. And decent food at reasonable prices.

Lucy by my side. Nobody told me “No Dogs Allowed”, and I didn’t have to go into the explanation mode about assistance dogs. Phew. Lucy behaved like the expert professional she is. No goofing off, no lunging for food dropped around the buffet table. Just quiet, graceful elegance, with a watchful eye and nose on me.

Clement Space. Wherever our feet tread, as long as we are together, Lucy and me.

It’s the little things that matter.

I am not at all concerned about what those people at TEDx will do in the editing – it’s over as far as I am concerned. But I will definitely post it here when the video is ready. Even if just for some good belly laughs.

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