“I can’t believe he’s already one! He is growing up so fast. Wow!” Rumi says breathlessly and then glances at Dr.Thomas. “It’s a little concerning that he has not talked anything; even a single word!’
“Not to worry. Some babies talk late. Girls usually talk a little sooner than boys. So have a little patience!.” he say with a small smile, Rumi thinks she worries too much. She gets ready to leave the room, but at the door, she turns around. “ I wonder if his hearing is okay. Milo doesn’t seem to hear me. When I call his name, he doesn’t look at me.”Rumi pulls the chair and sits heavily. “ The other day I clapped my hands as loud as I could and he didn’t even turn his head. He just keeps sitting on the floor, looking out the glass doors at the leaves blowing around in the backyard. As if I didn’t exist.” So? She takes a deep breath and glances at doctor Thomas .
Dr. Thomas puts the pen down and opens his mouth to say something but then Rumi starts her other questions.
“ I have seen him bouncing to the music, so he’s definitely not deaf. What a crazy thing to think. But Dr. what’s going on with my Milo? Please tell me that he’s fine..”
“He’s fine Rumi. Give him a little time. I will see you in a month.” Dr. Thomas gets ready to see his next patient.
At home after lunch, Rumi sits with Milo. “Say Juice. Juuuuice. Say I want juice or say swing. Look at me Milo.Tell me something. Why are you screaming?” Rumi asks and then carries Milo to the backyard. They sit on the deck and look at the sky, Milo’s favorite thing to do and now it is same with Rumi. She stares at the blue sky for a long time and feels as if she is the weightless sky, floating and free. She is her son’s imagination and unspoken words. She turns her head and notices the happy face of her son.
Milo was a beautiful and bright-eyed boy. She loved him instantly. She dreamed of him a genius in math, best in sports, a wonderful debater like her father. But she should have had much simpler dreams. Each year Rumi lit the candles on cute Mickey mouse cakes, sometimes on Barney cake and sang “Happy Birthday.” Then her husband used to say,come on Milo! Make a wish and blow your candles! And then he wouldn’t, so they had to blow them out for him. She always makes a wish, the same every year. “Please say something, look around and enjoy your life.” She never stopped wishing. They visited countless doctors, therapist to help Milo. In one bright sunny day, she marks his face wondrous and joyful with the unexpected discovery of a new fascination, on light switches. He opens the musical card, shuts it and opens it again. The same song every time he opens it, but the cards are heaven to him. He spends rest of his days smiling and flapping his hands . That’s all he wants every year.
“ How about a prescription for him that will make him talk.”
“Are you serious!” her husband asks. “Don’t be so silly! Therapy will work best for him.Don’t worry so much.” He says. Milo is her world. When she returns home from the errands, Milo screeches and jumps up and down, flapping his hands. That’s the way he shows his excitement and happiness. One evening after her walk, Rumi entered into house, with a new idea in her mind. It was weird, but she wanted to give it a try. So she jumped up and down in the same way as her son, flapping her arms. Milo was so excited, that he continued that for a few more seconds. Rumi watches her son and wish he can smile and say, “Hey, mom,glad you’re back” or he can run around and hug her and say, “I love you mom.”.
In one visit to the doctor, he surprised her with the news that her son Milo has autism. Rumi couldn’t move from the chair. “Are you sure?” she asks the doctor. “ Maybe you are reading somebody else.” she waits for the doctor to say something. But it is just a field of silence.
From doctor’s office to her home, she confronts with God while driving. “ Why are you punishing me? What did I do?”she asks. “ If you want to punish me that’s fine but why to my son?” she wipes her tears. “Let him live and enjoy his life,please.” She is angry with Him but she still have faith that Milo will be fine.
“Come Milo, let’s go to the playground.” Rumi says, grabbing the car key. It is a cooler day. She drives him to the nearby playground. Some Children are running around, playing hide and seek. Rumi takes Milo to the swing, the one which gives him extreme pleasure. All he wants to do is play in the swing. You have to push him over and over.After twenty minutes,Rumi gets bored standing there in one place and pushing the swing.”Milo, would you like to play with those kids?” she asks, “ Look! They are having so much fun.” she stops the swing. “Come let’s try. I will be there. Come.” Milo screeches whipping his head. Instead,he wants to play in the sand box. He scoops up as much as his hands could held, raises his hands high and let the sand spill down. The feeling of sand moving through his fingers mesmerizes him. They stay in the sand box until the sun goes down.
It is another gorgeous day! Rumi finishes her prayer and walks into the kitchen. Milo sits on the kitchen floor and organizes his rocks. He loves to collect smooth, white rocks, mostly round. He arranges them into a line. Rumi sits down on the floor with her son. “ Would you like to play with you?” she asks with a smile. Milo glances at her mom’s smile-stunning brown eyes and knows that he doesn’t need a voice to tell her anything. Her face is like his now. He is delighted with her mom’s contribution to his rock project.So both of them sit there and arrange and rearrange the beautiful rocks in lines.After one hour, Milo jumps up and flaps his hands, a happy dance.
Everyone wants her to carry on.Move on. She doesn’t want to. She wants to be here, alone. Rumi stops the car and sits quietly looking at the beach. Her son’s favorite place. Rumi crouches down on the sand and writes Happy Birthday Milo! But with each pulse of waves, her writing washes away. The next wave crashes,and deposits a single white, round rock at her feet. Her heart quickens as she picks up the beautiful, smooth stone and rolls it inside her hand. ‘I miss you so much!’ The first tear is slow, hesitant, and then they come fast, one after another. Rumi Looks at the sky. The moon is bright- yellow and rest of the sky is dotted all over with brilliant white stars. The moon, the heaven, the universe and her beautiful boy among them.