Autism is derived from the Greek word “autos” which means “self”. In Chinese, the translation of autism means self-isolation. Where I come from, the word autism conjures the image of a socially withdrawn individual, shut in his/her own room or world. If we take this translation literally, that describes me to a T. Some would even call it a lonely illness although I’d disagree with that and say I’m alone, not lonely. If however anyone wants to say I’m lonely, fine with me. When you’re comfortable being alone, you stop giving a damn what others choose to call you and that to me, is liberation. (Note: I’m aware that the image of a socially withdrawn person is misleading and unhelpful for it doesn’t encapsulate the whole of the autism spectrum, not least to say there are autistic individuals who do crave and are capable of social interaction but this is not the focus of my post).
Back home staying with my parents, I have the habit of locking my bedroom door, anyone who wants to enter has to knock on my door. I never liked visitors especially the last minute notification or unannounced type. When visitors came, instead of being at the living room to greet them, I’d shut myself in my room. When they came and knocked on my door to say hello, I’d slowly opened the door, looking shy or perhaps a little cold (aloof). Either way, anyone could tell that I wasn’t enthusiastic about visitors arriving. There was a year when my grandmother was unwell and my dad brought her back to stay with us. Since then my aunts and uncles would take turns coming to our place to visit my grandmother. I wasn’t too happy with the daily visits, not least to say, they disrupted my routine. I used to rope skip in my room for about an hour each night before my shower, which was around 10pm. Getting out of my room to the bathroom would mean meeting the visitors which I didn’t want to, especially when I was soaked in sweat. If the visitors were still around at that time, I’d turn on the alarm of my clock and let it ring deliberately as a hint to people outside that ‘visitation hours’ were over. I waited in my room until they left. I didn’t care if those visitors were my aunts or uncles or my seniors, I didn’t care if I appeared rude and disrespectful. They disrupted my routine and that crossed the line. By the way, it wasn’t a case of a child not understanding manners or misbehaving, I was already an adult then (23 years).
During my visit back home last month, my parents and I were walking in the mall after dinner when my mum suddenly suggested a visit to one of my cousins who lived nearby. I immediately gave her my cold disapproving stare and told her that I think it is rude to arrive unannounced at someone’s place, I hate unannounced visitors and will never do that to other people, even if my friendly and hospitable cousin doesn’t mind. I thought my mum knew better than to suggest a thing like that.
I rarely invite my friends over as I feel most at home when I’m by myself. In some ways, I have successfully isolated myself. By that I mean if I’m to die right here right now, in my flat, under normal circumstances, I repeat, under normal circumstances, no one will know until my dead body starts to smell bad or my cat meows loud and long enough to annoy my neighbours to file a police complaint. While I do have some friends here, we don’t contact regularly so my absence or non-reply is unlikely to raise their immediate concern. In many respects, my online world/friend is more real than my offline world/friend. If you don’t see me posting for more than a week and I haven’t mentioned that I am going anywhere, perhaps someone should alert the Hong Kong police and I guess that would involve an email or overseas call as my site stats indicate that none of my blog visitors are local, just saying. But this isn’t the reason why I’m writing this post. I do welcome visitors by appointment only but there are also people who I don’t want to meet under any circumstances, as well as circumstances where I have no choice over the people I meet, such as in a wedding or a funeral. To be continued…
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